Every writer I know uses music as part of their creative process, either when they write, edit, develop characters, etc. For me, music plays a central role in the entire process from inspiration to completion. But the type of music I listen to is dependent on where I am in the process of creating the story: my fav tunes for outlining and my fav soundtrack music for writing.

As a music minor in college (I played the viola for 20+ years), I got used to music serving as a direct link to my emotions.  In writing, the soundtrack music I use helps provide a visceral reaction. It’s like a movie – the dialog is important…but the music MAKES the scene. If you have any doubts about this, try watching a high tension scene without the music. It’s a very different experience. I use music to help set tone, pacing, tension and emotion within the various scenes, substituting words for the feelings I feel listening to the music. 

One great example of the importance of music in my writing came while revising one of my manuscripts a few years ago.  I had decided to completely change the opening 2 chapters. But, I was having a hard time conceptualizing exactly how I wanted the scene to play out; its rhythm.  

That is until I found the PERFECT piece of music.  

This music had the exact cadences I was looking for in the scene. My challenge was to take the music and find words that could do the same thing. I listened to the music over and over for about a week before everything unfolded for me. When I sat to actually write it, I was shocked at the ease with which the storyline wrote itself. Granted, it still needed structural edits, but the content is primarily intact.  

Since that time, I’ve come to use music as an active part of the writing process, relying on it to put me into the appropriate emotional place before setting words on the page. It’s now a never-ending dance between words and music; one I hope my readers enjoy.

How do you use music with your writing or creative process?

Some of my favorite soundtracks or composers to use:

  • Anything by Hans Zimmer (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, The Last Samurai)
  • Music from almost any epic film works well for my climatic scenes
  • Harold Kloser (The Day After Tomorrow)
  • Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven)
  • Rubert Gregson-Williams (Wonder Woman, The Crown)
  • Music from creepy scenes in movies is often useful for darker moments in my stories…

So, how do you use music in your writing?  I would love to hear from you!


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