Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Music to Write Your Character To

Yes the topic is sort of some kind of reference to the infamous Motley Crue album.

Anyway, I would like to share with you all the things that I listen to, generally, that either inspire me or at least encourages me to write things.

Usually, and this might be obvious considering my source, I prefer the instrumental tracks (words seem to distract me!) and such, and my number-one go-to source for that is the MechWarrior 2 soundtrack. I find it inspiring, calming at times, and with the emphasis on various Native American tribal thematics - e.g. Clan Wolf, Clan Jade Falcon - I believe it has a nice sort of feel and vibe to the animal-side or such.

Another thing I often listen to while writing is the soundtrack from the games Doom and Doom II. The way they are designed mostly to loop around seems to have a positive effect on me when I am writing and working. Also sometimes I throw in various tracks from Command & Conquer, to help flesh out a nice long playlist for a good long writing session.

I hope this inspires some people, I know when I listen to the MechWarrior 2 soundtrack, I feel much strong pull, perhaps nostalgia, of the big Mechs and such. It makes it more conducive to writing about my big Mechs in the same theme.

So how about you? Do you have certain songs that bring or encourage specific types of writing?

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I’m easily distracted!

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I’ve found that music with lyrics tends to distract me. This isn’t universally true, but it’s true often enough that I tend to switch to instrumental jazz when I’m really into writing, and jazz that doesn’t call attention to itself at that. (While I’d rather listen to Miles Davis if I’m listening for its own sake, The Rippingtons are better if I don’t want to get lost in the music.)

For brainstorming, more thematically-appropriate music can be useful. I liked Loreena McKennitt for some Ranea stories, but jazzier stuff like Al Jarreau for “Going Concerns.” I was listening to a lot of Jimmy Buffett and exotica (tiki music) when I was writing a novella set around a mythical Pacific island. For Kismet it was more high-energy dance and electronica.

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Typically, I write best with ambient music or classical.

Opera because I can’t understand a word they’re saying, but it definitely has the right dramatic structure. :slight_smile:
If I’m not up for Opera, or the story isn’t, I like things without lyrics too. Soundtracks are fabulous and also have the element of story to them.
And Youtube is full of Space Music and instrumental/New Age stuff.

For any kind of writing work, i need something calm, but not too calm. Something that doesn’t actually put me to sleep, but which also is not invigorating in any real sense. So, years ago i came across this thing called soma.fm, which is an online radio network, and their most popular channel is called Groove Salad. Perfect writing sound track for me :slight_smile: Wide variety, but all of it in that perfect range of chilled-but-not-sleepy that i need for writing :slight_smile:

Interestingly, perhaps, is the fact that some of the music on there does have words. Most in English (and oddly enough a couple of things in Danish, which is my first language), but the important thing about this is, i think, that while there is lyrics, it is not the words that are important, but the feel of it. So, they don’t draw attention to themselves, but rather form a part of the tapestry of the sound to produce something which, well, is not distracting.

I just put on whatever album I fancy; I know my music collection well enough that it’s pleasant background noise rather than a distraction.

I do a lot of ambient/New Age in the background while writing, so one of my favorites is still the Ultima Thule podcast. (There’s a bit of talking at the intro and midway to identify an artist or two, but not enough to be jarring.) I also like artists like David Arkenstone and Kevin Kendle (albums Clouds and Flowers).

Most of my stories (especially the longer ones) do wind up with a theme song or a playlist, but that’s more something I listen to before writing or while thinking out the story, not always something I have playing during. (For example, this track became a theme for “Where the Rivers Meet” – not necessarily matching the setting, of course, as much as the mood.)

The wildest, bluesiest Jimi Hendrix available is ideal. “Machine Gun”, most commonly. But that gets old, so I branch out into all the “nastier” classic rock. Sometimes, for a real change-up, a playlist of Beethoven’s collected symphonies.

I find the diversity of ‘writing theme musics’ to be quite interesting, really! Growing up in my time, when science fiction was considered more-or-less nerdy, and hand-in-hand with the tech crowd, I am surprised there are not more people listing various video game songs as inspirational. Perhaps the MechWarrior 2 soundtrack has such a profound effect on me, because it was the first real PC game I owned and could play?

I am always fascinated by the way the human mind links various memories together, for an ending emotion. Perhaps MechWarrior 2’s soundtrack is my driving force because I was just starting to become a creative person when the game came out, and it holds a sort of special place in my heart for that.

On the flip-side, I can no longer listen to Whitesnake’s Fool For Your Loving No More, because it was the last song I heard on the car stereo before I went into a particularly disastrous job interview.

I am impressed that so many people also have such deep feelings for music, that it inspires them or puts them in specific moods or energizes their creativity. Interestingly enough, I had thought that instrumentals would be preferred but I see some people who write even to music with lyrics. I would have thought it distracting, but perhaps, they consider the entire musical piece as one ‘object’ and the actual words and vocals become sort of an instrument in and of itself, where you don’t notice the actual words. So fascinating!

Thank you all for sharing what music inspires and/or triggers your creative drive, or that you put on when to feel creative.

