One thing I’ve been trying to do with my writing lately is to set a playlist. It’s a trick I picked up from my friend Tudor Robins, who listened to Taylor Swift’s early stuff while writing her first big book, Appaloosa Summer. If you’ve read it, you’ll see how it’s a perfect fit – dreamy pop country, all about young love, as if it had been written to provide the soundtrack of the movie version that plays in your head when reading.
(Don’t you always have a movie version playing in your head while reading? I even like to cast my books with popular actors. But that’s a post for another time.)
When I was writing Ten at the Wedding, I tried to have just one song in mind for each story. It didn’t always work out, but some stories do have a strong song association. I would have loved to use some lyrics from these songs in the book, and originally I even did have a couple of quotes in there, but unfortunately lyrics are copyrighted and can’t be used without permission, and I didn’t have the heart to start chasing down record company executives. (Many thanks to my editor, by the way, for knowing all about this and catching it!)
For example, my story Claire at the Wedding, about Claire and her French husband Etienne, is absolutely set to the song Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. In fact, I heard that song playing on the radio once while driving home from the grocery store, and while the germ of the characters were already in place, the song made the whole story just pop right out.
Henry, the pastor, has a sweet moment when he thinks about a special song to him and his wife – God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. It’s what I was listening to while writing that one.
It didn’t make the final cut of the book, but Lisa’s story – the photographer from the first tale – used to mention that the couple’s first dance was to Marry You by Bruno Mars.
And of course, the song Easter Parade brings together Tim and the mysterious, chatty, stylish lady who is seated next to him.
It’s kind of an eclectic mix – probably the only place you’re going to find all of these is on my own iPod. But it fits, I think, with the odd mix of characters featured in the book.
Now that I’m working on a new project – a longer story, maybe even a novel – getting the soundtrack right is a high priority. Do you set a soundtrack to your own writing?
Lee Ann Eckhardt Smith says
What a great idea!! Love this.
I’ve used music before in a less specific way: I find I get inspired by other modes of art, especially listening to music and I often get the urge to write if I’ve been listening to music that I think is particularly creative. Seems to stir up some of the creative juice! I’ve not used soundtracks or playlists when actually writing… find them too distracting. Sometimes I’ll put some background instrumental on and I’ve even tried Mozart, whose music is said to be particularly good to provoke brain waves that spur creativity. Who knows? Music in all its forms can spark many emotions, which is what as writers we are trying to access and evoke! I am going to try to find a song or songs to play for the next poem I write, and I’ll let you know what happens!