"Music is what feeling sounds like."
Music is an integral part of my writing process. Without it I think I would have a much harder time figuring out my characters and the tone my story needs to adopt. Finding the right songs for my playlist is a lot like finding the right names for my characters or the right scene elements to compliment the plot. When I get it right something clicks inside and I can feel the story take a stronger shape.
Like most people that make play lists, I listen to mine every time that I sit down to write, but also whenever I'll be in the car for a longer period of time, just before bed, and when I'm working out. The music gets me back into the story quicker than I could manage without it. It's an almost Pavlovian response at this point and instead of getting sick of the songs I welcome them because they get my creative juices flowing. It also helps to block out kid noise or coffee shop banter that would otherwise distract me during writing sessions.
Which is all well and good you might say, but what types of songs do I pick?
I tend to pick songs based on a combination of lyrics and rhythym, but lyrics almost always are the deciding factor for me. I pick songs that my character could be singing to me; songs that convey their feelings and thoughts. If I find one that works particularly well, it becomes the heart of my playlist and will probably give me chills when I hear it. This happened for my upcoming book, THE SILO, when I first heard this song by Linkin' Park (who by the way, are ALWAYS on my playlist and nine times out of ten provide the perfect song that gets right to the heart of my character's feelings). This opening image is artsy, but uber creepy in a still shot, right?
The words to this song are EXACTLY what my character, Lyla feels for most of the book. Whenever I need to get back into her head, I play it several times in a row and I am there which makes going back to do edits after a lot of time has passed much, much easier. If you listen to the lyrics carefully, the entire gist of my book is in there...at least from where I sit.
So how about you? Do you use music as inspiration this way? If you do, what are some of the songs that represent your story most? I'd love to hear all about them in the comments.
Over the years Amy has been, among other things, a doll maker, a fondue waitress, a fifth grade teacher, and a stay at home mom. Now she writes contemporary young adult novels full time when she isn’t tackling the Mount Everest of laundry piles and refereeing smack downs between her two very lively daughters. Her book, THE SILO, about a girl whose grown up in an apocalyptic cult and the last few months leading up to what might be the end of the world will debut with Random House in the fall of 2013.