On an additional note, I always feel inspired and creative to write when I hear the Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan soundtrack. It is my favourite movie of all time, absolutely, and I think Nicholas Meyer is a fantastic story-writer. Wrath of Khan always makes me feel productive. It is such a powerful and moving soundtrack. If you have not heard it, you can find it here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDW5-VczFHo&list=PLH9C08qrQ7S7XKQ9tuYR90d5NhE8cGpqv and yes I could talk forever about how Wrath of Khan may be the greatest movie ever made YES I SAID IT SO THERE

For me, this ENTIRELY depends on the story and character. For my latest bit of writing, I’m working on a character who is kind of a cross between Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Cynthia Rothrock, with a HUGE influence from Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat and Tony Stark from Iron Man (personality wise for that last one- not so much mechanically inclined). Because of her absolute cockiness and ‘star quality’, I’ve been listening to Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon, Happy by Pharrell Williams , I’m Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO, and Shoop by Salt N Pepper. Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor thrown in as her guilty pleasures to train to. I had another story that was as simple as me throwing “Red Light Special” by TLC and “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent into Pandora and trimming things down as they played. I had one story that I simply could not focus on without classical music (mmm Tchaikovsky <3), and yet another that demanded Metallica (Black on Black Album, not the new stuff >.<). And yet another that thrived on Eminem/Dr Dre, and yet another that thrived on the Beatles (both pre and post India, depending on the part of the story >.>). You get the idea XD

I can’t imagine using the same playlist for two stories, or even for two characters when I’m focused on character development. So much of Mood is created by music for me, and with each story and each character as unique as they are, it just doesn’t work for me to use the same stuff over and over.

For writing in general, I sometimes like to have ambient or soundtrack music in the background to create a certain atmosphere.

If it comes to a brainstorming ideas for past setting (for instance I’ve written pieces set in the 1960s and 1980s), I like to listen to popular music of the era to get in the mood.

For a specific character, I may listen to certain tracks as I’m brainstorming ideas about their demeanour. I try to consider how a certain piece of music influences my emotions and how I can channel that into their personality, whether or not I choose to mention the song in the story.

For example, if it’s a period character or one who is supposed to have a sophisticated and powerful air about them, I tend to listen to a piece of classical music, Sarabande by Handel being a recent one. For a “badass” character, it’s usually rock (Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Who and The Rolling Stones).

However, I try not to use the same playlists or albums twice in a row. After several listens, the music loses its effect.

I guess I’m going to be the outlier of this group in the kind of music I derive inspiration from.

Punk and metal and most kinds of rock!

My favorite story to date was written entirely to pop-punk music and some of my more recent project have drawn their inspiration from metal-core and heavy metal, and even a bit of southern metal. Bands like Parkway Drive, Famous Last Words, All Time Low, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Get Scared have been my muse in recent days.

Noise to write to is… interesting. Part of it for me depends on time and place. As of late, I’ve been doing a lot of writing at work between calls, so I don’t really get the chance to listen to music.

Other times, when I’m out and about writing, if it is noisy enough that I cannot discern any actual words, I’m in a good place to write.

But when I’m home, it varies. If I need some noise, I usually turn to classical music (celli are awesome) or jazz (Sonny Rollins). I don’t usually do words much because I find it distracting. But I might be able to do foreign music, but I have yet to try that. Then again, it has to be something I don’t know, not an anime OP or ED. Heh.

Whatever I’m doing at my computer, including writing, I often have a random mix of stuff from my music library. That usually works fine for me, but if I find I need something less distracting, I’ll play classical works or instrumental jazz.

I don’t write to music unless there are no words, and even so, the music changes how the characters react. At such times when I did use music, I used to turn on creepy or suspenseful music when writing horror because the chills help vibrate the words out of my paws. I’ve also written short stories to other songs where I wanted to pull a theme.

Music for me is used more in the creation process, like when I want to come up with a story arc and I need to think about it from a different perspective. The music can help adjust my current atmosphere or state of mind. This is normally how I go about getting the right theme or the right personification to my characters. The trick to this is that if I only use one song, I normally am copying the song’s story; but if I blend an idea across multiple pieces, a more original story forms.

To contrast this whole theme, what I found was really fun was trying to write a story that made the reader hear the music. It is much harder a task, but it is possible. And the best part, everyone gets their own song.

What I use varies so much depending on a combination of my mood and what I’m trying to write. I have a favourite playlist of 2000 or so songs, mostly orchestral or foreign (so I don’t get distracted by lyrics), and I’ll skip through to find one that matches my current capacity for writing. Usually it ends up being anime, video game, or movie scores, but the band Anberlin always seems to have something both poetic and relevant. Developing Book Three of my series I’m very deep into their songs ‘Atonement’ and ‘Haunting’ for the main character.

Varies, varies, varies.

Mood has a lot to do with it. Rock tends to be good for idea generation, I sometimes do classical or orchestral when working on plot- video game or movie soundtracks mostly. A lot of the time though, I’ll throw on a podcast (lately Knotcast, Unsheathed, or Fangs & Fonts) or a Let’s Play on YouTube while I write. Something low energy, or that I’ve heard before is best so I can tune it out. Music by Niic the Singing Dog and Pepper Coyote have been in my rotation quite a bit for brainstorming (guys… I think I might be furry…)

But when it comes time to be serious, I’ve found that I need silence to focus- a difficult thing, when one suffers from ADD.