Friday, August 27, 2010

Music to stir the savage beast

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know the original quote is "breast" not "beast" work with me folks ;))

I, like many writers, sometimes write to music. Usually it’s just something classical something I don’t think about that’s just a nice noise to block out everything else.

That is until two years ago.

I have a lovely friend name Julie with a love of trailer music (movie trailers) as well as some groups I’d never heard of before (Nightwish, Within Temptation) that I guess would be medieval metal. Two years ago, a few weeks before my first NaNoWriMo, she gave me some CD’s of trailer music and the other groups. I enjoyed them, thought they may not really be my type, but enjoyable none the less.

Enter NaNo.

For those of you who have never heard of this annual beast of madness, it’s were crazy mad writers decide to crank out 50,000 words in one month. November is the month it all shakes down. (Yes, go sign up now, it's an amazing experince

So here I am trying to consistently crank out pretty dang high word counts in a brand new mss. I mean BRAND new. I had an opening scene, the title, and my main character’s name. I did know it was Space Opera/SF and that in my mind it would have been a great graphic novel. (I STILL think that-LOL)

That was it folks.

Needing inspiration, I put on one of the movie trailer CDs. WOW. Not only was the mostly very fast based music a great type keeper (I found myself typing faster to keep up with it) the music itself is extremely visual. When you’re pulling intense scenes of fights, explosions, and general mayhem out of thin air, it really helps to have music that gets you half way there!

Then I added Nightwish and Within Temptation, also very visual and very stirring. I won’t say they made NaNo easy by any means, but the music helped me get through it and honestly influenced the book a lot. (Thanks Julie! :))

I now find myself using the trailer music particularly to jump start my writing even if I’m not blowing things up-LOL. It makes my own sound track for the sprint writing I often do. (Some great “groups” are Immediate Music; E.S. Posthumous and Corner Stone Cues among others).

I also do have my calmer, introspective, more fantasy sounding music. Richard Searles is wonderful especially Earth Quest (if you have a fantasy writer on your gift list this would be a great CD :)) Loreena Mckennitt (Thanks Chris who got me hooked on her :)) and Enya are good focusing CD’s. And a wonderful more spiritual one is the self titled CD by Anuna.

I can’t forget my steampunk connection either! At a conference last year a wonderful woman named Brenda got me hooked on Abney Park when she heard I was doing a steampunk book. Their CD’s have been crucial to my work on that project.

And it still keeps happening.

Just a few days ago, I was driving up the coast, listening to one of my collections. A full scene popped into my head. A group of people fighting for their lives (sadly- they ain’t gonna win). It was so clear I almost had to pull off the road! Sadly, it’s not for one of my current projects, but for the second book in the Warrior Wench series (The book is called The Victorious Dead and that was before this image popped into my head ;)).

Music is great for stirring the savage beast (our characters and ourselves)- how do you use music? What music do you use? As shown here, I’ve been extremely lucky to have friends turn me onto some wonderful music- maybe your faves can help another writer too!


  1. I save my new age and classic cds for writing. I too use Enya but also Hearts of Space, Bond, Christopher Franke [Tangerine Dream and Babylon 5] and even Yanni.

    I've finally gotten an ipod so now that I've scanned in all the music, it's to pick songs that fit a story and listen to it over an over again.

    Thanks for some new suggestions on artists to check out.

  2. Thanks Marie for all the great suggestions. I can never seem to get it together enough to make a music collection for what I need. If I'm writing a fight scene, also love blowing up things (mainly people), I'll have something fast playing, then the next song will be something slow. Ack! too much work. But I'm going to try your suggestions. Maybe I can find something that works. I'll try anything once...don't tell my husband.

    Boone Brux

  3. Thanks Beth and Boone :). And I'll have to look at some of the ones you listed Beth! LOL- I'm always looking for new music :)