Music

Music In Writing

Yep, we’re back to music. Because music is awesome, and it can actually be a really cool storytelling tool. Yes, this post is different than my “Music and Writing” post. That post was about listening to music while you write, while this one is about actually putting music in your writing and using it as a tool. It was also supposed to go up yesterday, but I got distracted by music while I was writing it and didn’t get it finished when I meant to and then forgot about it. Oops. But it’s here now, and only a day late, so I consider that something of a win, at least.

Music for character development

This one’s possibly the most obvious. I only have playlists for a couple of my characters (mostly because I have a jillion playlists anyway, so unless something strikes me as particularly perfect I don’t start a playlist), but the ones I do have were a lot of fun to put together and give a lot of insight into the characters behind them. And having them opens up your ears to other things to add. The two character playlists I have belong to Livi Brooklyn, a peppy character from my Memories & Photographs short story series, and the other belongs to Clissa Hiara, a seductress villain from my pending novel Dark Queen Rising. Total opposites, and both super fun characters to write and make playlists and Pinterest boards for.

Livi’s almost doesn’t count as a character playlist I suppose, since it’s more songs that she would listen to than songs that fit her as a character super well (though there are certainly some of those), but even that is a big eye-opener to character. When making a character, consider thinking about what music they might listen to. Livi likes Christian pop, pop, and alternative rock. Clissa likes classical music.

Something that could be a good window into background could be how broad their musical repertoire is. I, for instance, like just about any kind of music under the sun (and yet somehow I’m still super picky about my music? I’m weird.) I listen to classical, instrumental, a cappella, some pop and alternative rock, pretty much anything Christian (hymns, contemporary, rap, pop, rock, etc.), etc. I inherited the classical and pop from my dad; I inherited the Christian anything, instrumental, and a cappella from both parents. I inherited the alternative rock from friends. Oh, and there’s also some electronic stuff thrown in there thanks to Spotify’s stations. (Spotify is awesome, BTW. I highly recommend it.) Where did your characters get their taste in music from? Was it something they found on their own? Family members? Friends? Whatever’s popular?

In a new story I’ll be working on soon, the main character lives far in the future, but she listens to songs like “The Sound of Silence” and “American Pie.” (I have yet to figure out how she got to listening to those, but I’ll figure it out.)

Also, how does your character like to listen to their music? Livi loves vinyl and her MP3 player. She has, like, ten pairs of headphones/earbuds. The character mentioned above, Christine, listens on the radio. This can also tie into my next point about using music in the plot.

Music can be a huge key to character development.

Music for foreshadowing/plot

Music can be a great tool for foreshadowing or to support a plot. For instance, Christine is listening to a certain song which ends up foreshadowing the plot. I plan on having several similar songs played throughout the story, or mentioned, or something. I’m not 100% sure yet, I just know I’m going to be doing a lot with music in that story.

You can also use music as a main plot point, which I’m doing with the above story and which I did with my short story Charming. Your character might be a musician, a singer, or just a music-lover. Or maybe they don’t even like music, but they hear it a lot in the story in opportune places or something. Which is not a suggestion to use it as a crutch. If you use it that way, make it subtle.

You can also make playlists for your stories, to help you get a feel for the story and its characters. I was able to do this really effectively (with some help from my friend Ruby. Thank you. :) ) with my Wonderland playlist. I like the mix of pop with the classic Wonderland music because I think it blends the two worlds together, as does the story itself. And the whole thing is just fun to listen to. (Plus it’s 71 songs, so it’ll play for a while.)

Music for worldbuilding

This one is a bit harder than the others, because you can’t necessarily just grab existing music. Figure out what music there would be in your world. In some cases this doesn’t mean writing out lyrics or anything, it just means deciding what instruments are common and that sort of thing, but in other cases – like my short story Charming – you have to come up with lyrics and artist names and stuff like that. It depends a lot on your world. And depending on how much you want to get into this, it could be fun to write a song for each of your story worlds, even if you don’t necessarily put them into the story. It could help give you a feel for the world and what they value and stuff like that. Music tells a lot about values, which is why I’m so careful about it in most cases. I don’t want to be putting things into my head that will repeat themselves, and a lot of music is fun to listen to. It’s music, after all. Since I almost always have something playing through my head, I like it to be something wholesome and uplifting. But that was off-topic, and it’s something I cover more in another post, so I’ll stop now.

 

Music can be an incredibly powerful storytelling tool, and it’s fun in the process, so consider what you could do with it. :)

 

My Favorite Music

“Autumn,” you say, “This is a writing blog. What are you doing talking about music?”

I know, I know. But I also love music, so you’ll just have to put up with me talking about it for a post or two. This post is about some of my favorite songs and artists and why they’re my favorite.

The topic of this post came about from the sermon before an all-nighter I went to Friday night. They were talking about teens being dangerous to the Devil and how music and movies these days are geared at teens and can be very worldly. Later on the radio in the bowling alley and the trampoline place we went to, I heard a couple of songs that had really fun music and atrocious lyrics. The most memorable was “Shape of You,” by Ed Sheeran. Songs like those, bad songs wrapped in a package of great music, are dangerous. Which is not to say that all secular music is bad, and there is still secular music that I listen to, but you have to be careful. Anyway, that got me thinking about what music I listen to, and thus this post came about.

