Monday, November 19, 2012

What's on Your Novel's Soundtrack?

Music influences our emotions.
It sets de mood.

It can send our pulses pounding, our spines tingling, or help inspire our hearts to worship.
It’s a powerful tool.

But can it be used for writing?

It certainly can for me!

I have several novels in various stages of development and without fail, I have songs that go along with the stories. Today, I’m going to introduce you to some of these stories and songs so you can see how music influences my creativity process.

I use music for each story for 3 reasons.

1.       It sets the mood of the story for my creative juices J

2.       It brings out the romantic theme of the story

3.       It inspires the spiritual theme of the story

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch a movie WITHOUT the background music? If you have, you know what a difference music makes in your emotional responses to scenes. I can only imagine that if some horror movies had their music taken out, they’d be A LOT less frightening J

What about Jaws without those two creepy notes in the background? Not the same.

Pirates of the Caribbean without the swashbuckling orchestra in the background? Oh, Mr. Darcy walking across the field toward Elizabeth WITHOUT the crecendo of music?

Music inspires.

When I’m writing a novel, I listen to various songs. Mind you, I'm not very good at listening to them WHILE writing...way too distracting, but listening to them BETWEEN writing causes all sorts of wonderful creativity :-)

Without fail, one day a song with jump from the CD/radio/movie and claim its spot in that story, or that character's heart. Here are a few examples:

The Thornbearer – Historical Romance – A wounded woman with a past to hide and an unpredictable future struggles to keep bitterness from stealing the hope of a romance with her best friend while nursing the wounded of WWI.

The romantic song for this novel is Nickelback’s Far Awaybecause it really hits at the uncertainty of the relationship between my hero and heroine. Besides, the constant bass thrumming makes me think of bombs dropping on the Frontlines.

The spiritual song for this novel is an original composition called – Let it Go, and talks about how God is calling us to ‘let go’ of the pains and wounds of our pasts so that we can truly live in Him.

The Pride Stealer, sequel to The Thornbearer - A broken woman with a past to bear breaks convention to rescue an army doctor in the trenches of WWI and strengthen the fragile relationship with her estranged sister.

The romantic song is Celine Dion’s- Then You Look At Me - because the flow of the song fits the mood of the story AND the words to the song speak to the way the heroine feels about the hero. When he looks at her, he sees her for who she CAN be, not who she once was.

The spiritual song for this novel is You’re Beautiful by MercyMe because it hits at the insecurities in my heroine. She feels unloveable because of the choices of her past. Her spiritual journey to understand God's love is wonderfully reflected in the words of this song.

A few contemporaries?

My all time favorite story of mine  is Here to Stay - A romance-phobic Appalachian single mom travels to England to solve a 500 year old family mystery and attempts to keep her fragile heart out of the unpredictable hands of a reformed British bad-boy.

It has all sorts of songs associated with it, but I haven’t found the exact spiritual song yet. Still looking for one that focuses on second chances and trusting God’s plan for us. But here are a few of the songs associated with it. The entire series has at least one jazz standard for each book.

                OurLove is Here to Stay  by Frank Sinatra is the main romance song for Here to Stay as well as Colbie Callait's song You Got Me. There's also a fantastic version of Let it Snow involved :-)

                The main jazz standard for book 2 is Let’sCall the Whole Thing Off with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, as well as Colbie Callait's song Fallin' For You

                Book 3 is That’s All by Michael Buble (okay, not a standard) and Try a Little Tenderness

                Book 4, by the same title as the song,  is Easy to Love sung by Billie Holiday or with other songs like L. O. V. E  and a composition from Michael W Smith’s Christmas CD from 2010.

The songs truly reflect the story’s theme and the 'beat' of the storyline.

The spiritual songs reflect the hero or heroine’s greatest spiritual need.

