Making story soundtracks was one of my favorite procrastination techniques as a writer, but in recent years it has stopped being a diversion and started being essential.
Personally I am a big fan of Spotify, so I make playlists on the app that are labeled with the names of my current works-in-progress. You may favor iTunes, Pandora, or some other music program, but the key here is the ability to make your own playlists with the songs and artists in your arsenal. Most of the time, I’ll be listening to a song on the radio in my car on the way to work, and find myself imagining a world or a character I’ve created, so when I get to my destination, I add it into the applicable playlist. Later on, I’ll play it while I’m writing the scene or about the character it called to mind.
I’ve done this for three of my big projects so far with the intention of being part of my writing process instead of a way to avoid my work, which brings me to the whole point of this article: why you should make soundtracks for your own novel.
Music makes the story easier to visualize
Listening to music while you write can have the extremely cool effect of making it more like a movie in your head, so you can go on the epic journey alongside your characters. This makes it easier to “see” things happening, which in turn makes writing them easier.
It can help you gain a deeper understanding of your world
Many of the songs I use for my world-building are those loud movie trailer types, such as songs from Immediate Music, Pendulum, or even existing movie/game soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean and Assassin’s Creed. Many of these songs tend to be wordless and instead of telling me what the place or period looks like, they make me feel it.
Is your world dark and post-apocalyptic? Peppy and bright? Ancient and intense? There are thousands of songs out there that can get your pulse racing in a way that feels as though you are living in that world.
Great music can take you on a journey, so find songs and artists who will take you on the kind of journey you want to write.
It can help you gain a deeper understanding of your character
In contrast to the above point, some songs resonate on more personal levels. If you can, try to find at least two songs for each major character in your story: one that sounds like what would be playing during their greatest triumph and one for their greatest challenge. When you reach those points in your story, play those songs and stand alongside your heroes and villains as they tackle their experiences.
Music can get you out of a rut
Have you ever had that frustrating feeling of not knowing what to write next? No?
Liar. Even the greats have moments of pause, when the right words just aren’t obvious. Some people are fortunate enough to experience it on very rare occasions, but most of us have to trudge through the dreaded swamp of writer’s block at least a few times per project.
When the inevitable wall hits, having a story soundtrack to turn to can work wonders. Maybe giving one of your world-building songs another listen will spark a new city into your mind, or playing a character’s song of tribulation will show you a way to overcome it (or, if you’re in the business of wrecking your characters’ lives, it’ll prompt a new roadblock to throw in their path).
Did this article help you to create a soundtrack for your novel? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles:
Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!