MercyMe

I have nearly all of MercyMe’s albums saved on Spotify, and there are very few songs of theirs that I don’t like. They do a great job of getting to biblical truths in their songs, and it’s all really eye-opening and deep-reaching.

Even If

This is definitely my favorite of my songs, though all of them are great. I first heard it on the radio when a lot of stuff in my life felt really shaky, and it affected me quite a lot. I don’t think I’m legally allowed to quote it, but the chorus is just a great reminder that things aren’t in our control and God’s plan isn’t necessarily our plan.

Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins is an excellent songwriter, and as with MercyMe, he has very few songs I don’t like. They’re all really deep, and he does a good job of mixing that with fun music.

My current favorite of his songs (because there’s no choosing one favorite Rich Mullins song) is “What Trouble Are Giants.” It seems rather fitting, because the sermon before the all-nighter used David and Goliath as a focal point.

Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns is another one that’s really good at writing eye-opening music. They have several songs on the the lack of alertness and love in the church. One of my favorites is “If We Are the Body,” but it’s hard to pick just one favorite, as tends to happen with my favorite artists, obviously.

tobyMac

tobyMac is an example of really fun music with a good message. A couple of my favorites are “Beyond Me,” “Speak Life,” and “Like a Match.” The latter two are about showing our faith through our actions, and the first is about God being far greater than we are.

Britt Nicole

Another example of fun music and good messages. Her music is especially geared toward teen girls, but it’s great for anyone to listen to. My favorite is probably “Set the World On Fire.” It’s an invitation for God to use you.

for King & Country

A friend of mine termed for King & Country as having “a song for everything.” I listen to them when I want to hear something uplifting. I especially like “Matter” and “Fix My Eyes.”

Hallelujahs by Chris Rice

This song is gorgeous, both musically and lyrically. It paints a beautiful picture of how everything in creation points to God and it’s just gorgeous. ^-^

Thank God for Something by Hawk Nelson

This song is a great reminder of how there’s always something to be thankful for, no matter how small. As someone who tends to overlook little mercies and complains too much, it’s good to hear. Plus it’s wrapped up in upbeat (if musically boring) music that’s fun to listen to.

 

What are some of your favorite songs and why? What is some secular music that’s still good and encouraging?

Life of a Teenage Homeschool Writer

I’m a teenage home-schooled writer, and I know at least some of those who might be inclined to read my blog are as well, so I thought I’d share what joys and struggles I’ve found this brings, and then if you’d like you can share your own joys and struggles in the comments.

First off we have teenager. I’m in my mid-teens, which is annoying because I’m old enough to want to go places and not quite old enough to be able to get myself to those places, and since my mom is chronically ill and I have younger siblings it’s not a viable option to get her to take me to things. I’ll be very excited when I can get my license. Some of the things I’d like to be able to drive myself to are choir events, writing group meetings, bookstores, and coffee shop writing sessions, among other things. I always see advice for writer’s block suggesting going and writing at a coffee shop or someplace like that and I hate it just because I can’t do that and I would love to be able to. I hate having to inconvenience people anytime I need to go to something because I can’t drive myself. One more year… Being a younger-middle teenager also means that I have no income currently other than allowance (yes, I still get allowance), so I can’t take writing courses or save up my own money for an editor for my book very easily. However, teen years tend to be the cutoff for a lot of things, and you can only join them once you’re a teenager (e.g. camp, my writing group,

I’m also homeschooled, which is great because it means if I can get my schoolwork done quickly I have more time to do things like write or chat with friends (those are basically the only things I do because… I can’t get to anything. And I have very few friends. And I’m not good at much/don’t like much.) Anyway, the point is, I have more free time if I can get my schoolwork done. I’m not stuck in a classroom for eight hours, sometimes already done with my assignment and just waiting around for others to be finished and class to end (I’m not being proud here. I went to a school-ish thing and was ahead of everyone in one section and just had to wait for the next step because people were still working on the last step. It was boring waiting and I wished I’d taken a book.) It also means that my writing can sometimes count as schoolwork.

As a writer, I do a lot of wri… never mind. I do a lot of procrastinating and pretend I’m writing, and wish I was writing, and continuously tell myself I should be writing while continuing to do whatever it is I’m doing to procrastinate. One downside to my current writing process is that when I’m stuck on both of my current projects I feel like I don’t have anything else to work on (except short stories, which I’m doing a lot of lately because of my Short Story Sunday blog series), so it’s hard to find something to write. *glances at huge “pending” folder* Oh come on, don’t look at me like that. *cough* Yeah, so that’s tricky currently. I’m waiting for outside feedback on The Dark War and I’m just going through writer’s block on The Heart of the Baenor. *wishes she could write in a coffee shop and see if it helped* I guess now it’s time to work on the short story for next Sunday that I’ve written about… five paragraphs for.

What are some things you struggle with or like about being a writer/homeschooled/teenager?

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