Tuesday, January 1, 2013

DUN-DUN-DUN--Epic Music for Epic Writing

Have you ever tried watching a movie without the background music?  The scenes aren't nearly as exciting as they are with the background music.  Ghost stories aren't as creepy, action scenes not as stimulating, and sad scenes not so sad.  While most people don't even pay that much attention to the background music in movies and TV shows, the fact remains that it affects your engagement with what you're watching rather profoundly.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I have playlists for my books.  My playlists aren't songs that I pick after the book is written that I think fit it--they are what I actually listen to, often on endless repeat, while I'm writing.

What does that do for me?  It sets the scene, that's what it does.  It fires the imagination and makes the scenes become so very alive in my head.  The music adds a sense of depth, action, immediacy, and urgency that I otherwise don't have without it.

Music also helps me plot out my books.  I'll listen to songs that catch the mood and feeling of what I'm going for, and I'm able to envision the details of it all as I'm listening.  Yes, before ever touching the keyboard (and many times throughout writing the book), I sit back, headphones in my ears, songs selected and playing, and just imagine as the music flows through my ears. 

You'd be surprised at how interesting and creative your imagination can become when you give it a stimulus and let it run free.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it works.  I find it especially helpful in times of writer's block when I'm beyond frustrated.  Finding a new song or songs that get my brain unstuck has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion.  I see so often people getting advice like, "Just write something!" or "Take a day or two off, then go back to it."  While that advice is good, it doesn't always address the issue.  Many writers have months or years of writer's block before they manage to break through it. Maybe some of that could have been helped by just sitting down with some new tunes and instead of beating their imaginations over the head with rigid demands, just let those imaginations run free.

And it can be any kind of music that moves you--classical, rock, metal, dubstep, country, pop, whatever.  Whatever gets your brain moving and the daydreaming going, that's what you want--but DON'T stick to only what you think you like.  Branch out, especially if you're stuck.  Having trouble with an action scene, and easy listening isn't cutting it? Switch out to some metal, hard rock, industrial, dubstep, and even classical music for some help.  Change it up, find stuff outside your norm that fuels you, and go from there.

And in that vein, you absolutely CANNOT go wrong with either Two Steps From Hell or Audiomachine.  Both "groups" are actually the song and music writers for movies, movie trailers, TV shows, the works.  No, don't think cutesy sitcom-theme songs, think this stuff:

Two Steps From Hell


So, if you're ever stuck, have writer's block, or just need a creative kickstart, kick back with some music and see what happens.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

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