Monday, May 11, 2009

Play that Funky Music

Hi, Stephanie Newton here. When I'm working on a story, I make a soundtrack of songs that have meaning for those characters. A lot of writers do the same, I think. For me, it's an auditory cue as I start work. It reminds me who my characters are and taps into my emotions.

A few weeks ago, when I was finishing Smoke Screen, my January book, some friends generously offered their carriage house for a writer's retreat. They live in our old neighborhood so when I drove in, the sights of my hometown were a welcome home. As I sat writing, though, I realized how familiar the sounds were. So different from what I hear where I live now, yet I didn’t realize I even missed them.

The boats buzzing and grumbling on the international waterway. The ocean so close that when the south wind blows, I could hear the surf. Above my head, I heard the orange and white T-38 trainer planes that the Navy uses to train their fighter pilots. Where I live now I hear planes, but it’s not the tiny buzz of the T-38’s, it’s the roar of the F-22. I don’t hear softly lapping water of the Santa Rosa Sound, I hear the chorus of a million frogs that have grown from tadpoles in the pond behind my house.

It’s funny, I think. The sounds of home are so comforting and they’re so familiar that most of the time I don’t even notice them. You could add to mine the sound of the X-box in the greatroom and the guitar from my daughter’s room. The soccer ball hitting…something. The kids laughing—or arguing. Barking dogs as the squirrel comes to the window to taunt them.

It is a kind of music, I think. It’s the soundtrack of my life.


Missy Tippens said...

What a beautiful way to describe it, Stephanie. The soundtrack of your life. :)

I've found I tend to have a theme song with some books. But I should try doing a soundtrack! I never thought of that. Thanks for the idea.

Merrillee said...

I definitely did a song track for my very first book, especially since one of the songs inspired the book to begin with. I find certain songs do bring emotions to the story.

Stephanie Newton said...

My couples usually have a "theme" song, too, but I love to make a playlist of songs that pull me back into the story. When I sit down to write and start my playlist, it's sort of the musical equivalent of reading over the last scene. ;o)

Merrillee, isn't it fun to hear a song that makes you hold your breath?