When I started “seriously” writing (in high school, no less), I started listening to music as I wrote. There wasn’t a lot of variety in the beginning. A friend burned a few soundtracks – for the first Harry Potter film and the first two LOTR films – for a group of us, so I mainly relied on those. I slowly branched out, incorporating a lot of the Celtic music to which I’d grown up listening. I even managed to supplement my parents’ collection with some additions of my own discovery. I listen to Celtic music less frequently now; it mostly makes auditory appearances while I’m reading or driving. Soundtracks have become my primary “mood music” for writing. I tend to select music based on the mood I’m trying to capture in my prose, though sometimes I make selections based on how much time I plan to write or which iTunes playlist piques my interest that day. Today, I’ll introduce my favorites.
Dredd: First of all, did you see this movie? It was awesome. And it’s on Netflix Instant Watch (surviving the January 1st purge). I listen to this and I think of grit, tension, and dreamy fantasy. Which, oddly enough, describes a lot of what I end up writing.
Game of Thrones: No surprise here, since I wuv ASOIAF/GOT. The soundtracks for the first three seasons embody a range of characters and settings, and I find myself inspired to delve deeper into motivations and conflict, and perhaps invert/subvert a few tropes while I’m at it. Yeah, they’re pretty effective soundtracks.
Gladiator: I call this my “revenge pick.” It’s great for philosophical or weighty dialogue, and I’m surprised that my scenes don’t end up being a lot of “and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next” or fields of wheat moments.
Harry Potter “Variety Hour”: I have the soundtracks for each movie, as well as the Prague Orchestra renditions. I could write all day and not make it through this playlist. There’s whimsy and wildness, though I do have to be careful that when I press shuffle I don’t end up hearing Hedwig’s Theme or Harry’s Wondrous World on repeat (yes, it happens).
LOTR: This is basically a nostalgia listen. Sometimes I beat myself up a little too much, and have little confidence in what I am producing. It’s a nice reminder that when I started writing, I did it for fun and to tell a compelling story. I didn’t know a lot then, I know a lot more now, and either way it’s something I love doing.
Pacific Rim: A recent addition, it’s lately been my Dredd substitute so I don’t burn out. It checks similar boxes (grit and tension), but it falls less on the fantasy side.
The Hunger Games: I have both films’ soundtracks in this playlist. When I listen, I hear hope, solitude, love, and disparity. There’s a nice contrast there, and I do love channeling those elements into my writing.
What would be on your bucket list? Why?