At first I was hesitant to admit that Stephanie Meyer and I have a technique in common, but alas, I can hide it no longer.
One of my favourite writing techniques is to soundtrack.
I started sound-tracking long before I started seriously writing. When I was younger, I’d come up with stories based on the music I was listening to on long drives with my parents. I couldn’t read in the car without getting motion sick and I think it would be better off if I didn’t finish that thought. It was also a way to make country music bearable. As I got older, I would listen to music when working out and think “this would suit ___”, either a character or a scene or even a relationship between characters. I also would look up songs to help me get the tone of a scene just right.
My sound-tracking process is fairly standard. I use iTunes to create a playlist and play my soundtracks. If I feel like sharing them, I use internet streaming sites, such as grooveshark and 8tracks. My music comes from the radio, my own musical tastes and from fan videos (which I will be talking about next week). However, if I am dissatisfied with my own music library and can’t find an appropriate song, I use songfacts. Songfacts has songs categorized by artists, eras, where the song is from, and, most useful for my purposes, what the song is about. If I am writing a scene about a character grieving for their lost friend, for example, I can look up “songs written for friends who died” and find several good songs to use. If I really wanted to, I can use google, but I’d rather just have one site to use.
Sound-tracking has its pros and cons. I find that it helps me set the tone of the scene or story. It also provides good background noise to help me drown out all else—I live with some very noisy folks who don’t always understand that it’s writing time right now you guys SILENCE. Creating the soundtracks also provides a nice break from lengthy writing sessions. However, sometimes I cannot find a good song for a scene or a character and it’s frustrating. It can also be too much of a distraction—I’m one of those people that will get distracted by listening to the artist’s whole repertoire and forget that I should probably be writing. All in all, though, sound-tracking is a good writing tool.