"NaNoWriMo-ing": Part II [Music]

Monday, November 24, 2014

The fact that I'm taking a writing break to write this post is so counterproductive I don't have the words to describe. What can I say? I just love you guys. Bring it in... *virtual hugs all around*

That right up there. That may be delirium setting in. 

One of the things that has really been getting me through this month is music. About a week or two before NaNoWriMo began, I'd begun adding songs that remind me of my novel (then just an outline) to a playlist. It's kind of like a soundtrack to my story. So that's my advice. If you're having a hard time pushing through this final week of NaNoWriMo or just need motivation to write more frequently, create a 'novel soundtrack'. And this morning I'm going to talk about my soundtrack, the songs on it and how I chose particular songs for particular scenes. 

Making A Noveling Soundtrack

I won't be sharing too much about my novel (because again being productive of my total not-worth-stealing ideas), but when I don't share details, I will give examples, if I can. 

The most important part of compiling a playlist of songs to inspire you to write your story is, obviously, choosing songs that inspire you in general. Even if it doesn't really seem go with your novel, it can inspire you just because, and that's where I advise that you start. Besides, you are not a random collection of hopes and thoughts that have no relation. Generally, the things we create are closely-related to the values we hold dear, the ideas we have etc., so what inspires you will probably inspire your story if that makes sense. Here are a few songs that generally inspire me:

The Light by The Album Leaf
I never miss a week of Scandal so it's no surprise that when I think of those 'silent romance' scenes (Olitz moments!) I hear this in my head. I'm not sure if my novel has those scenes but the song feels so meaningful. 

Beating Heart by Ellie Goulding
When I saw Divergent, I loved this track so much. To me, it signifies that final night before you know that everything is going to change. I think everyone can relate to that feeling.

Bartholomew by The Silent Comedy
This is one badass song. Everytime I hear it, I remember one badass vampire Klaus Mikaelson's fight scene in season 1 of The Originals when he annihilates like two dozen vampires before they surrender (here!). He's a baaad man. And although I'm not exactly sure where it fits in my story, the drums and guitar melodies make me feel powerful.

Next is to think of the themes or particular scenes in your novel and find songs that sound like they fit. You can choose slower ballads for romantic and deeper scenes, or epic instrumentals for suspenseful moments, fun upbeat music for those playful scenes that play like a cutesy montage in your head. You can also match lyrics to scenes if possible. Doing so really helps when your writing because you hear words that almost express what your characters might be feeling. Below are a few examples from my soundtrack as well as a few that I thought up just now.

Your Hands Are Cold by Dario Marianelli 
A lovely track from the 2011 Pride & Prejudice movie soundtrack, it reminds me of all things wonderful about love. Around the 2:40 mark, the swell of the music is so beautiful it almost makes me cry. Can somebody say first kiss?

Intro by The Xx
Another generally-inspiring song. Because of how steady the song is throughout and the video I saw for it (here), I've always associated it with running or a trek of some sort, something liberating. So when I wrote a scene when my character went for a run, I had this song on repeat. 

Do I Wanna Know? by Artic Monkeys
Most romances start with one or both characters wondering if the other feels the same way. Not only is this track a good, gritty rock song, but it describes perfectly that wonder and hesitation involved in a situation like that. I specifically love these lines: "So have you got the guts? / Been wondering if your heart's still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts / Simmer down and pucker up / I'm sorry to interrupt. It's just I'm constantly on the cusp of trying to kiss you / I don't know if you feel the same as I do / But we could be together if you wanted to".

Time & The Dream Is Collapsing by Hans Zimmer
There comes a point in my novel where shit is just hitting the metaphorical fan. My characters wind up in the complete wrong place at the wrong time and witness something that they can't come back from, the OMG moment. I find that Hans Zimmer's instrumentals are just perfectly epic for such moments. Time is great at building it up for that moment when things look sketchy, the up on the roller coaster. And then Dream Is Collapsing (which in Inception is the moment things are getting real) is the downfall, that eyes popping out of your head "is-this-real-life?" moment. It makes me excited to write these scenes.

Love Me Again by John Newman
I know it seems like it, but not all of my novel is doom, gloom and tension. There are really fun parts and for my montage of happiness, this song is just perfect. My characters get to a point when they've figured things out (or at least they think they have) and just really learn to enjoy the moments they have together. It doesn't hurt that I just love this song!

How do you find songs to add to your novel playlist? I suggest checking out the soundtracks for some of your favorite movies and shows. Many of the songs on my soundtrack are from shows like The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, and movies like Inception, Batman Begins, Pride & Prejudice. Also check out this post by Susan Dennard for more ideas.

Ironically enough, listening to and talking about all of these songs has motivated me to jump back into my story. Which is a good things because I'm almost 10,000 words behind schedule :o eep! I hope this was helpful. If you're interested in my first NaNoWriMo tip post, click here

Tell me about the music you write or blog to. What songs inspire you in general? 


  1. This is such a great idea! Music is a wonderful motivator for all sorts of activities so I'm not surprised it's helping inspire your writing!

  2. I'm boring and love to listen to the P&P soundtrack, but I don't write books so .. boring ;) Loved learning more about your process, glad you got motivated by the end - good luck!

  3. I love me some music!! Il defo try these (if my job ever gives me a bloody break so I can write in peace ... the struggle Kar ... its real!) Miss you lady!


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