Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Music to Write By

A lot of writers listen to music while they work. We all have different tastes and choices from which we gain inspiration. I once read that Stephen King listens to, among other stuff, Guns N’ Roses—the image of his psychopaths nailed to an audio backdrop of Axl Rose’s screaming thunder fits so well. (I’m a BIG GN’R fan, by the way.) Stephenie Meyer listened to other rockers while she toiled on the Twilight series. A lot of us also wish we had the ability to include the music with the book; music makes a big difference in the way a movie is perceived. Think of Jaws with that menacing undertone that means the shark is coming. Writers have a movie going too, in their mind’s eye.

I have a quirk—I can’t listen to any music with singing or lyrics when I’m writing. The repertoire I favor tends to run to instrumental soundtracks, piano solos like George Winston’s work, and those themed CDs you can buy from displays in Target and other places that let you listen to a sample.

Right now, I’m listening to the soundtrack for The Cider House Rules by Rachel Portman. I admit I didn’t like the movie. But the music is much better, wistful and yearning, perfect for illustrating what I’m writing: late summer blue skies hanging over miles and miles of pastoral fields. The movie camera in my mind’s eye pulls up and back to a high overhead shot of a woman waiting for the approach of a distant figure she hopes is the man she loves and has believed to be lost. The tall, yellow grass bends in the breeze and brushes against her skirt. The sweeping violins swell as her long, dark curls are pushed away from her shoulders. Sigh . . .

Other good scores that work for me are The Shawshank Redemption, Titanic—especially while I was writing The Irish Bride—and Lonesome Dove, The Last of the Mohicans and Dances With Wolves for a lot of my westerns.

When I wrote the love scenes for some of my books, I played CDs of recorded thunder and rain without music. The characters didn’t need it. They were the music, and nature gave them the elements.

Oops, I need to restart the CD. Back to work.

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