Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WIP Playlists And Why They Rule

So. I love music. Some genres more than others, but overall, I'm an equal opportunity music listener. My poor iPod is filled with songs by artists who would NEVER duet in real life. 

*cough Marilyn Manson and Taylor Swift cough* 

Before I start drafting, I love to put together a playlist for the project. Sometimes I create two playlists--one for the main character, and another for the MC's relationship with the love interest. 

Why, yes, I do have way too much time on my hands...

Seriously, though, I think writers should be open to music when drafting. To me, a playlist is useful for three reasons:

1) Songs that help with character development/voice

These are the easiest ones to pick for me. They're usually songs that deal with what my MC faces in the story, or is about to face. Either way, they give me an idea of how my MC would react or feel in certain situations, and I write accordingly. Out of all the songs I pick, these get the most plays.

2) Songs that help with plot

This is where I usually feel like I'm cheating. Songs are stories, after all. There's an outcome the singer is either happy or sad about, right? Well, whenever I get stuck with my plot, I sit back and listen. The lyrics make me come up with brand new scenes, goals, obstacles, and resolutions. They don't have to be exactly what the lyrics refer to, but a good chunk stems from them.

3) Songs that help with mood

Battle sequences = Metal. A huge breakup = Ballads. Party scenes = Dance/Pop/Hip Hop. I think atmosphere for the writer translates into atmosphere for the story. Of course, there are writers who can whip out these scenes without music, and they come up with sheer brilliance. Me? Not so much. *hangs head in shame*

So. There you have it. Playlists save fake people's lives.

Tell me: do you create playlists for your WIPs? Any specific kind of music you keep gravitating toward?


  1. I also soundtrack WiPs (uh...even when they're done, I find more songs, so that's helpful, lol), but most of mine are mood/related to plot.

    What's weird is how I'll write a scene, and then hear the perfect song for it, so I...tend to go about this arse about face.

  2. Yes! But not all the time. I find instrumental music helps me the most b/c the lyrics don't distract me from my own prose and emotion can be conveyed really well by, say, a violin or a clarinet. :) Music is definitely a powerful aid for writing. I love the way you've got it broken down into which music helps you with which type of writing. Very insightful!

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  4. When I'm writing, I listen to instrumental soundtracks. Songs are too distracting for me. But if I'm in the car and am mulling over a scene, I might listen to some mood enhancing songs.

    I do love the idea of creating a playlist for a character or even a season I'm writing about. I'll give that some thought.

  5. I don't really do this but if creating playlists help your writing - then why not?!?! It's all about stimulating the senses to get all the creative juices flowing! Yay!

    Take care

  6. I do love playlists, but rarely spend a ton of time on them, LOL! My standby's are Pandora and movie soundtracks. ;)

  7. You know, when I started writing I didn't. But the more I find that music fills the mood, the more I am using playlists. It's so fun. =)