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Tip Tuesday #106

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where writers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy Tuesday! Today's tip on music comes to you from Alexandra Loewen. Alexandra doesn't blog, but she does have a Twitter @alexandraloewen. Please consider following, and to read another tip from Alexandra see #75. Cheers!

Add Music to your Writer’s Tool Box

We all know how powerful music is in evoking emotion and enhancing mood, whether it be in a movie, a wedding, a restaurant, or at a sporting event. I have found the same is true when I am writing. The right music can help me craft everything from high energy adventure to tension-filled emotional dialogue. My personal rule is that the music must be lyric-free. Instrumental music works best for allowing me to capture the right feeling.

Finding music for your writing is by nature personal. If you need a starting point, I suggest trying some movie or television soundtracks. I favor them because their tracks have been chosen to support a rich variety of moods, and often you can get a nice mix of fast-paced action, lighthearted songs, slow romantic ballads, suspense builders, and songs evoking any feeling you can imagine.

A terrific place to find soundtracks and other CDs is your local library. Borrow a few and see what kind of muse you can conjure!

If you already have a playlist of inspirational “writing music”, please consider sharing it in the comments!

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Anything by John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Alexandre Desplat
  • “The Painted Veil”
  • “Memoirs of a Geisha”
  • “The Piano”
  • BBC’s “Planet Earth”
  • “Pearl Harbor”
  • All the soundtracks for “Harry Potter,” “Chronicles of Narnia,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Star Wars”
  • “Pride and Prejudice” (Dario Marianelli’s version)

- Alexandra Loewen



23 comments:

  1. Anything by Two Steps From Hell. They only have one commercially available album that you can find on Amazon or iTunes, but a quick YouTube search will likely turn up the hundred or so tracks to their name.

    All instrumental, crossing every possible mood/feeling/theme you can imagine.

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  2. Great tip. I use writing music a great deal. My top selections would have to be anything by Explosions in the Sky and the Amelie soundtrack by Yann Tiersen (great for writing magical realism). Most recently I have been writing along to the superb album by A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

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  3. I don't list to music in my writing. That's a great idea to pic a movie soundtrack because they're so into setting the mood of the scene. I'll have to try it. Thanks for the great tip.

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  4. I'm like Natalie, I don't listen to music when writing, but I know lots of writers who swear by it. I never thought about TV/movie soundtracks though - great idea!

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  5. Thank you, Ian and Dan, for your music suggestions- I will look those up today.

    Thank you, Natalie and Kristin, for your comments!

    And thank you, Casey, for posting my tip!

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  6. Great tip. I use music when writing, but only instrumental music. Lyrics distract me, so soundtracks are perfect.

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  7. Good tip! I can't really write to music, but I do use it to get in the mood. I choose music that I think would put my character in the right mood for the scene I'm writing, and I go from there.

    I can't use movie soundtrack music, though - all I can see in my head is the scene from the movie it was from. LOL! To each his own, I guess.

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  8. I usually go the play list route and hunt songs that fit my scenes, but I've been listening to classical and soundtracks for my current WIP.

    I love Pride and Prejudice and Amelie! I have Pirates but the songs are too intense sometimes. : p

    Thanks for the tip, Alexandra!

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  9. I personally can't write while listening to music, but if I could, I would add the Lord of the Rings soundtrack to that list.

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  10. So true. Music has always helped me make up stories but cannot write at the same time. Its - listen to it first and weave stories at the same time. Then write at a later time. Relieved to know others feel the same!

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  11. Thanks for the post! I can't write without music and am always looking for new songs. Actually, I just asked some authors yesterday on Twitter "if your protagonist had a theme song, what would it be?" I got some really interesting results! The hashtag is #characterthemesong

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  12. String quartets Bond and Escala are great too. If you haven't heard of them, they revamp classical music. It's fun stuff.

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  13. I can recall the evocative leanings of the music when I was watching Memoirs of a Geisha. Sounds like I have somethig to add to my "borrow from the library" list.

    Thanks for this tip.

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  14. I love this tip because I just started doing it. I cant listen to pop music or heavy lyrical stuff. It needs to be non-distracting, pro-inspirational kind of stuff.

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  15. I LOVE listening to soundtracks to get me in the right mood for a particular scene. Some of my favorites are the Braveheart and Last of the Mohicans soundtracks, but right now I'm writing a sci-fi story, so I'm digging the Transformers and Godspeed You Black Emperor!

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  16. Thank you for your comments, Sean, Ishta, Casey, Shilpa, Angela and Jessie!

    Thank you for your music suggestions (and comments!), Matthew, Kris, and Cambria. I am really excited to have some new (to me), recommended music to try!

    Swift Scribbler- thanks for your comments, too. I'm intrigued by your Twitter question and I'll be going over there to check out that hashtag. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. I've heard it suggested to have a playlist to listen to while you write, but I'd never thought of using movie soundtracks. Great idea.

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  18. I've never thought about listening to music when writing, but using instrumental music to guide your writing muse sounds like a great idea. I will have to try it!

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  19. Thanks very much, Lisa and Jennifer!

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  20. This is a great reminder on using soundtracks. Thank you!

    Jessica Brody talks about how she uses white noise when writing. Which I enjoy as well

    http://martzbookz.blogspot.com/2011/08/interview-with-ny-bestselling-author.html

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  21. I like to listen to 'young folks' by peter bjorn and john. For some reason listening to the same song over and over again really helps me focus.

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  22. I'm almost always plugged into my ipod when I write because it blocks out the world.

    my playlist I'm loving has:
    Someone still Loves you Boris Yeltsin
    Passion Pit
    MGMT
    Does it Offend You, Yeah?

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  23. Music plays such a huge role while I'm crafting my outline. It gives me an opportunity to envision a trailer for my book and hit some of the big action and dramatic conflict.

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