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THE IMPACT OF MUSIC AND YOUR WRITING

January 6, 2021

            A question that comes up often on the forums is “Do you listen to music when you write?”

            While I’ve addressed music to some extent here at Fred Central, I want to take this a step further as well.

            First, do you listen to music when you write?

            Second, does the music influence your writing?

            Third, do you name-drop bands if you’re writing a real-world story?

            Fourth, what would the soundtrack be if one of your stories was made into a movie?

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHEN YOU WRITE?

            I’ve talked about this before in my articles on writing environment. From the forums and personal experience talking to other writers, the answers cover a wide spectrum.

            Some, like those who write at coffee shops, are subjected to whatever soundtrack the store plays, unless they wear their own headphones.

            Speaking of which, many writers go into their own world by wearing headphones (regardless of location) and play everything from Pagan music to disco to rap to classic rock to country to heavy metal (and a few other genres I left out).

            Others who have the capability, turn on the stereo and blast out while they write, or have it on low volume in the background.

            Others prefer the TV in the background.

            Me? Silence. I don’t even have a soundtrack in my head.

            Why?

            I have enough going on in my head with the creative process that I don’t need two things going on at once. It used to be that I had jets taking off, callsigns blurting out from a radio and people talking in the background, all of which I blanked out as I wrote. Now, I’m either writing in silence early in the morning, with the occasional car going by outside, or it’s late in the day, and TVs are on in the other rooms.

            Those are my soundtracks.

            While I could be playing a CD on my computer, I choose not to for the simple fact that I don’t need a cacophony to just ignore. Plus, I cannot stand to wear headphones if I don’t have to. I had to deal with earmuffs for two decades in the Air Force, and I have to desire to relive that!

DOES THE MUSIC INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?

            This can be a mixed bag. When the subject or plot of the book is music oriented, of course. Most books are not, so the question is, does music somehow influence what you write.

            So far, in my experience, I’ve heard a bit of this and that. Song lyrics have inspired people with their story and plot lines. Bands have inspired certain stories either directly or indirectly.

            There are series out there where certain types of music play a significant role in defining the characters. To name one, Jazz is a significant coloring in the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly.

            In my Gold series, rock and metal are significant coloring.

DO YOU NAME DROP BANDS IN YOUR STORY?

            So far, I haven’t mentioned fantasy writing. It’s obvious certain types of music cannot play a role in a made-up world, unless the genre is urban fantasy. In that case, contemporary music is all in.

            With that in mind, and including all other genres of fiction, do you name-drop bands?

            I’ve seen plenty of bands name-dropped into stories, from Aimee Mann to John Coltrane to Dwight Yoakum to GWAR.

            In my Gold series, I drop the names of some of my favorite bands, plus a few not so favorite, mainly for shock value. It’s no secret that the original Alice Cooper Band and Lothar And The Hand People are a significant part of my series. Many of my readers are too young to even know who Lothar is and they only know of Alice Cooper, the solo artist. So be it.

            It’s the same with any author that name-drops bands. Not everyone is going to get it.

            Now, how about fantasy writers?

            Outside of urban fantasy which blends real world, when concerning hard fantasy like my Meleena’s Adventures, nope. Not going to happen. In her world, there are no bands, per se. There are probably groups of musicians, which could be considered bands of a sort. They’d be more like travelling troubadours. So far, I haven’t addressed music all that much in her world. I will eventually, as in the next book, but I can’t reveal much more about it yet.

            The same for science fiction, which all depends on the setting, which may or may not include real-world Earth.

WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOU BOOK BE IF MADE INTO A MOVIE?

            First off, there’s no way you’re going to likely have any influence on the soundtrack, let alone much else if your book is ever made into a movie. Time to get that right out there!

            On the other hand, one can only hope.

            Michael Connelly did it with the Bosch series. If you get big enough, anything can happen. However, for the most of us, we must dream on.

            I can see you already picking the songs.

            For me, with either the Detach or Meleena’s Adventures, I can only hope there’s some rock and roll in either one. In the Gold series, the influence slaps you in the face. As for Meleena’s world, hey, they did rock with A Knights Tale, why not Meleena’s fantasy world?

            Happy writing!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2021 5:24 pm

    Ha! You had me going for a minute there, Fred. “What songs, indeed?” I’d find it difficult to focus on my writing if either the tv or music was playing in the background. Why, then, can I fall asleep with Netflix on? Two different processes, I guess.

  2. January 16, 2021 1:40 pm

    Right now, everyone is asleep as I type this. In a moment, I’m going to be writing my weekly Saturday snippets for each genre page. They’re always spur of the moment. Silence reigns. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be doing the next blog article, also in silence, except for the humming of the computer fan. The next time I get to an MS will likely be either later in the day (with house noises in the other rooms) or maybe Monday, same time, same place. In any case, regardless of the outside environment, it’ll be silence for me, here in the room. No TV in here and like I said, I’m no fan of headphones. Funny, on the weekends, lately, I tend to watch several movies a day lately because the garage is either too cold, too hot to work in, or it’s still to dangerous to go out and do anything else downtown.

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