Setting Your Novels to Music?

by | Jan 4, 2011 | Fiction Book Reviews | 16 comments

Do you set your books to music?

Are there certain types of songs that are the backdrop for the scenes swirling in your head, or is it just me?

All of my novels have songs that I either write or hear that I associate with the story – so, I play the songs while I’m brainstorming.

For example, with one of my contemp romance’s, the song is You Got Me by Colbie Caillat

I wrote an instrumental piece to go with my historical novel, but I also am inspired by Nickelback’s Far Away.

I just discovered a new song that has so many of the elements for a new novel idea (part of my contemp romance series). The style of the music and message are perfect for this novel. The song is called It’s all about your Heart by Mindy Gledhill.

As crazy as it sounds, I even have a song that fits my Speculative Fiction novel.  It Is You I have Loved by Dana Glover.

I’ve created a Playlist of songs that are particularly inspirational to me – spiritually and with my writing, so that as I listen, my mind is sifting through my stories and trying to make the images more vibrant.

Somewhere in my brain, there’s a story for the song When Did You Fall by Chris Rice – but I only feel it percolating back in my mind. The story is yet to unfold 🙂

Do you have songs that inspire you in your writing?


  1. Elaine Cooper

    Yes! I thought it was just me…:-) While writing my Colonial American novels, I sometimes play melodies from that era, not just when working on my laptop (I keep the volume low, like soft back ground music) but also while driving the car to get myself in an 18th century frame of mind. I recently wrote a dance scene where the couple on the verge of falling in love was wooed by a courting song that I love called “Maiden Lane.” It definitely enhanced the mood!

    • Pepper

      THANK YOU!! It’s so much nicer to be weird with a like-minded person, than to be all alone.
      Doesn’t the music just add so much?

  2. Angi Griffis

    Hi Pepper,
    I enjoyed your post. I can relate to this. I dabble a little with writing and yes, I like to listen to music when I do. I find myself listening to instrumental music so that words in the background won’t muddle my thoughts. I love music that sounds like something from an epic movie. Helps to get the scenes flowing in my mind. One of my favorite types of music is Native American Flute Music.
    Thanks for sharing what helps you to write.
    Angi. 🙂

    • Pepper

      Oh Angie,
      the native American flute it lovely.
      That ‘hollow’ wind sound it almost ethereal. Quite conducive for imagination 🙂

    • Pepper

      Oh Angie,
      I love the ‘hollow’ wind sound of the Native American flute. Great inspiration for the imagination 🙂

  3. Keli Gwyn

    I play Vivaldi and other classical composers’ pieces while I write. Since my stories are historicals, the music of yesteryear serves to take me back in time. When I hear the familiar strains, I time warp to the 1800s.

    • Pepper

      Don’t you just love that feeling?!? That ‘time warp’ feeling.

  4. Kaye Dacus

    I’m a little freaked out right now, because I was just sitting here thinking about what music I should put on to try to get the opening scene of the sample chapters for my historical proposal written.

    I have to have music when I’m writing. My first pubbed novel, SIG, is the only one that has its own true “soundtrack”—made up of all of the Standards I mentioned in the book. There were two songs (Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and “Return to Me”) which played vital roles in the book and were the two songs that could immediately immerse me in my storyworld.

    For the most part, I listen to instrumental movie and TV soundtracks when I’m writing (or when I’m editing). I made a playlist of music from pirate/sea-faring movies and Jane Austen adaptations for writing the Ransome series. But this new historical series is set in 1851—an era I’m not overly familiar with socially, culturally, or musically. Time to do some music research!

    • Pepper

      Great minds….
      I have ‘word’ songs I listen as if my mind is playing the credits of my movie (novel) – or maybe even a ‘music video’ of the movie – and I”ll have scenes flash through my head while the song is played.

      But music really sets a writing mood for me. Some with words. Some without.
      Maybe you should get with Keli on what music she’s listening to for 1850s 🙂

  5. Sherrinda

    I can’t listen to music with words, because i get distracted. But I enjoy soft instrumental music in the background. Nothing really inspires stories though. 😉

  6. Jill W

    I can so relate, Pepper. Last year I participated for the first time in NANOWRIMO. I’d never written more than 2000 words for contest entries, etc. I succeeded in writing 52,000 words during the month of November and played my iPod nonstop with John Denver and The Carpenters. 🙂 I’m gearing my novel toward the Love Inspired Series for Steeplehill and these artists lyrics help the words fly onto the page. Now, it’s time to edit. 🙂

    • pepperbasham

      Oh Julie,
      What fun! And congrats on the massive wordcount. How GREAT is that!!!

  7. Alycia Morales

    I, too, love to think of songs that would fit my writing. I’m currently working on a memoir. Being that I grew up in the 80’s and loved music, I associate a variety of songs with my memories of the times I’m writing about. They’re listed throughout my memoir. And I’m thinking about using lyric clips as chapter openers.
    How timely to find your post on the BRMCWC group site!
    ~ Alycia

    • pepperbasham

      So glad you stopped by. And I’m totally with you on some of the 80s music, but more late 80s early 90s for me 🙂 I think using lyrics as chapter openers is a fun idea.


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