Writer’s Block: Character Playlists

Somehow, I landed on another writing hiatus. Thanks life, much appreciated. The clouds of life eventually cleared and the will to be creative returned. However, The Muse did not. She didn’t get the memo. Revisiting the story world… cold. Re-reading notes or last written prose was nothing more than words on a page. I employed my old tricks to jump-start the writing engine (read about some old tricks here). The creative motor failed. One of my kick starters in the past has been consuming media (movies, tv shows, songs) similar to the story in question for inspiration. The Muse usually comes out all hyper “I love this but would change X, Y, and Z.” Fantastic, let’s go be masters of our own world. Woo hoo, The Muse and I are back in action. It helps that many of my story seeds start as fan fiction but quickly grow into something else. The original source remains an inspiration to trigger The Muse into playing.

Currently, I am working on “Lucy’s Story” (working title only), a dark fantasy with psychological elements set in The ImmorTales world. One of the main series is inspired by a song. Don’t ask me which one, because I’d have to bow my head down in shame if I ever told. To lure The Muse, I played the secret song… and nothing… no creative spark. WTF! Ok, it happens from time to time. Writer’s block is a real thing. The key is to know when writer’s block is the real deal and when it’s procrastination (read more here). Hint: most of the time writer’s block is procrastination, or as I call it, The Lazy Muse Syndrome (TLMS). If the block is the real deal, back off and do something else, there is no point in forcing, but try something for 10 minutes just in case the block has morphed into TLMS. For me, this time, it was TLMS (the desire to get into the story and life being drama free gave it away). If one trigger song lost its magic, could The Muse resist an army of songs? Hello, playlist. 

I’ve heard of writers creating playlists for their novels before. A part of me scoffed — busy work for a procrastinating writer. I am eating my words. What started out as just wanting to listen to random music and under the guise of “working”, allowed me to enter Lucy’s head and recall her psychology during different events that shaped her character arch. Music evokes emotion in a way no other medium can. The key is to match songs to character emotions or personality and be selective. One song that fits is better than many that don’t quite match. Beyond Lucy, I found songs for other characters, storylines, and future books in the series. It’s worth noting, story or series anthems are a bit different to character assigned songs; they are the tunes that evoke the overall energy or theme of the story world or storyline rather than individual character psychology. They anchor The Muse to the story, just as character songs anchor The Muse to the assigned character.

Here’s an exert I wrote the following day in my writing log…

Still find it difficult to switch my brain. I created a Lucy Playlist. Listening to songs has helped me dive into her mindset. Obviously, there is the series anthem. Beyond that, who knew Lucy would be reflected in Garbage’s “Heaven is Wide” or Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” (I never overly liked that song). Some of the songs represent her dreams and others her struggles. Some songs I suspect will get recycled. Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” is likely a series anthem. “Live to Tell” popped up — she’s been living a lie and needs to correct it with the truth. Other songs represent her state of mind “People Are Strange” (The Doors), “Carnival” (Natalie Merchant), and “Sweet Dreams” (the Sucker Punch version). And for the dreams — “White Rabbit”. 

Tannille’s Writing Log

In conclusion, creating a playlist for Lucy, kick-started the creative fire — insert happy dance. I’m back working on my dirty draft (a hybrid of a screen writer’s treatment, a plan, and a novelist’s first draft — it’s all over the place, organised chaos… mostly). Creating playlists for characters is now in my writer’s toolbox. 

Note to self: don’t scoff at what you haven’t tried. 

Categories: Characters, Writers' Tool Box, Writing, Writing Battles

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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