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Writer-Talk Tuesday: The Soundtracks of Our Stories

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In my years of experience hanging out with both published authors and unpublished writers, it’s not unusual to hear writers talking about the “soundtracks” of their stories—the music they listen to to help them get into the world of their stories.

After all . . . there’s a reason TV shows and movies have music.

Music helps set a mood, evoke emotion, and recall imagery.

It’s no secret that when I was writing Stand-In Groom, I had a very specific soundtrack that I listened to to get “in the mood” to write—and very specific songs I listened to over and over as I crafted certain scenes (most especially Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and “Return to Me”—and if you’ve read the book, you know which scenes I’m talking about!) In fact, for my 500th blog post contest, in addition to giving away copies of my very first book, I gave away copies of a CD I burned with the songs mentioned in the book.

For Menu for Romance, it was less about specific music and more about specific movies—and one specific song from one specific John Wayne movie.

With A Case for Love, it was all about the Waltzit’s one-two-three, one-two-three, Forbes.

While I was almost always listening to music while writing the Matchmakers series, it was more just to have something in the background that matched the mood of the scenes I was writing—predominantly instrumental, usually movie soundtracks.

When it comes to the Ransome Trilogy, I have very specific movie soundtracks I went to . . . Captain Blood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, The Sea Hawk, The Pirates of Penzance, Master and Commander, and more. Music that evokes both a certain era and a certain imagery.

For the Great Exhibition series, it’s been a little harder to find soundtrack music that fits. The tracks from the Austen film adaptations are okay—though they do call to mind the empire-waisted white gowns of the early 19th century and not the bell-shaped skirts and long, pointed waistlines of 1851. So these been my go-to soundtracks (click the cover to hear my favorite piece from each album):

What is your favorite music to write by? Do you have a soundtrack for each of your stories—specific music you turn on when you need to get into the world of your story or the heads of your characters?

  1. Tuesday, June 12, 2012 12:21 am

    Since my story is modern, I just listen to my favorite style of music (electronica – which for most people isn’t conducive to anything, much less writing).
    Soundtracks are too sweeping and epic for me–I need the visual stimulation of the movie to keep the melancholia at bay.

    I do have certain songs that represent the actual characters:
    Beyond the Invisible – Enigma
    The Promise – When in Rome

    And the whole work:
    Imagine – Armin van Buuren


  2. ausjenny permalink
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 10:47 am

    Im not an author but there is music I associate with some books. When I was a teen I use to read and reread the Peggy books (they were a christian teen called Peggy and around 8 books) I use to listen to an Evie tape and still if I hear some of the songs it makes me think of these books.
    Also I was reading some Marion Wells books (think thats the name) they are about early days of the Morman church and how it started and the man who started it was featured. It was a three book series and it was quite dark in places with the some of the practices back then. I was reading them at the bookshop and listening to a Randy Stonehill CD (Lazarus Heart) and I just cant listen to it anymore one song especially (cant remember the name) but when I hear it it brings back these books and the feelings when I read them.


  3. Tuesday, June 12, 2012 12:18 pm

    Until the sci-fi thing happened, music during the writing process distracted me. Couldn’t handle it. I’d listen to my movie soundtrack Pandora station while editing, but not while writing.

    But right now, if my Nickelback-3 Doors Down-Evanescence-Lifehouse Pandora station is playing, you can bet your lunch I’m writing. I can’t write without it. 3 Doors Down especially right now because so many of their songs capture the moods of my hero. I’m *thisclose* to downloading Away From The Sun, just because so many songs off of it fit this story.

    For the first time ever each of my leads has a theme song. His is 3 Doors Down “Hold Me When I’m Gone” and hers is Evanescence “Bring Me To Life”.


    • Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:41 am

      I felt Bring Me to Life was my own theme song for a long time. Then God took me out of that holding pattern. 🙂 I walked down the aisle to Lifehouse’s Hanging by a Moment.


  4. Wednesday, June 13, 2012 7:05 am

    My family know I am a nut case if the music is too mournful. So they are bamboozled when they hear the flies I listen to when I write. The first scene I wrote to music was a death scene. So I chose something appropriate. A slow, minor key, instrumental old hymn. And it stuck… for ages. Even for happy scenes, it did the trick for me but I can’t explain why! I’ve moved on now, but some days I go back to it, and the family tip toe away, scared for me and what’s going on with the woman they know can’t stand sad music. lol 🙂


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