I think songs can work on emotions, either through the melody, the lyrics, or a combination of both. I had heard that authors sometimes have playlists for characters, but it wasn’t something I did at first. To be very honest, I haven’t been hearing a lot of music in the last years of my life, focused on studying, writing, and being a mother. I also used to play in bands and maybe for some reason I turned my back to music when I had to turn my back to playing when I had my son.
I wrote Step Into Magic and to this day, I don’t think I could give any character a song in that novel. The inspirations were from other novels, movies, etc.
But then, as I continued the series Portals to Whyland, when it was time for Kissing Magic, for some reason I thought about Guns N’ Roses’ “You Could be Mine” for Karina. Please don’t laugh at my old music choices. When I was a teenager, I used to say that a sure sign you got old is when you only listen to old music. Well, I got there.
And of course, the lyrics of “You Could Be Mine” don’t really fit the story or character since they talk about drug use and what not, but it was more about the attitude, the fierceness in it. And maybe part the chorus fits:
You Could be Mine
But You’re way Out of Line
Someone is out of line in this novel, and I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read it, although you might be able to guess by the blurb…
Here, I’ll post a video of the song in Brazil, when Axl Rose’s mic failed, just because it’s sort of iconic, and Izzy singing is pretty cool. ? It also relates to characters in the novels in the sense that sometimes they have to step up and do more than they are supposed to. Check it out:
When it was time to write Within Magic, for some reason a song came to mind. It’s Black Label Society’s "Bleed For Me". It’s a very heavy song, but has a wonderful chorus.
The only words that stuck with me were “Bleed For me, I’ve bled for you…” and the heaviness of the song for me gave a sort of desperate love feel. Because people in this novel are in love and yet apart.
Here’s a video of the song, starting right before the chorus.
None of my characters looks like lead singer’s Zackk Wylde unless I wrote about Thor… I mean the god, right, can’t use copyrighted characters. That said, his long beard was an inspiration. I realized that one of the characters, sort of stranded for a long time, wouldn’t have been shaving. Quite an unattractive start. Well, too bad. Sometimes characters have to suffer.
Another song that came to my mind for Within Magic was Stone Temple Pilot’s “Meat Plow”. Another B-side song. The chorus got me inspired:
But I got a lover
And she shows me how
To understand it, yeah to understand
I got a brother and well he shows me how,
To make amends, yeah to make amends with it.
There’s just a certain optimism in it, a playful, happy tone, that I thought was where I wanted to get in some points in the novel.
Here, check some awesome Scott Weilend and his cool scarf. Again I'm posting it right before the chorus.
For Star Spark, there’s a song that has always been with me, which might be my favorite rock song, and it’s just a masterpiece. It’s Faith No More’s "The Real Thing". I guess it’s about something transcendent, and I feel that the main characters in this novel are searching for something within themselves, yet something greater, kind of hard to explain, kind of like "the real thing", whatever it is.
In fact, it may be a running theme in my writing, and it's not because of the song, but the other way around, I identify with it because it's something that interests me. Still, this song would be about Star Spark and both Saytera and Dess, its main characters.
I’m a big fan of live versions, but for some reason I don’t think the band does it justice, so I’ll post the studio version. I can't point to a part of the song, it's a whole trip. Maybe Star Spark is a trippy novel, and that's why it came out so weird. ?
I think sometimes having songs helps me nail a certain tone or feel.
That said, after noticing that songs are helpful, there were a couple instances when I spent a whole day trying to find a song for character X or Y. That’s a great way to procrastinate. Down the Youtube rabbit-hole we go—instead of writing.
I guess these things are unconscious. Spending time listening to a song here at least for me doesn’t really work. I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend too much time looking for songs.
Finally, if someone asks me if I listen to the music while writing, the answer is no, never. Even if I have these songs in mind, I won’t hear them when writing. The reason is that I try to focus on the characters’ emotions on each scene, and any music would pull me on a certain direction. I also don’t like to hear people talking or lyrics while writing. Another very weird reason is that I sort of “listen” to my characters, so there’s never silence in my mind when I’m writing.
So this is some background on my character and novel creation, for readers and writers alike.
What about you? Do you think about songs when reading about characters or creating them?