The Importance of Music in Writing

The world of your words is rich with sounds. The music of life. The music written into your world makes it real, gives it feeling.

Every song tells a story, has a story, can take you on a journey. If it’s good. If the music resonates. If it hits home. When incorporating music in writing, think beyond just the pop songs that surround you; think of all the harmonies of the world.

No matter what you’re writing, the world of your words is rich with sounds. The music of life. Car horns, voices, wind. The music written into your world (both fiction and nonfiction) makes it rich, makes it real, gives it texture and emotion.

Consider the soundtrack for your story. It is a microcosm for the journey your characters take. This means that each character who is important enough deserves her/his own soundtrack.

It also means: You must consider what you listen to when you write. It can affect your mood, your word selection, your pacing, the direction of your story. Let it. Choose wisely.

Writing Tip of the Day: Character Soundtracks

Consider creating yourself a playlist (or two, or as many as you need) to put you into the right mindset for writing. Not just of music but of nature sounds as well. Rhythmic beats. Bird calls. 

Maybe one character is an angry, aggressive teenager. Create a heavy metal playlist to listen to when writing him. 

Maybe one character is the quirky, adventurer type, and you think polka fits her personality. Create a polka-for-adventures, music-for-fiction-writing playlist, and get into her groove when you’re writing her dialogue. 

Maybe another character is a new mom, and you want to give her lullabies to sing to her baby late at night. Listen to what she would listen to, and feel what she feels in order to write her so the reader can hear her.

Explore, listen, save. Get out of your normal radio stations and discover deep cuts, live versions, and underground artists in genres you’ve never heard. Consider international music and let the sounds of other cultures impact your mental rhythms. Consider swing, classical, electronic, reggae, Mongolian throat singing.

Save some music that catches your attention and your creativity, and return to them for inspiration, for a change of pace, or to loosen up your thinking when writing fiction or nonfiction. You may be surprised how indulging yourself in sound can make your fingers dance across the page.

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