My characters often get their own playlists, but in the last book I wrote the villain was a very specific personality, and he inspired a beautiful thing: a big sprawling Pinterest board full of photos and music videos that became a Spotify list. Here’s some things I’ve found that help with figuring out songs for the list (and the character’s personality):
- A sense of aesthetic. This is the main thing. What feel do you associate with the character? Melancholy? Epic-ness? Sass? Choose songs that reflect that.
- A sense of story. Does this character triumph? What type of dark night of the soul do they suffer–are they betrayed, hopeless, lonely? There’s a sad song for every occasion.
- Without lyrics that you *have* to pay attention to/sing. This is a practical one. Some writers can’t write to music that has any lyrics at all. I like songs with lyrics, but with a prominent beat or bass line, because it can fade into the background of my subconscious and inspire me to type faster.
- That you associate with the book. Some characters of mine show up with a song that I feel perfectly expresses them. Other times it takes a while, after I’ve met them, to figure out who they are. Then, as I write the book, eventually the whole book gets songs or albums associated with it. This is useful in a behaviorist kind of way, because listening to the album triggers the “it’s time to write now” part of my brain.
Curious about what showed up on my villain’s playlist? You can listen on Spotify here.
Do you listen to music while you write?