The Soundtrack To Your Novel

There are two types of music that I categorize when I write a novel – music that inspires me and music that I envision in the story.

For example, I use Bear’s Den music to inspire me for Paradisa, but I don’t imagine any of their songs played in the background during scenes. On the other hand, 80’s classic rock has nothing to do with my story, but I imagine Connor jogging to some of it in the opening scene of my Paradisa sequel.

More simply?  The inspiration playlist is about lyrics, and the soundtrack is about tone.

As I wrap up the outline for my NaNoWriMo novel, I’ve been futzing around with the soundscape. I’m basing my main character on someone I sort of know, and that someone was a big fan of Tom McRae, so I’ve been including a lot of Tom McRae in my thought process. But then a Beastie Boys song came on my shuffle yesterday, and I’m like “oh yes, this song would be so triumphant and defiant over the antagonist, it would be such a great turning point. It just makes you feel like such a BAMF.” Of course, Tom McRae’s folky droning doesn’t exactly match up with the Beastie Boys’ defiant punk in the sense of tone, nor does it make much sense that my main character would like both (due to the nature of the story, my main character has control over the music she can hear at any given time. So her preferences do sort of matter).

So, Tom McRae goes on the inspiration playlist. The Beastie Boys go on the soundtrack. And in case you’re curious, the song I’m talking about is So Whatcha Want :P

Does music sway or inspire your writing? I rarely listen to music when I’m actually typing because it’s too distracting. But the inspiration playlist usually results in some sort of mental montage while the soundtrack playlist makes me think of scenes in their entirety. Weird, I know. But we’re all a little weird when it comes to creativity.

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7 thoughts on “The Soundtrack To Your Novel

    • Amanda Palmer <3 All her stuff is free on Amazon Prime now so I should totally add her to the playlist. I forget about her a lot, but I love her music and it would really work well in the landscape I'm creating.

  1. I’ve blogged about this extensively- pretty much every piece I’ve written has been inspired by music. Sans’s one particular work, which came from a news headline. Like you, though, listening while I type distracts me.

    I’ve never thought about it in terms of what inspires me versus soundtrack titles either. I’ll have to pay closer attention to the tone of the story and see if those songs that I’ve used actually fit in.

    I’ve finally given in and going to give NaNoWriMo a try. We’ll see how it goes. Love the Beasties Boys!

    • I think a good example of soundtrack vs inspiration is like…there’s some Tegan and Sara that gets me in the mood to write Paradisa, but their tone is far too upbeat/poppy to mesh with the book. It’s mostly just their lyrics, or whatever fangirly feelings it gives me (another way of looking at it is “would I use this song in a fanvid vs expecting it to show up in the actual piece”? :P)

      Yay for NaNoWriMo! No pressure. We’re all in this together. And I’m gonna rely on the Beastie Boys to get me in the mood to slay this novel, haha.

  2. I don’t really listen to songs when I write, since it tends to distract me. But when I do, I choose songs that are not upbeat. Recently, I’ve liked listening to Mumford & Sons and the movie soundtrack of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Good luck with NaNoWriMo! :) Just a few more hours to go!

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