Make Your Soundtracks For Novels In Progress


I love soundtracks. So, it seems natural that soundtracks for novels would be my thing. Let me tell you about it.

My oldest daughter and I were crashed out on the couch the other night soaking up an extend dose of girl time. We’d picked Pitch Perfect because, well, the singing thing. 

We sing.

In our house.

A lot.

The singing, music, dance party thing is so prevalent that we’ve actually had to set up sing-o-clock.

No singing before 10 a.m.

No singing after 7 p.m.

It’s a protective measure, really. We treasure our neighbours upstairs and downstairs. They must be saved from constant bombardment of the wide range of vocal skills. This, along with musical tastes in our 1,000-square-feet of living space.

Back to the movie:

You know that moment when Jesse and Beca are sitting on the quad and he’s jonzing to give her a movie-cation? He wants to score movies. She needs to get him. They love the same thing, but she’s throwing up big walls. Great moment. My kid and I both love it – because we get the power of music to take a scene from emotional to epic. We totally get Jesse.

So, she turns to me and says, “Mom, you sort of do that too.”

“Do what?”

“Make soundtracks – like the ones you have for your books.”

She’s not wrong.


Soundtracks for Novels – Making Them

I’m not suggesting I am busting out any Hans Zimmer-quality film scores. More like surfing unholy amounts of amazing music. Then, spending a whole lot of time with my Bluetooth headphones glued to my ears. Just trying to make myself feel the necessary level of pain, angst, sadness, lust, fury and/or wonder. 

Making soundtracks for novels in progress isn’t something I invented. I have a whole crew of writer pals who troll each other’s Spotify playlists to jack themselves into a certain mental state. Literary greats like Neil Gaiman use them all the time. Reading novels with a soundtrack in the background is a real thing.

There’s no right or wrong way to make them either. But, here’s how I do it.

I spend six to eight hours a day writing right now. My preferred mode is to not actually have any opportunity to be interrupted by the world during that time. So, headphones are on, music cranked.

I’m not a particularly linear writer, flipping between chapters as characters fill in the blanks for me. Some days I just can’t start where I left off the day before. Each chapter, depending on where I am in a certain character’s arch or the overall story arch, gets a full range of music to go with it that I can switch to without having to hunt songs down.

I used to use YouTube and found that lots of the videos I slotted into playlists got deleted. Tried Soundcloud, not enough easily accessed content for me. So, I ended up over at Spotify (click the link and you can see what I’m listening to right now).

If you go into my playlists, you’ll see that I break all of that noisy creative juice down into chapters.

I admit I’m a bit of a junkie when it comes to music whether I’m writing or not. Right now I’ve got a serious jonze for FKA twigsBanksdvsn Bishop Briggs, and SG Lewis.  They get mixed in for satisfying mental breaks or because, well, they get me all the way to where I need to be.

Jesse from Pitch Perfect wasn’t wrong when he said soundtracks “bring people to tears, blow their minds,” – even if you are just blowing your own mind with your own soundtrack writing that novel.

Now go make some music mashups and get writing!