Wednesday, November 17, 2010

writing playlist

The most important thing about writing a book is, of course, to write the book. That is: to write. That is: butt-in-chair-fingers-on-keys.*

But it doesn't hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve to convince you to get said butt and said fingers doing their thing when you're sure it'd be easier to climb Kilamanjero than to get your heroine to the end of her scene. And one of the tricks I've come up with is making myself a playlist on iTunes for each book.

I put in songs that put me in the same mood I hope the book evokes in my readers. So I have a very different soundtrack for, say, my historical romance and my sci-fi adventure. 

I think it works because art feeds on art, and all of it is a long, long conversation. Listening to music prior to composing story is like eavesdropping for a second or two before you "hem, hem!" in your throat to let your friends know you've arrived at the party. It reminds you about what's going on with this circle of people and puts you in the mindset to discuss their fascinations with them.

So here's the current playlist for my historical romance (which has a strong theological theme running through it - hence the hymns):

-Arise My Love - Michael Card

-Ave Maria - Josh Groban

-Dela - Johnny Clegg and Savuka

-Do You Dream of Me - Michael W. Smith

-Hope to Carry On - Caedmon's Call

-How Firm a Foundation - Fernando Ortega

-I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers

-In Christ Alone - The Newsboys

-La Pared - Shakira

-Over the Hills and Far Away - John Tams/Dominic Muldowney

-Rogue's March - John Tams/Dominic Muldowney

-Springtime Indiana - Sandra McCracken

-That Where I Am, There You May Also Be - Rich Mullins

-There Is Power in the Blood - Fernando Ortega

-Thy Mercy - Caedmon's Call

-Walk in the Dark - Wayne Watson

-When She's Near - Fiction Family

Of course, not every song works for every scene! "La Pared" is great for the scene when my heroine is afraid the hero has been killed by French soldiers and is facing a life alone without him.  "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" for when we switch to the hero's point-of-view and he's fighting his way back to her. You don't want to confuse the mood of those two scenes. :)

But all in all, I'm really happy with the playlist. And tweaking it helps me tweak what I'm going for in the story. And listening the songs helps me remember what I'm aiming for as I write. 

I use different playlists for stuff like housecleaning and exercising too. Anyone else view iTunes** not just as a toy, but as a tool? And what do you use it for?

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

*I finished another chapter today: joy for me! but sadness for my heroine. Poor girl. I swear I will give her a happy ending, but I don't think she'd believe me just now.

**Or other mp3-playing device. My husband would faint if he thought I thought iTunes was the only thing out there.


Amy said...

Wow! My 18 y.o. budding writer does the same thing!

Any words of advice to a budding writer who finds college using all her writing time? Essays just don't do it and she is worried college will kill in her what she loves most...

MomCO3 said...

I can't wait to read this book!
And thanks for the link... now if I could only find the elastic...

Jessica said...

Hi Amy - I think what I'd tell your daughter is that she has to make time for it outside of schoolwork, just like she'd make time if she were, say, an amateur car-rebuilder or gymnast or marathoner.

The neat thing is that schoolwork can definitely make your writing better. Those essays, if she applies herself to them, can teach her how to be clear and succinct. So I'd encourage her to let them feed her passion instead of killing it; anything she learns at school can be food for writing. The writing skills in an obvious way, and all the content areas because they'll inform her worldview and give her more information about the world that can then fit into her stories.

But probably the key is to view her school writing and her fiction writing as two totally different animals. The schoolwork is her day job; once she's paid the bills, so to speak, then she can turn to her passion, to writing, and try to get good enough to turn that INTO her day job. :) Calling it a "hobby" isn't quite right, because it's more than that, but she has to make room for it like she'd make room for a hobby.

Okay, there's my ramblings on the subject. I hope some or any of that helps!

Jessica said...

Annie, thank you so much. I look forward to sending it to you. You don't know how much a comment like that encourages me to keep going!

Speaking of going on . . . did the mystery novel ever undergo its change? and if so, may I read? And how's the YA?