Join the discussion! We’re talking about how and why music inspires writers as we work. This is a topic close to my heart, as nothing inspires me more. I’d love to hear how music has affected your writing process. Feel free to comment and/or share links to your favorite writing music.
We begin our discussion with a Q&A with Author Noelle Pierce, who has also written a short story, “Undone,” for the anthology Words to Music. Let’s get to it!
What song is your anthology story based on? Do you like the song? If so, why? And what about that song speaks to you?
Come Undone by Duran Duran is a song I loved. It’s got a mellow, serene feel to it, and the words were incredibly inspiring (the video even helped)! I’ve always associated this song with water, not just because of the video, but because I spent a lot of time at the beach when it first hit the charts, listening to it while we sat in tide pools.
Do you listen to music when you write?
How does the music influence your writing?
Music is one of my pillars. I have playlists for nearly everything I write, and I have a radio or speakers in every room of my house for times when I’m not writing (yes, even the bathroom). I can’t imagine my world without music. When I’m not sure what sort of music will work for a story, I’ll put Pandora on and see what happens.
What do you usually listen to?
It depends on what genre I’m writing. If it’s a historical romance, then I need songs that give that sort of feel, but are modern. Classical music by current composers is some of my favorite, but I also have a special theme song for every story, which sticks out from the playlist crowd while I’m writing. For example, for Stars in the Night, the theme song is “Until…” by Sting, and Reaching for the Moon uses “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows. When I’m stuck and can’t move a story forward, I play only the theme song on repeat and the words start to flow again. And I never seem to tire of the songs (of course, once I’m writing, the music fades into the background and the story is the main focus, so maybe that’s why?).
How does music affect and inspire your writing process?
It’s almost always the feel of the music, the tone it portrays. I couldn’t listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack (which I adore) when I’m writing a Regency romance. It just doesn’t give the right feeling or induce the right images. Unless the romance includes a pirate on the high seas. *grin* Occasionally, the words work really well, too. The theme songs for my projects have the prerequisite tone and rhythm, but also the right lyrics. My Regency take on the Perseus and Andromeda myth includes an unrequited love from the hero to his sister’s best friend, the heroine. Her current situation leads her to look at her world differently, and she finally sees Percy as more than a friend–except her father is marrying her off to a degenerate. The theme song for this one is “So Close” by Jon McLaughlin, and the words are perfect. “So close to reaching that famous happy end; Almost believing this was not pretend. Let’s go on dreaming for we know we are…” It’s so poignant for them.
Noelle Pierce writes all sorts of stories, but her first love will always be romance. She writes historical romance based on the constellations, and is currently seeking representation. Living in Atlanta, Noelle is a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. http://www.noellepierce.com
You’ll see my thoughts on music at Noelle’s site here: http://noellepierce.com/blog/?p=1341
To kick off the discussion, here’s one of my favorite bits of music to write to: Persuasion (2007)
Thanks for having me, Cheri!
I love this about you, Noelle!! 🙂 I, too, use music a lot to inspire my writing! Songwriters are channeling the same emotions and attitudes that we need to feel as authors when constructing character emotions and their setting. Music helps me create moods for different scenes – I listen to a lot of rap and alternative when writing magical fight scenes. Romantic scenes need good love ballads. And for those pensive moments, I need those dark, depressing songs. Haha. I think music just helps me feel what my characters need to feel so that I can better translate that to the page!
Yes! That’s it exactly. I’ve created playlists and CDs for love scenes, action scenes, and sad scenes as well. It helps me tap into those strong emotions when I might not have it in me to keep writing. Glad it works for you too!
I think you’re absolutely right…we need the mood of the music to help us tap into our characters’ feelings! When there’s action or suspense, we need the music that amps us up, too. Thanks for commenting, Krissi!
I think music can definitely inspire you – you pick up the vibes, and you resonate inside. It’s only natural. Although it’s an art to pick the right music, that puts you in the right mood to create the lyrics that you want to create.
Music is indeed a huge inspiration.
For me, a few key songs seem to inspire a story. For Highland King the song that got my brain really thinking was “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits. One normally thinks of this phrase as applying to a modern battlefield, but the opening lines suggest the time and place for Highland King.
“These mist covered mountains, are a home now to me
But my home is the lowlands, and always will be…”
The rest of the song almost follows the storyline.
Another old song was the inspiration to the love story in Highland King.
“I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”, by the Moody Blues fits with the story’s years long yearning for the hero and heroine to reunite.
And finally, when you’re writing a story set in ancient Scotland, what can beat listening to Celtic music, flavored with bagpipes. It just takes you there and makes you feel like you’re somewhere in the highlands, cold wind blowing, overlooking a Scottish loch.
Ha, Jeff, just thinking about Celtic music conjures up images of those isles! I don’t know the Moody Blues song, so I’m off to YouTube now. 😀 Glad you could stop by!
What a great idea this is, Noelle! Hope the song was good. 😉
Shoot, Jeff, if it were me, I would have had the score for Braveheart playing 24/7 in the background. Sadly, though, I bought that album twice and misplaced it twice! Do you ever find it difficult to concentrate on writing when listening to songs with singers/lyrics?
Sometimes I do find it difficult when someone is singing. I don’t have all of the Braveheart soundtrack on my computer, but I do have certain songs. The other day I was writing a sad scene and one of sad songs from Braveheart started playing. I can’t even recall which one, but it choked me up because it fit the scene so well.
I really enjoyed this post by Noelle! I use Pandora by genre to write to as well but my feelings around what I choose are more intuitive. I tend to pick rock music when I’m doing action and reflective stuff like Dylan when writing my blog. Female folk divas like Jewel and Norah Jones as default.
Using Pandora is a great idea, Toby! I also like listening to Last.FM.com on my iPhone. I’ve discovered a lot of new music that way. And having listened to the same albums for nearly a decade, it’s nice to switch it up now and again. *wink*
Toby and Cheri – I love Pandora for reminding me of songs I’ve forgotten or never bought/downloaded for my Closing Time serial. Part of what I do on there is have at least one song (linked to YouTube), since the MC is so driven by music. I get tired of the music I have on my iTunes, though, so Pandora gives me new ideas or pulls up older music that I may not have thought of. I’ve even built entire episodes around a song (though I really have to structure it because it’s nearly Last Call at the bar–bwahahah…I crack myself up.) 😀