Soundtracks And Music To Write By

6A5072FE-4223-43BE-9690-BB8282C350BDIf history is a major influence on what I write, alongside philosophy and literature, then music is the catalyst that actually gets everything going. Music influences — and in some cases even shapes — the words I write. And I mean everything I write. Even the posts on this blog are shaped and focused by what I am listening to at the time (for the record, I’m listening to Mumford & Sons’ The Road to Red Rocks live album as I type this).

I’ve mentioned before that the very first thing I write for any story is the final scene. That final scene gives the story shape and focus by giving me an end-point to work towards. It also helps to define the emotional tone and message of the story itself. For Somewhere Peaceful, that means I wrote the final scene of tragedy and loss even before I wrote the words to get folks there…and that process defined the (sad and bitter) tone and mood of the story.

But how did music play a role?

Well, like the writing process for the scene I described in this previous post, that concluding scene had a “soundtrack” to it…a soundtrack that, through that initial creation process, shaped the entire damned story.*

*If you’re wondering, the two key songs for that final scene are “Ghosts That We Knew” by Mumford & Sons and “Be Still” by The Fray. Both songs, by the way, still have the power to evoke all the emotion and loss and pain that went into creating that scene every single time I hear them…

Over time, the soundtrack for Somewhere Peaceful to Die grew. It grew by songs and bands; it grew by genres and styles; it grew until it was well over a hundred songs and a dozen artists. Somewhere Peaceful’s soundtrack led directly into the one for Silence, but for that second story the music has changed…it has changed a great deal. It had to change. Even as my protagonist changed and grew, so too did the soundtrack have to. And it will continue to change, I know that. The music is a reflection of both myself (as the writer) and of Connor, so of course it has to change…

But The Silence That Never Comes is not the only story I’m writing. Nope, I’m also starting the conception and background work for Once Magnificent. Not just a different genre (fantasy versus sci-fi), that story will also have a very different tone and focus from Connor’s stories.

But I don’t have a soundtrack for it. Not yet, anyway.

Crap, I can’t write without a soundtrack!

Oh, all the work I’ll do as part of the background and prep will help, especially the work to “get to know” my characters, but I still don’t have that “one song.” Not in the way Ghosts That We Knew is the “one song” for all of the stories about Connor & Oz.

On the other hand, the quest for music is fun…almost as fun as the writing itself. I love music*…more than almost anything else, I live for music. I need music to listen to just as much as I need books to read, so the prospect of doing a few hours of “shopping” through the iTunes store excites me as much as the chance to browse the shelves of a good book store…

*I took piano lessons as a kid. When I decided to quit, my mom told me, “You’ll regret it later!” Holy shit, was she ever right. I regret stopping those lessons more than I can even begin to describe. Yep, Mom was right…again. *sigh*

0465BAE2-CB70-4D05-A832-7ACD2787E9F1I am, by the way, always shopping for new music…so any and all suggestions are welcome!

Living in Yellowstone last year introduced me to a dozen new bands that I have come to love, but I’m not up there this year. Instead, I’m hoping other folks will come forward with ideas for new stuff to help me out…

Once Magnificent is a story about nostalgia and growing old. It’s about watching your place in the world disappear, even as you fight to hold on to everything you once had. So…err…think about that, then suggest away!

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