Posted by jbrayweber Jun 16 2010, 7:33 am in inspiration, motivation, music, writing tips
Do you listen to music while you write? It is my opinion that music is a great way to set the stage either before or during a writing session. It pumps up the volume to your creative talent. Heck, music can be used after a writing session like a victory lap. Think Chariots of Fire.
Music is a great way to get your muse in the mood. Not unlike how sultry tunes rouse some couples into a romantic mood. Bow chicka wow wow. The harmonies act as an accompaniment to any scene being written.
Take a moment to conjure up a favorite TV show. Theme songs like Law & Order, CSI, Friends, Cheers, and even SpongeBob immediately sets you in a disposition for what you are about to watch. You settle in expecting serious drama, quirky comedy or mind-numbing cartoonish entertainment (a guilty pleasure).
What would movies be without music stealthily layered into each scene? Would the tension of hiding under the bed from an axe murderer be the same? How about swimming in the ocean, a showdown at noon or that first desperate kiss after nearly losing him/her? Music adds to the tone of the action on the screen. Star Wars, Titanic, The Lion King, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. These are blockbuster movies with music that evoke strong emotions.
Listening to music can stir your muse and put you in the right frame of mind for any particular scene you are committed to write. An adventure or high-anxiety scene requires a fast beat. A tender, poignant moment needs a softer melody. The music prepares you as your story unfolds with its own tracks playing in the background.
Those of us who use music with writing presumably have their preferences for what works. Some write while listening to an iPod. Some use music as background noise. I cannot write at all when I hear my favorite tunes. I spend far too much time singing and rocking out. Head banging or waving a lighter overhead is just plain counterproductive. I really like to sing and it’s not pretty. Instead, I listen to movie soundtracks from epic motion pictures such as The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. These songs reflect the overall tone of my manuscript and keep me centered in the action. It’s a bonus that I don’t bust out into a karaoke moment.
Authors will have their favorite musical genres to get them in the mood. Me – today’s alternative and hard rock music gets me revved up to write. Some of my favorite bands include Breaking Benjamin, Theory of a Deadman, and Shinedown. Generally, I have 2 or 3 songs that I consider theme songs for each story. I know of authors who create whole soundtracks for their books. I can’t stress enough how music that means something can ramp up your excitement for a project.
For my first manuscript, The Dolphins Cry by Live fit perfectly as the novel’s theme song. If I ever had this novel optioned for a movie (hey – don’t laugh at my fantasy), this song would play at the end when my hero holds tightly to his heroine tucked under his arm. Whispers in the Dark by Skillet and What Have You Done Now? by Without Temptation are dueling theme songs for the second book in my pirate series. These songs define the emotional climate between the hero and heroine. The videos do not, but my impression of each song gives me the chills.
There are many types of music to choose from as a companion to your creative endeavors. Here, I’ve listed a few possibilities. By no means is this list comprehensive, either in writing genre or type of music.
Adventurous – Soundtracks, Rock
Break-ups – Pop Rock, Adult Contemporary, Alternative, Rock, 80’s
Comedic – Adult Contemporary, Pop Rock, Broadway Musicals
Exotic locales – World beats, Tropical, Reggae
Historicals – Sub-genre specific music, i.e. Celtic, Classical, Soundtracks
Paranormal – Alternative, Rock, Goth, Metal
Single Title – Adult Contemporary, Pop Rock. Dance, Hip-Hop
Steampunk – Alternative, Rock, Grunge, Goth, Metal
Sultry Love Scenes – Latin, Jazz, Salsa
Suspense, Mystery – Alternative, Rock, Soundtracks
Sweet romance – Soft Rock, Love songs, Pop Rock, Easy Listening
Westerns – Country, Blue Grass, Folk
Young Adult – Teen pop, Alternative, College Indie, Pop Rock
Mix and match, the possibilities are endless.
Everyone has their own idea of what puts on the groove. Does music give you inspiration or is the sounds a distraction? What do you listen to?