Writing “Blood Ties” Part 6: The Music

So far I’ve written a little about the fruits of the creative process, but have kind of skirted talking about the actual writing. The hardest thing for me isn’t finding the time directly, it’s disciplining myself to use the time I have. Artificial deadlines don’t generally cut it for me; I need something more positively motivating. I tried the whole I’ll-write-for-45 minutes-then–play-15 minutes-of-GAME reward trick and spent 4 hours getting just one more level. I tried having people “support” (read: bug) me, but those always ended up as sessions in philosophy. In the end, the answer boiled down to straight music. Just put on my headphones, find something that matched the mood for the piece I was writing, then go to town. I’d say the results were pretty good, but they led me to an interesting discovery: books go better with music.

I totally used to jam to a tape of radio mixed music while reading Robert Jordan as a kid, but I never realized just how much it enhanced the mood until I reread certain parts of my book and found it less rewarding to read than it had been to write. Plug in the right music, though, and the thrill bounced back to its original high. Tempting as it is to insert some kind of metaphor involving drugs and that first high, I won’t bother; it doesn’t really wash, you know? Instead, think of it as watching your favorite movie but with the sound off. It’s fun to see and you completely enjoy it because you know what’s happening, but when you put the sound back on, it really pops. That’s what writing with music is like to me: good without, sometimes necessary, but oh so awesome when it’s included.

It can’t just be any music either, by the way. I use specific pieces of music for specific scenes. For example, the original prologue was told from a completely different side originally and detailed the final battle between the two cultures in this eight year war. For the scene, I have The Final Fight from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as my background music. I can see the entire (compressed) battle in my mind from start to finished. Certain scenes match up with certain movements. Sadly, however, it just didn’t serve to set things up for the remainder of the book like we wanted it to, so we changed the scene to show the same battle but from a totally different viewpoint. I miss the scene…it was a really great battle…but we’ll work it into the next book. Do I always use scores? Nope, Chapter the Eighth has several songs attached in my mind, all of which are lyrical. Linkin Park’s “In the End” was pretty heavy there. I used their “Nobody’s Listening” elsewhere too, come to think of it.

I could go through and give my entire song list, but that would take way too much time. Besides, discover them on your own; it works better that way. Next time I’ll discuss schedules, delays, and successes.

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