What does Tibetan throat singing, EDM, and Scottish music have in common?
Absolutely nothing… unless you consider that they are all music.
Normally, when someone listens to a playlist there is a kind of flow or cohesion between the tracks. They all cover the same themes or follow the same style but when it comes to creating a book playlist – at least for me – it can be all over the place. For some of my playlists I have that even flowing transition between songs, all of which have followed a similar theme or are part of the same genre, while others jump around like a dozen apples in a back of a pick-up truck down a uneven dirt road.
It’s those playlists, though, that end up being the best fit for what I’m writing and I want to share with you how I go around curating pieces that inspire me to focus/write.
What are your themes?
This is important to think about because this will help narrow the large spectrum of music out there. Are you writing a romance? Maybe R&B or Pop love ballads are what you need. Is it fantasy based? Then how about some Celtic music, Steampunk bands, or heck, try some Witchpop (yes, that is a thing). You can also find covers of current popular songs in a variety of styles that may suit your themes. For the first book of my series I was obsessed with Scottish music and covers of popular pop hits.
Establishing the themes and genre of your story will help cut done endless hours of searching through thousands of songs to the few that you’re hunting for.
Where is your world based?
Is it based in England? China? Modern day or the past? These are all important to developing a playlist that doesn’t only go with your genre but also your world. For my book series, Prophecy Six, there are a variety of cultures scattered throughout the book and the music I’ve curated for those locations reflect that. Don’t be afraid to look up music from other cultures because you’ll never know what will inspire you. For example, I was looking for a string based music with singing that could work with the mountain people of Morza. These people were based on elements of Tibetan nomadic customs and the New Zealand Maori traditions. These allowed me to narrow my search to finding music that suited the culture I was trying to create and I came across something I would have never found I enjoyed – Tibetan throat singing.
Emotions, emotions, emotions
This is probably key. At times when you’re writing it may be hard to put yourself in a certain emotional state. If you need to be pumped to write that battle scene but you just came home after an eight hour shift it isn’t always easy. Choosing music that will get you in that mood can help with the flow of your writing. Consider the emotions of a scene and narrow down on music that helps you feel those needed emotions.
I can see clearly now the music’s on!
Then there are songs that you hear on the radio that for a moment you picture a small music video with your characters acting out. It doesn’t fit your theme, and it doesn’t suit the cultures, and it doesn’t evoke any emotion but for whatever reason it just fits. For that scene you’ve been trying to work out has appeared before your very eyes in your own personal music video and everything makes sense. Those are the songs you add just to help with certain scenes.
You don’t have to make one playlist. You can make various playlists for the same project or one playlist for each project you are working on. The choice is yours in the end. Music can be fun to listen to but can also be a tool to help your creative juices flow. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try music you may not like because you’ll never know, you may just be pleasantly surprised.