Friday, August 10, 2012

The Music And The Muse

Every writer I know uses music as part of their creative process, either when they write, edit, develop characters, etc. For me, music plays a central role in the entire process from inspiration to completion. But the type of music I listen to is dependent on where I am in the process of creating the story: my fav tunes for outlining and my fav soundtrack music for writing.

As a music minor in college (I played a viola for 20+ years), I gotten use to music serving as a direct link to my emotions. In writing, the soundtrack music I use helps provide a visceral reaction. It’s like a movie – the dialog is important…but the music MAKES the scene. If you have any doubts on this, try watching a high tension scene without the music. It’s a very different experience. I use music to help set tone, pacing, tension and emotion within the various scenes, substituting words for the emotions I feel listening to the music.

One great example of the importance of music in my writing came while revising one of my manuscripts a few years ago. I had decided to completely change the opening 2 chapters. But, I was having a hard time conceptualizing exactly how I wanted the scene to play out; its rhythm.

That is, until I found the PERFECT piece of music.

This music had the exact cadences I was looking for in the scene. My challenge was to take the music and find words that could do the same thing. I listened to the music over and over for about a week before everything unfolded for me. When I sat to actually write it, I was shocked at the ease with which the storyline wrote itself. Granted, it still needed structural edits, but the content is basically intact.

Since that time, I’ve come to use music as an active part of the writing process, relying on it to put me into the appropriate emotional place prior to setting words on the page. It’s now a never-ending dance between words and music; one I hope my readers enjoy.

How do you use music with your writing or creative process?

Some of my favorite soundtracks or composers to use:

· Anything by Hans Zimmer (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, The Last Samurai)
· Music from almost any epic film works well for my climatic scenes
· Harold Kloser (The Day After Tomorrow)
· Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven)
· Music from creepy scenes in movies is often good for darker moments in my stories…

So, how do you use music in your writing? I would love to hear from you!

~Christine Fonseca, author of acclaimed non-fiction and the popular paranormal Requiem series


  1. Music inspires me as well. I love creating playlists for my novels while I'm writing them. It helps get me in the mood for the book. I'm going to have to check out your favorite soundtracks!

    1. Yea, I can't really work in silence. So I have two kinds of playlists I use: One for writing/editing - all built from soundtrack music. And one for when the book is finished - built from pop music with lyrics that speak to the story. Love it!

  2. I use music as well and will spend many happy hours searching iTunes for just the right songs to suit a particular project. I can work in silence, but the writing tends to be flat (or is that B flat? When I add the extra dimension of tunage - magic happens.

    Viola, eh? That's a beautiful, haunting instrument. Nice!

  3. Music is definitely an important part of my writing process. Sometimes I'll even get an idea for a new project after hearing a new song. Each of my characters has their own soundtrack and a playlist on my iPod. If I've got the music on my family has learned which project I'm working on and whether it's safe to bug me or if they should just slowly back away. Right now, I seem to be on a bit of a "heavier" kick, with Marilyn Manson and Hinder topping my most-listened-to list. I blame it on the darkness of my current WIP :-)