Writers Write is a resource for writers. We’ve put together a series of posts on music in writing. In this post we discuss how to use music to improve your pacing.
Music In Writing: Part One – How To Use Music To Improve Your Pacing
Plan the soundtrack to your book
There are times when I need loud music to write. There are times when I need absolute silence. There are times when I sing aloud and bop in my chair – it doesn’t make for great typing, but it does make for great pace. Happy story, happy music.
And then, there are times when I whisper the lyrics to an old, weepy love song and type through my tears while the love interest dies a sad and unnecessary death. Then I smirk, my evil sadistic smile as AC/DC’s TNT comes on and I yank the cord of the chainsaw I am going to use to chop him up, because my protagonist is a bat-shit crazy serial killer.
Did you notice the difference?
Did you notice how I engaged different emotions and how I changed pace with each of these examples? I made you bop, I made you wilt, I made you freak out just a little bit.
Music is a great way to change pace. Watch movies and series. Take note of the music. The music in a horror movie tells you what is coming long before the scary monster confronts you. In a romance movie, the music tells you when the kiss is coming. The music builds as the anticipation does.
Put on your director’s hat
When you are struggling with a scene, put on your moviemaker hat and think about the song you would use in the scene if it were a movie. As a rule chase scenes have fast music, the music in a love scene usually slows things down and then it swells accordingly, if you’ll pardon the pun. Unless it’s a sordid quickie in the storeroom, then you might need something with a bit of a thump, but you get my drift.
Here is a suggestion:
- Write a list of your scenes.
- Label each scene ‘fast’ or ‘slow’.
- Identify the emotions. Is the scene happy, scary or depressing?
- Pick a song for each scene.
- Listen to the song as you write or rewrite the scene. Notice how it influences your pacing.
Sometimes songs with lyrics annoy me, because I end up listening to the words and it distracts me, then I turn to the classics or to foreign language songs. They can’t irritate me if I don’t understand them.
If you have an awesome song to share, leave a comment below and tell me how you use it to change pace.
Watch out for next Wednesday’s post, Music In Writing: Part Two – Memories
by Mia Botha