The Page a Day Writers Group

Soundtracks for Your Novels

Posted on: February 27, 2010

If you’re anything like me, music is an integral part of your life.  I’m one of those people who steps out the door and wishes there was some kind of soundtrack going to greet me along with the day.  I also wish that sometimes, an entire street would break out into song like they do in a musical or a Bollywood film.  Especially since I work downtown, and that might make the whole misery of seeing endless ghost malls and the increasing number of homeless folks seem…well, just a little less dreary.

I tend to have music that I gravitate toward when I write different things, but I can pretty much listen to anything while I write because music is far less distracting than complete silence.  I can’t stand complete silence or blank walls.  I even have to sleep with a fan on at night so the white noise will lull me to sleep and keep me there.  But, sometimes, certain genres of music work better for certain pieces or certain characters.  I really got into big band swing when I was writing my first novel since it took place in 1940.

I find myself developing soundtracks for my novels.  Like I can hear certain songs and think of a particular character or scene.  For example, my bodysnatching ghost villain, Tristan Thorn, has a theme song.  It’s “He’s Evil” by the Kinks.  Every time I hear that song, I think of T.   Especially the line: “He wants your body, not your mind.”  It’s as if they’d written it for Tristan, even though that song was released when I was a tiny child.

The Kinks: "Preservation Act 2" Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws

I’ve taken to developing soundtracks for my novels recently.  I know, it’s just another one of those things that writers do when they should be writing, but it helps sometimes.  Those songs can set the mood I need for the scene I’m about to write.  Whether it’s “Know Your Enemy” by Rage Against the Machine for the big showdown scene, or “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison when the characters start to fall in love, the music gets me where I need to go.

So, go ahead and turn up the volume or strap on your headphones.  Let the music take you.  I swear, it works!

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3 Responses to "Soundtracks for Your Novels"

Thanks for bringing this under-recognizeded part of writing to light. I definitely use music, both in my ears and in my mind, as I struggle with a description, dialogue or any other part of my prose.

Yes, music is such a mood enhancer for scene/character work. http://www.pandora.com is wonderful.

I do the Pandora every once in a while. Especially when I’m in the market to buy new music. It’s way better than just relying on a 30 sec sample of a song in iTunes.

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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