Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music and Writing and OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE

How many times have you read a book and found a soundtrack playing in your head? That music is given to us when we watch a movie—but as readers, we often create our own playlists.

Many authors have playlists, too. Music is a great way to get yourself in a mood to match the scene you’re writing, or to crawl inside your characters’ minds and to feel what he or she is feeling. Sure, you already know what your characters are feeling—but music intensifies those emotions within your author brain. The right song can help you to mentally experience what your characters are going through, and can make the emotions you transfer to the page even stronger.

I had an extensive and eclectic playlist while writing OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE. I listened to various types of music from different decades, and all of it inspired my writing.

As I’ve mentioned, music helps to capture emotion. If you’ve read the description of my novel, you know that the protagonist, Ari, falls hard into an intense relationship with her boyfriend, Blake. She goes through a soaring high and a crushing low—and music helped me to depict the depth of her emotions.

Two of the songs that inspired me during the high points of Ari and Blake’s relationship were by Sixpence None the Richer: “Breathe Your Name” (http://tinyurl.com/dnmlpe) and “Kiss Me” (http://tinyurl.com/ykbgvc6). These songs portray the strength of Ari’s romantic feelings and the fragility of her emotions. Another song, “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by the Sundays (http://tinyurl.com/27wurvo) sounds so much like Ari—it reflects what she goes through in the story, her sensitivity, and her feelings of being an outsider.

In addition to helping me delve into my protagonist’s (and other characters’) psyche, music also worked to clarify setting. It helped me to depict what my characters were doing and hearing and seeing. For example, when you’re sitting alone in your quiet office, staring at a wall as you ponder a scene in which a group of teens are inside a Manhattan nightclub on New Year’s Eve, music can put you at the club with them. As an author, the right song can often transport you exactly where you need to be.