by Fae Rowen
First of all, on this Veteran’s Day week-end, a heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who serve our country in the Armed Forces. And to the families that support them. My father was in the Army, my husband served in the Coast Guard, and my godson is currently a pilot in the Navy. Won’t it be wonderful if they all could be at home?
I’ve always been connected to music. Heck, I played the piano competitively. In fifth grade, the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a recording of The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana – and the sheet music to Batman. I became that river with its sometimes dancing sometimes powerful current every time I heard it. My soul sang when I listened to it.
It’s no wonder that when I wrote my first novel, a fantasy medieval adventure romance (I never intended to try to sell it!), I listened to the same song over and over and over. Sting’s Fields of Gold supplied scene after scene of ideas as well as the tone of the book. In fact, I named the hero’s home after the title of the only song in my playlist.
My gothic medieval was born from St. Elmo’s Fire, Man in Motion. More on that later.
The music you select doesn’t have to relate to the setting of your book. But for me, the music supplies the tone, the background, and the through-line for my characters. When you’re writing, you don’t need to blast your speakers. For me, the music is soft. Not so soft that I wonder if it’s there, but not so loud as to actively engage me in listening.
Movie soundtracks support all the emotions in the picture, so they are wonderful sources of “mood music” for scenes you may be having difficulty with. Think of Braveheart. From innocent love, to battles, to betrayal, to torture and death, you’ve got it all in the music.
The next movie you watch, let a section of your brain pay attention to the music. If you really enjoy a movie, consider listening to snippets of the soundtrack on iTunes to see if the music added to the richest of your experience. One of the first things I did after seeing Star Wars was buy the soundtrack. Darth Vader’s theme is wonderful when writing a villain!
An interesting thing happened recently with my WIP, a YA science fiction tale. I was half a dozen chapters in, when I realized that the new must have additions to my iPOD were all related to the new book. I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics-it’s all about the rhythm and melody for me-so I downloaded the lyrics. Wow!
- The Foo Fighter’s Learn to Fly is my hero’s theme song.
- Alanis Morissette’s Guardian could have been written for my heroine, a guide/bodyguard.
- The Offspring’s You’re Gonna Go Far Kid is the refrain of the young man in love with my heroine. It mirrors his frustration as he watches the budding relationship between his love and her latest tourist. (Explicit lyric warning–think frustrated young man!)
- And Pirates in the Caribbean (Part 3) is the “theme” of the book. Yeah, in outer space.
Little did I know when I downloaded this group of songs, they all related to my new book. I just knew that I finally had time and remembered to buy the songs I’d liked enough to capture with SoundHound.
I tried an interesting experiment. When I wrote a scene in a character’s POV, I played that person’s song. It helped me settle right into their outlook on life, and their emotions about their situations. The writing was easier, my critique group had less complaints (okay, obviously last week I wrote without music!) I felt nourished and couldn’t wait to get back in my chair for the next pages.
A secret, just between us. That gothic medieval? Well, the whole idea for the book came from the theme to St. Elmo’s Fire. The song gave me the pivotal scene, the black moment when the hero confronts his stepfather’s hate-filled ways. From that scene, it was not too difficult to backtrack and see how they got to that point. The whole book was about breaking the boy but not the man when he returned to his birthplace as a knight.
If you’ve been drawn to a particular song or kind of music recently, see if there’s a parallel with your current project. You might be surprised.
I hope you enjoy the links to the music I’ve mentioned. I really enjoyed listening to them again.
Have you used music for writing inspiration? Has music guided you to write something differently than you’d originally envisioned? Let us know, while you listen to the music!