Music For a New Novel


My second novel began with a single sentence that popped into my head while I was at work.  I hardly know what is real.  I wrote it down and it lead to a notebook filled with an outline, pictures, and sketches, (I will be posting something about my new notebook . . . stay tuned!).  The story materialized in my imagination with such a vibrant presence, it’s as if it was there all along. While an exciting prospect, it’s also overwhelming as the scope of the story is larger than anything I’ve ever been inspired to write.  However, much like Noah haunted me, (See One Photograph Changed Everything), so are two new main characters: Amanda and Ian.  This is a story I must tell, even though the subject matter will require a lot of research.  From what I know of them so far, I think my history degree is going to come in handy!

While writing my first novel, I discovered music can be a powerful element in piecing together a story, (See How Music Help Me Write a Novel).  As I embark on writing my second novel, I am in the midst of creating a brand new playlist that is already giving my main characters more depth and providing loads of inspiration as I work out the storyline.  It’s amazing how one creative avenue lends a hand to another!

When creating a new playlist, I search through my music library to find tracks that will fit characters, shape the story line, and  create an overall tone or ambience for the novel as a whole.  This story is very different from anything I’ve worked on as it carries a deep message, but also has an air of whimsy and fantasy.  Picking out music to fit this odd combination has been nothing short of an odyssey, but I think I’ve finally got a playlist that will take me to the last line.

Story Soundtrack:

Sorry, but the story line is classified information!  Perhaps, this section of the playlist list will pique some curiosity!

From Delerium’s album, Karma

  • Enchanted
  • Twilight
  • Silence
  • Forgotten Worlds
  • Euphoria (Firefly)

From Mysteria’s album, Tempting the Muse

  • Elixir for Sunsets
  • Lift
  • The Loveliest Sin
  • Star Gazer

Time Is Running Out – Muse

Angels – Owl City

Vanilla Twilight -Owl City

At First Sight – Yanni

Rites of Passage – Yanni

On Sacred Ground – Yanni

Midnight Hymn – Yanni

Teardrop – Massive Attack

– – –

Amanda’s Music:

Amanda doesn’t just march to the beat of a different drum, she creates an entirely new beat in her head.  She is a staunch individualist, but finds herself stuck in a situation she can’t escape without a little help.  Indie rock and the revolutionary music of The Beatles truly capture her vibe.

The Beatles – every album, but Yellow Submarine in particular

Death Cab for Cutie’s albums, The Open Door EP, Plans, Transatlanticism, Narrow Stairs

The Morning Benders’ album, Talking Through Tin Cans

Junip’s album, Fields

Freelance Whales’ album, Weathervanes

– – –

Ian’s Music:

Ian is tricky!  I’m still working on him as he is an interesting character that continues to reveal his secrets in small doses.  He isn’t what he seems at first glance and he often resists my attempts to root him out.

Falling Away With You – Muse

Butterflies & Hurricanes – Muse

Lamentation – Delerium

Wisdom – Delerium

Tempting the Muse – Mysteria

– – –

Ian & Amanda’s Soundtrack:

Another work in progress.  These two are a very secretive couple and they only tell me so much at a time.  At the moment Ian is doing most of the talking and I’m waiting for Amanda to jump in and tell her side, (any day now, sweetie.  I’m listening).

Starlight – Muse

Endlessly – Muse

– – –

Tone & Ambience:

Owl City’s albums, All Things Bright and Beautiful and Ocean Eyes

Remembrance – Delerium

Closer to Heaven -Myseria

Awake Inside A Dream – Mysteria

Written on the Wind – Yanni

Nightingale – Yanni

Adiemus – Adiemus

Return to Innocence – Enigma

– – –

Well, I’ve either got a great soundtrack that will serve as an endless source of inspiration or I’ve done nothing more than prove I have one strange collection of music!  Either way, my muse has plenty of juice and I hope she helps me write what I think will be an interesting piece of work.

c.b. 2011


40 thoughts on “Music For a New Novel

  1. I believe whole-heartedly in creating soundtracks for novels and characters. Every time I lose my way, I listen and am guided back. Great ideas and interesting selection. You have piqued my interest. 🙂


    • There’s nothing like music to get you in the mood to write. 🙂 The melodies and lyrics instantly pull me into the world I’m creating.

      It is an odd collection and I’m a little surprised by some of the tracks that made it onto the list. However, every time I listen to it, the playlist works perfectly. I feel my characters and I know their story. Who would have thought Yanni and Muse would be on the same playlist!? 😉


  2. Leila

    I have a writing soundtrack that helps me connect to the Muse. It’s a weird collection of artists (Crash Kings, Cage the Elephant, Owl City, Paramore, Coldplay, to name a few. Music helps me focus and gives me a buffer from things outside my writing space. Sometimes, the music is specific to the story, most of the time it helps me move along.


    • I like your list! 🙂

      I write in public a lot, so music really helps filter out the background noise and like you, it keeps me focused. I have playlists set up strictly for mood that I’ll listen to depending on what kind of piece I’m writing. For novels and short stories, they get their own list.


    • I am a multi-tasker to the core. I’m working on the new novel, getting the first novel to the next level, and a bunch of other little projects. The muse is busy and its lucky I’m an insomniac. 🙂


    • Most of my stories comes out of nowhere. I’ll be puttering along at work or driving somewhere when a line or a face pops into my mind. That’s why I always have a notebook or my cell phone handy to record random thoughts.

