Stories are in the Music
Life is full of stories. From our novels to newspapers, to magazine articles and the back of a bottle of wine, and over to music lyrics and poetry - stories are everywhere, in so many forms.
As a middle grade and young adult novel-writer, I didn’t initially expect to apply a playlist to my writing routine. The more I became embroiled in the plots of my books-in-progress, however, the more I saw and heard my story all around me. I learned that music was a great way to bolster my book-writing process and listen for my characters in other ways than I expected.
I became a person who keeps playlists.
So much like I have playlists for running or sad days or summer vacations, I structured playlists for each book. They usually started with just one or two songs as I worked on building up my idea and starting that first draft. By the time I was editing, I typically had a full list established. I don’t typically listen to music as I’m writing. Which isn’t to say the playlists haven’t been helpful. Because even if I don't listen to the playlist as I am editing, I listen in the car or out walking and I can feel the story unfolding and hear my characters in the ways that I needed to know them for later. It keeps me in the mood of the book, in that same place I need to be as the writer.
The playlist is that world in that book, so when I hear it, I’m instantly taken there. If I need to switch gears, I can change the station or the playlist and easily slip from world to world.
Songs evoke nostalgia, feeling, attachment, emotion. Just like each book or chapter we pen.
Part of the joy of playlists is that when the songs come on randomly, I smile as I’m taken back to some world-building I wrote years ago or maybe just months ago. It’s like hearing from old friends.