Writing Music…

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you probable know that I love music. I need music like I need to breathe (I’m listening to it right now – “Tonight we Ride” by Unleash the Archers – check them out here).

I work best to music. I write to music. If, for some reason, I can’t play it out loud, my thoughts will tune into my own internal radio station and I’ll listen to it there. It is high up on my personal “To Do” list to be able to play it myself one day.

I love music.

What I haven’t fallen in to is creating playlists for projects. I know some folks that do that, and it works great for them. They’ll even post their spotify playlists – which I think is a great idea.

On my current project – which I’ve titled “Queen’s Will,” I was surprised to find that one of my characters had music.

Only once before have I ever associated a piece of music with one of my characters. For those of you that haven’t heard the story, that character was Anette, who appeared in my story “The Price of Power” in the “Trials” anthology.

Here’s a snippet from when Anette makes her appearance:

“Nice to meet you, Elise.

“My head snapped up. Anette stood between the fence and the platform, surrounded by spawn. She wore a black coat that hung down to her knees. Faded jeans were tucked into heavy boots. Her hair was long and black and streaked with crimson. What skin I could see was flawless. Her eyes were hazel, maybe a little sunken, like she was tired.

She looked…pretty, like a lost piece of something beautiful there in the filth, her hands in the pockets of her coat.

Anette’s song is “Road of No Release” by Blind Guardian. Here’s how the song opens:

“Please sister, wake me up. You’ve traveled far – release my mind – sing this song of mine.”

I wrote this entire story to Blind Guardian. Not just the release that had “Road” on it, but their entire discography. But it wasn’t until I started on Anette’s character that the song stuck.

I was so surprised, I emailed my writing group later that day: “Look what happened!!”

Since then, I’ve become sensitive to the potential for music to attach itself to characters. While I’m up for new ways to do things, I’m pretty slow to adopt them – I’m pretty set in my ways, but when a song, or album attaches itself to a character, I’m in without any reservation whatsoever. And when I say “I’m in,” I’m *all* in. I’ll listen to that song, or songs, on repeat while I’m writing that character.

You’d think that (and it was certainly a concern of mine) I’d get tired of the same thing, playing over and over but, for me, it doesn’t. Even better, I’ve found that there were unexpected benefits.

The first is that I drop into The Zone much quicker. Like it does for damn near everything else, music greases the wheels to the point where I’m only barely aware of the music playing. It’s just me and that character.

The second benefit comes when I’m “Not” writing. I use quotes here because I’m really never *not* writing. My brain makes sure of that. When a song that has attached itself to a character comes up in the rotation while I’m doing other things, it transports me back to that character – even if that character is in a finished work. When that happens, it gives me some extra, unplanned-for, head-time with those characters and their stories. This has, more than once, helped me to solve problems that I’d been struggling with and, even better, has sparked new ideas.

Now I know that some of you out there can’t write and listen to music, and I’m not saying that you should make an already difficult process harder on yourself – nobody needs more work.

What I am suggesting is that you open yourself up to the idea – you might be surprised.

See you on Thursday!


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Weird Wild West


Chasing the Light