Do you give your characters theme songs when writing?

I know some writers who listen to music while writing. Some even craft soundtracks like my friend, Jess Cooper. She goes to Pandora’s Box to find music that fits her mood for particular a book she’s writing and builds a soundtrack. Jonathan Maberry notes he ratches it up at a local coffeeshop or bookstore with tunes for the writing of that day. Eric S. Brown swears by Weird Al.

Some writers I know write in complete silence, like Michael Ventrella. I am one of those, but I also find a dark corner alone in Wegman’s cafe provides a low buzz that fills the void around me in a blend perfect for my writing at times.

What I can’t do is write with music on. However, I do search for theme songs for my characters. To feel close to my writing I listen to the songs in the car and right before sitting down to write. And then I shut it off. But I hear the song in my head and it fuels the moment I’m in. I feel the character and their situation from the music and it drives me with passion.

My husband doesn’t like it. Why? Because I fell in love with Country a few years ago. (Gag, he says). But heck, where else can you find fitting angst to inspire words on the page but from Country songs?  Country has it all…lost love, out of work blues, hard times, no-good family and lots of drinking. Need inspiration? Check out the Top 100 Country Songs of All Time.

For my new novel it’s Jake Owen’s Barefoot Blue Jean Night album that sends me colliding with my characters. My protagonist’s theme song is Dierks Bentley’s Love Grows Wild. My husband is glad to not share these private moments. (But just to get him back I sneak in his car and switch all his radio stations to Country ones.)

I’m starting a new novel now and I can’t even listen to the music from my last novel. It confuses me about how I feel for my new characters.

Besides being an author, my next #1 dream is to be a country singer. Got to git me a guitar, harmonica and a fringe skirt. My husband might run off if that happens though. But he’ll sure miss me waving goodbye to him in my cowgirl boots and hat as I line dance across the porch.

Is this a writing quirk that just I have? Do you find theme songs for your book that you don’t actually listen to when writing?

Share with me how music fuels your writing – or doesn’t. Even if you ain’t a country gal.



Filed under Inspirational, Writing Techniques

8 responses to “Do you give your characters theme songs when writing?

  1. First, I also love Country. Sometimes the lyrics make me cringe, but the beat is usually good. I write in silence, at least whenever I can, which is hard to do when you don’t live alone. I can’t concentrate if I’m listening to music; it doesn’t inspire me, although it does motivate me to dance or move around. I don’t listen to much music and rarely incorporate it into my books.

  2. Hi Jenny, thanks for stopping by! Glad to know you’re another “country girl”. 🙂 My husband is sweet and gives me silent time on the weekend to write some times, like today. I cant concentrate either to write when music is on, so I am so fascinated by those who do – what makes their make-up different?

  3. I like country music as well. As far as writing goes, I don’t create theme songs, but I do like to write to music. I have a huge writing playlist I like to refer to, depending on the kind of scene I’m writing.

  4. Yeah its all about giving the characters theme songs. I have a modest imagination, so it’s through the music that my characters really start to come along. And I’m not adversed to a bit of country either.

    • Hi Edward, thanks for stopping by. You are the first I’ve heard who also gives characters theme songs. Thanks for sharing! I agree, music is very powerful and helps to drive the imagination in writing.

  5. Payge Grant

    Of course! Wow, I thought I was the only one! The first things I do when getting to know one of my characters is to give him or her a personalized playlist of theme songs. The characters personality helps me choose songs that best fit them. In fact, I’ve found that music is a necessity in order for me to be productive with my writing.

    • Payge, glad to have found another partner in this! It does help us to know our characters…to associate a feel, a mood for them. When I feel disconnected I play their songs to feel closer to them again and write!

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