Have you ever had a moment when you hear a song and think, "How did that singer know what my character was thinking?"
Or have you ever heard a song lyric that sparked an entire scene, subplot, or entire story idea?
I'm one of those writers that NEEDS music to write a story. Whether each song acts as inspiration, encouragement, or support for what the characters do and why they do it hardly matters. The songs and my scenes are so closely linked - whether by emotion or concept - that I can't remember, for most of them, whether I wrote the scene first, and then added the song, or heard one line of a song that sent me into a writing frenzy.
For me, the work of building a book's playlist is just as slow, thoughtful, and full of heart as the writing itself. I add a bunch of songs, take most away, listening over and over, feeling them out to see what rhythms, lyrics, melodies, and progressions make my heart soar or ache. I add songs and write according to what rings true.
It's not unusual for me to write a scene, song blasting in the background, with tears streaming down my face. Sometimes when I'm completely lacking inspiration, I get in the car and speed down a long stretch of highway (you can do that in Ohio,) soundtrack blasting, and then pull off an exit to pour scenes into my netbook.
The mood of the songs changes according to the part of the book I'm writing. Sunshiney happy love songs may be on endless repeat for weeks while I'm writing first kisses and joyful discoveries, but when the character's Black Moment comes up? You can bet the songs coming out of my computer speakers reflect her fears and, at their core, her determination.
Now that I'm revising ONE, I've fallen in love with its soundtrack, in its entirety, all over again. Here it is: