I took dance classes as a kid (ballet, tap and jazz), and I’ve always had a strong response to music — to the point that I only feel ready to write if I’ve had 5-30 minutes to bop around with headphones on before I get down to business. I also used to play flute and piano, sing and do theater (including musical theater), and though I was never very good at any of that, it all had a huge impact.
Technically I don’t listen to music during the process of writing (I can’t handle the distraction, though I keep my headphones on to continue blocking out incidental noise) but it’s always had a huge impact on my characters and the flow of my prose — and sometimes even the visuals. Since I’m about halfway done with the rewrite of Book 3, I feel like it’s time to talk a bit more about the process.
Plus I can highlight some of my favorite bands!
I don’t tweet much, but sometimes while I’m gearing up to write, I’ll link a song that’s really influencing the text that day. The most recent one is by a Gothic Rock band called The Birthday Massacre, presented below, that I’ve been using to get into the character of Dasira te’Navrin.
I’ve been a fan of this band for a while. Before them, I usually characterized Dasira with really fast techno instrumentals — fighting songs, basically — since if I can’t find something that lyrically fits, they make easy fall-backs. But this band combines strong female vocals with aggressive guitar and synth and character-relevant lyrics, so it really works for me.
There are relevant songs from other bands too, like this one:
With Das getting music of her own, the fight-paced techno has shifted to Fiora Kinrick, who’s been more difficult for me to characterize lyrically. So she most often gets things I can’t actually understand, but which are goddamn peppy, like this:
I hear you asking, ‘how is that fighting music’? Obviously you don’t watch enough anime.
When it comes to actual character songs, alas, I tend to fall back on radio pop. At least during this phase of her story. This one works all right:
Oops….was that a spoiler? 😡
Does Lark want to sing about her feelings now? Hey Lark!
Oh…so…party planning? That’s cool, I guess. You don’t want any fight music?
Well… Right. I’ll see what I can do for you and your issues. I don’t think there will be enough time for dragonslaying in this book though.
I think this has devolved into character karaoke, but I’m okay with that. How about the guys! Guys?
What, you don’t want to sing?
Oh, Shaidaxi wants to sing. Well, he always does, but he’s terrible at it. Send up a protagonist please.
Linciard wants to sing something? I suppose he’s working his way up toward protagonist. Lieutenant Linciard, folks.
Great job, great job. A little concerned about your self-esteem, though.
Ahh, Arik has a song!
And there he goes, dancing off down the block, swishing that wolf-tail. Thank you Arik, your contribution has been noted.
Anyone else? Cob? Captain Sarovy? Ilshenrir?
No, Shaidaxi, it’s not your turn yet.
Here we go, Ilshenrir shall sing. A traditional wraith song, or would that just be humming?
Well, that was quite down-tempo after the others. But suitable for someone who floats instead of runs.
Are you…having some problems with the Guardian, then?
Well, it sounds like you have some sort of plan, at least. Good luck with that.
Captain Sarovy, do you sing?
Ahh, army troubles. Anything else?
I’m a bit concerned now. Is there something you want to tell us?
All right, then we move on to —
No, Shaidaxi, it’s not your turn yet.
Emperor Aradys, I see your hand is up. What would you like to sing?
Ah yes. That was…not unexpected.
Anyone else? Anyone? Anyone at all?
…fine, Shaidaxi, you can have the microphone. Archmagus Shaidaxi Enkhaelen, everyone.
Yes, that was very nice. Now —
Fine, two songs, that’s reasonable, so —
All right, give me the microphone —
I said give me the microphone!
No, you can’t keep the karaoke machine! What are you doing?! Come back here you little shit!