Writers Wisdom 101: Self Made Soundtrack

Happy Friday! 

You all are here because writing is something near and dear to your heart, but today we’re talking about another love of mine– music!

Join me as I welcome my guest author to tell all about the benefits of writing soundtracks!

Self-Made Soundtrack

Rebecca Linam - The War on State Street, Alex the Great

Most writers dream of seeing their novels turned into a movie, complete with special effects, top-notch actors, and an official soundtrack.  I’m no different. I often visualize scenes as if I were watching a movie of my storyline to help transition from one scene to the next. My novel may never make it to the big screen, but it does have its own soundtrack.  I made it myself.

“What good is a soundtrack if you have no movie?” you may be asking.  Below are several reasons why making a soundtrack for my novel have helped me in the writing process. 


Sometimes jumping from the real world of fluctuating gasoline prices and politics into a fantasy world (or whatever world your story takes place in) isn’t so easy.  The million thoughts running through your head about your job or daily worries won’t go away. Listening to music that reminds you of your novel’s setting help to put you in the right mindset by blocking off daily distractions.  For me, these are usually background songs that don’t relate to any specific character but only to the mood and setting of my story.

This is one of my weak points.  I often have a list of characters and know exactly how they will act, but I have trouble describing their personalities on paper.  Whenever I hear a song that reminds me of my characters, I sequester it for the section of my soundtrack dedicated only to that character.  When I’m having trouble developing that character, listening to the songs helps me to visualize his actions and personality, which then makes writing about him easier, as if he were a real person.  I find myself asking, “What would Lucasse do?” and knowing exactly how he would react.

My commute has a lot of drive time.  I often plan out scenes and develop dialogue while I’m driving by using songs related to certain parts from my novel.  The good thing is that it’s hands-free and makes me feel like I’m not wasting my time.

We all get stuck at some point or other.  Sometimes talking it out with someone else works for me, but when no one’s around, I turn to my book’s official soundtrack.  While listening to the songs on it, I make my way through the novel up until the point where I’m at a roadblock. Often, an idea will occur to me.  Other times I get other great ideas for later on in the novel that eventually lead to helping the original writers’ block.

It makes your novel just as interactive as any movie’s official soundtrack.  I always list the soundtracks of my published novels so that visitors to my website can have more goodies to enhance their reading experience.  You can add tidbits such as, “This is the song that plays when the battle for Tarnica Castle is fought” to make scenes more realistic. I list songs with a link to the song on Youtube so that readers can listen in, almost like a playlist.  In the case that I can’t find the song on Youtube, I list as much information as possible. Routinely, links get broken; it’s always a good idea to check them periodically. How you list the songs is up to you. Sometimes I list them in chronological order of my novel’s plot, but other times it’s better to group them by characters, i.e. “These songs all relate to Clementine.”  That is up to you.

To make it official, burn it to a CD and decorate the cover either with your own artwork or clipart from online—or get one of your artsy friends to draw some of your characters.  Be creative with the fonts for listing the songs on the back.

As an added bonus, in the case that your novel does end up as a Hollywood blockbuster film, you have a head start on the soundtrack!  

What do you think? Do you listen to music while you work? What would go on the soundtrack for your current WIP? Comment below with your answer!

About our Guest

Rebecca Linam is the author of four novels for young adults and children.  Her stories have been published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, The Caterpillar, and Clubhouse Magazine, among others.  For more visit her website at www.rebeccalinam.com or find her on Twitter @rebecca_linam. 

JM Sullivan

Retelling Writer. Sparkle Enthusiast. Author. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect with J.M., visit her on social media at @jmsullivanbooks--she’d love to hear from you!

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