Your Novel's Soundtrack

Photo by Arvind Balaraman

I was on Facebook telling my husband about the new CD I had.

"Where did you get it?" He asked. Or rather, typed in the instant messenger box.

"I made it. I bought the songs online and downloaded them."

"Oh. Okay. What'd you download? Journey?"

(I really do listen to more than Journey, folks. Honest.) "No. Some Alicia Keys, Aretha, blues music, Madonna, and one 80s song by Great White. It's the soundtrack to a story I'm writing."

My husband undoubtedly shook his head from the other side of the internet connection. "You really go out for your obsessions, don't you?"

My logic: Well, if you're only going to do things halfway, why bother?

My husband was making a joke about my habit of associating TV characters to certain songs and vice versa, but it can serve a bigger purpose than pure amusement.

Take a WIP (work in progress), for example. While I was writing the first draft of my novel, I got into the dreaded sagging middle. The plot stalled and I had no idea how to keep the conflict developing. So I put the laptop away and turned on my Ipod.

As the music played, I listened to the lyrics, thinking Hey, those words describe exactly how the heroine feels in the first chapter, or If this book were playing out like a movie, that song would be great in the background of a love scene. Or, That sonorous orchestral piece would be the perfect theme to highlight my hero's brooding nature. And so forth.

There are no rules when it comes to creating the novel's soundtrack. Play it each time you write. It's a motivational and inspirational tool for you. Don't think about things like whether readers would approve of your music choice or if it's historically accurate.

If the Rolling Stone's hard-driving guitars help you to envision your Crusader hero, then by all means let it rock. Who cares if it's not a medieval madrigal that inspired you? Of course, no one's stopping you from downloading madrigals. I know ITunes has at least ten different versions of "Greensleeves".

My story takes place on the western frontier, so country music is a given. But I don't stop at Big and Rich. Everything from Broadway to Christian bands Seventh Day Slumber and Third Day to adult contemporary hits have spurred me on to complete the tale.

And yes. Even Journey played its part.

Do you have a specific album or type of music you play when you write?