Seeing Sound

Hello!  Just a quick note…I’ll be on holiday next week (yippee!) so there will not be a blog post on August 9, but I’ll be back on the 16th!


So today’s post came to me while I was listening to Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling. As a violinist, I find her talent just mind-boggling. How can she play at such an elite level…and dance at the same time, like a court fiddler of olde? Crazy.

Anyway, music’s a big part of my life (I’ve written about this several times before) but I want to take a different track today: Visualization.  For me, music isn’t just something in the background to soothe my muse while I write. It’s a scene setter. A character developer. A plot outliner.  I do some of my best “writing” in the car. Why? Because when it’s just me and my stereo, humming down the highway, I can “see” scenes better that way than when I’m faced with a blank page. I frequently write in my head before it spills into the manuscript. A kind of weird way to do it, I guess, but I often see the story as a movie, then scramble to put it on paper.

Music is often the catalyst for those scenes. I have a vague idea of what I need, but a certain song(s) (lately it’s New Divide by Linkin Park, Brave by Sara Bareilles and Kill Your Heroes by AWOLNTION) can launch a train of thought that allows me to develop an entire plot point in the time it takes me to drive from home to work.  What I normally do then is listen to that song at least once during the day (usually at lunch, so I can jot down a note or two), then again on the way home, nailing down parts of the scene that were fuzzy. Then that evening, after dinner and family time, I crank up the iPod one more time and madly type the pictures in my head.

For that reason, music is intrinsically linked with writing for me–words/melody/lyric. My muse probably tormented a conductor in a former life…that’s the only thing that makes sense. If I’m working on an emotionally charged scene, I need emotionally charged tunes. Last week when I talked about killing a character? I listened to Skyfall by Adele while writing that scene. It came in the middle of this multi-chapter fight scene, so I was switching between Linkin Park and Evanescence for this mournful, melancholy song and back again. Small wonder I was in a state for a few days. But that was the only way I could switch from “badass” to “heartbroken” in the middle.

Anybody else live and breathe with a soundtrack in your head? Writers…music in the background, or absolutely silence?

Have a great couple of weeks! I’ll see you on the flip side, hopefully tan and relaxed (and having slammed a ton of words on the page). Until then!

2 thoughts on “Seeing Sound

  1. Becca Andre

    Girl, we are SO much alike. That’s exactly the way it works for me. Music brings the scene to life and I can see it unfolding in my head. I get it all: character interactions, dialogue, setting. I really struggle when I have to write a scene that I haven’t envisioned this way.

    Lately, I’ve been fighting with a certain story. The other day, I decided to listen to something different and bam! The final scene unfolded without effort. Guess I had the wrong song on my story soundtrack. 😛

    Enjoy your vacation!

  2. Kelly

    I’m the same as you. Every time I try to write something I have to listen to a song first. My best work comes to me in the car or just relaxing to some music. I think there are a lot of writers out there like us.


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