For example, in one of my Contemporary Romances (that is yet to be named), my heroine, Katie, struggles with feeling beautiful because her mother (a model) gave her up as a baby. And even now, after years of having small visits with her mom and never feeling ‘pretty enough’, she struggles with her self-image. The song, You’re Beautiful, byNicole Nordeman fit Katie’s spiritual story…er…’beautifully’ ;-)

And for the hero in another Contemporary Romance, Country Girl Meets City Boy, who has been the ‘outcast’ in his family because he was the troublemaker as a youth, has the song ComeAs You Are by Pocket Full of Rocks (a FABULOUS song for anybody). This song speaks to Alex's belief that he's messed up too much to be loved by God, and can never measure up.

Even my fantasy has a song (Casey’s heard it) which reflects the Father’s love to his children and is an original song created to fit. If I knew how to upload it, I might would be brave enough :-)
Ooo, I just found a new one while writing this post. Matthew West's song When I say I do...oh. I KNOW it's going to fit into a story. And this one too. The Day Before. And it's meant for a hero. I know it!

Because I don't have a lot of time to write, I've created a CD with these songs so I can listen to them as I drive - and boy, oh boy, do I get some wonderful plot twists in mind while I'm driving and listening :-)

Do you just have a certain type of music you listen to while writing your certain story? It doesn’t have to be a specific song, but is it music with a certain ‘sound’ or ‘theme’? If you don’t find your inspiration through music, do you do something else? Walk through a forest? Paint or draw? Exercise? Watch a certain type of movie (I do this one too)?

Share your thoughts J


Sandra Stiles said...

I grew up in a musical family so you would think with a father who was a gospel singer that I could just spout out the songs. I wish it worked that way. I listen to our local Christian Radio Station for inspiration. The only time I have to listen is on the way in to work and on the way home. "Forgiveness" by Matthew West is a song I listen to while working on my "Hit and Run" WIP. Often I'll pull into the school parking lot and write down scenes that have come into my mind from a song I've heard. I use music in my classroom to inspire my students when we write. Most often it is music without words. For instance a song with thunder and rain in the background suddenly produced a lot of creepy writing or sad writing from my students. Music is definitely powerful. Thank for listing some of the music that inspires you. I will check it out and see where it takes me.

Pepper said...

Oooh, Sandra.
I love that song by Matthew West. A great inspirational song.
And I see how music influences my students too. Isn't it amazing? I work with kids on the Autism spectrum and they're even making books with accompanying CDs of music now, so that the music will inspire the kids to experience 'appropriate' emotions while they're reading certain scenes. Yes...powerful.

Sherrinda said...

I cannot write while listening to music with words. I have to listen to sound tracks only so that I don't get distracted. My favorite is the soundtrack to Robin Hood. It has the fast adventure music, as well as the soft romantic music. Very nice.

I love how you have broken it up into mood, romantic, and spiritual. You are so creative!

Pepper said...

I love that soundtrack, Sherrinda.

AND, btw, I do not listen to these while I'm writing. I have a hard time writing while 'word' music is going on, but I fill up the spaces in between writing with music to help me create when I DO have time to write :-)

Jeanne T said...

Pepper, I love this idea. I have found a couple of songs to go with my story, but I haven't thought a ton about this. I can't listen to music when I write, because I think about the words or, with instrumental music, I find myself listening to the cadences or for the melodies and harmonies. :)

I'm definitely going to explore the idea of songs that represent aspects of my story.

You've broadened my horizon. Thanks, Pepper!

Amanda said...

What a great post, Pepper! I love listening to music while I write! Love it!! Some of my favorites are the Downton Abbey soundtrack, the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, and the Age of Innocence soundtrack. When I listen to music, I’m often making a mental music video about my novel. I love all the songs you picked and have found a few new favorites by listening to them. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I LOVE having a soundtrack for my stories! I make a new one for each story I write, storing my playlist to listen to just for fun or when I need inspiration. I usually delete it after I'm finished with the story, but it's fun to hear that song down the road and be reminded of my characters or a specific scene in my story.