      Putting music to the idea literally makes it explode in my imagination! I can’t wait to see where this little adventure leads. 🙂


  3. I do exactly the same thing. Exactly. The Spiritkeeper started with a single sentence. And it has its own soundtrack (I was just listening to it again this morning), cobbled together from works by composer John Adams. It was amazing how well it fit…David Emory’s theme is strong and gentle and noble all at the same time–and it sounds like him at the loom, the same rhythms. I swear, woman, I think all too often that we are the same person!


    • Two peas in a pod. 🙂

      I still listen to old soundtracks from previous works, too. They’ve evolved into a whole kind of inspiration in that they motivate the notion of “if I did it once, I can do it again.” 🙂


  4. The Beatles and Yanni are the only names familiar to me. I think I need to expand my music knowledge. I just tend to listen to oldies all the time. That’s my music.
    I can’t wait to see your notebook.


    • Forward I go! 🙂

      Whenever someone asks me what kind of music I listen to, my standard answer is “the good kind.” I listen to just about anything because you never know where inspiration is hiding. I swear every character I’ll ever write is hiding somewhere in my iPod.

      I wonder how music would influence your painting? 🙂


  5. Cindy Archer Photography

    Not only do I love your choice and taste in music but I have to add that I too am inspired by music! Especially when I’m writing or editing. It often sets the mood for how I feel and how my images turn out.


  6. Susanne

    Not sure of all the music but all the titles sound wondeful! Good luck with this and may you enjoy the sweet sounds of your writing journey.


    • Most of it isn’t mainstream and honestly, much of Amanda’s music is new to me thanks to some good friends of mine. I put links on the bands that have samples listed on amazon, which makes it possible to get a sense of their music. 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes. 🙂


  7. I have never created a soundtrack to use when writing, although I have often noticed that certain music can set the tone when I’m working on a particular story. You’re full of great ideas C.B. Thanks for sharing them. 🙂


    • Lucky you! I would love to see Muse in concert. They are an awesome band! 🙂

      There are times when music is no help at all, but on larger projects like novels its an absolute must for me. I can be easily distracted and the music keeps me focused.


  8. I’m so excited to hear about the new novel! Your characters and their music sound very intriguing – looking forward to hearing more. 🙂 I love using music to help write the story, and it’s great when the songs come up on the radio while I’m driving or cooking. It always makes me smile, and gets me eager to return to the manuscipt.
    Happy writing! 🙂


    • I love how my muse thinks I can handle so many things at once. Lol! In the middle of writing query letters and a synopsis, not to mention polishing my final draft, she thinks I can squeeze in a second novel. Thank goodness I’m an insomniac! 😉

      Isn’t it fun when you hear a song that triggers a new plot development or tells you something new about a character – I live for those moments. As a matter of fact, it just happened this morning!

      Happy writing to you, too! 🙂


  9. I love this idea, and the way you draw inspiration for your stories. I know that feeling of having a story burning in one’s mind, sparked perhaps by a single sentence or idea or piece of music! (In my case, often in my dreams.)


    • Inspiration is everywhere! Most of the time I have to shut my brain off so I can focus on one idea (or three) at a time. 🙂

      I’ve often heard dreams are a great source of inspiration for so many writers. Those who can remember their dreams are so lucky. I wake up and have no recollection at all. I’m often curious of what my imagination does when I’m not looking. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!


  10. This is an interesting approach to writing, an interesting side to you. A kind of synaesthetic approach to the development of characters.

    I wonder, does the choice of music have any further effect? To the dynamics and rhythms of a certain piece govern in any way the speech patterns, images, and rhythms of your characters? Do they influence your word choices, your descriptive passages, etc.?

    I have to say that I usually write in absolute silence (or as near as I can get). Only occasionally is my work accompanied by music. One notable exception has been my recent ‘alone’; I was listening to Geral Finzi’s Romance in E Flat at the time.



    • The music doesn’t dictate what I write. Instead, it puts me in the mindset I need to create a certain character or write a particular scene. My playlist is organized much like I have it listed here so I can select a category that best fits the day’s writing goals. I like to think of the music as my guide rather than a conductor. 🙂

      Thanks for the link and a beautiful piece of music.


  11. I used music last week to get me “unstuck” with my revision. My main character is a man named Jake and I was having trouble connecting with his deep loneliness and fear of abandonment. Suddenly Adele’s Turning Tables started running through my mind and before I knew it I had written 16 pages! Love when that happens 🙂


  12. Not sure about music to write by for myself. I prefer staring out the window at the weather. I do find though, that lines will appear, and the poetry will follow on. I have notebooks of one line poems to finish, and when I get stuck, float through and see what takes my fancy.



    • I always seem to write more when its raining. There’s something about the sound of rain patter that makes the words flow. When I write poetry, I’m a lot like you . . . random lines show up in my journal and I work on them when they catch my fancy. 🙂


  13. Hey, can’t wait to see how your novel turns out. Because of this post and a burning desire to do so, I’m going to start working on a novel using this technique. Well I already had one in mind, I’ve actually been dreaming the book this whole week. But now I’m going to officially start writing it. Can’t wait to see where this goes.


    • How exciting! I hope the power of music brings closer to writing your novel. Once a story starts invading your dreams, you know its time to start writing it! Good luck! 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading! 🙂


    • I’m in awe of writers who can write in total silence. I’ve tried it and my brain goes absolutely haywire – I hear everything around me and notice everything around me. Music stops that from happening.

      On my run this evening, I work out a major plot point! Yay!


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