Have you noticed how more and more writers are giving ‘playlists’ that correspond to their manuscript? Nearly all the writers I follow have these music playlists mentioned either in their books or on their websites.
Rachel Caine mentions her musical muse, Joe Bonamassa, in both. Taking it a step further, Barnes & Noble cashes in with a display of CDs next to Stephenie Meyer’s books. Nothing wrong with that, everyone profits, author, musician, bookseller and the fans. Two forms of entertainment helping each other out. Hollywood has been doing it for years, with music soundtracks and book to screenplay or vise versa.
The topic of this post maybe music, but writing is the focus of our blog, so back to the writing aspect.
The first short story I sold is based on a song. At the time I didn’t think twice about it, who am I to question where the ideas come from? I just played Shilo by Neil Diamond over and over, letting the story magically appear on the screen. There were a lot of raised brows when I explained where it came from, no one got the correlation. Not that I could blame them, the story doesn’t resemble the song in anyway. It wasn’t supposed too, it’s Mr. Diamond’s song. The story was something I pictured. For those who ask where ideas come from this is a prime example.
I don’t feel the reader of any manuscript truly understands the meaning behind the words or where they come from. I don’t even pretend to know what an author was thinking at the time. When a writer explains what ignites an idea leading to a story, there’s a moment of oh, I can see that or that’s not what I thought it meant. Once the words are on the page they are left up to the interpretation of the reader, how they feel about it, what it sparks in their imagination. Just like listening to Shilo sparked mine.
At the time of that story, I didn’t think about how what I listened to affected my writing. You don’t always notice environment–where you write, when you write, everything around you, all things that impact what and how you write–when you’re deep into a story. The longer I’ve been doing this the more I pay attention. Listening to something slow and weepy conveys depression and pain. Classical makes me want to write epic fantasy. Listening to country or southern fried rock can give my characters an easygoing attitude, at least on the surface. Toss in hard rock and you probably will get some anger or violence. I gravitate to certain artists or songs, each defining character, place or mood.
Look at your own music habits. Is music one of your muses, or do you prefer silence or the sounds of nature? Does it help you with characterization, motivation, inspiration, perspiration? Does a certain song ignite a bonfire that can only be put out by becoming a story?