Helping you to connect with the writer within
Creating a soundtrack for your story is a great way to capture the mood. Music evokes emotion and compiling a playlist for your story will help you to set the tone. When you picture a scene and know what song would play at that very moment, you’ve determined how your characters are feeling or how you wish the reader to feel. This will help you stay ‘in tune’ with what is happening emotionally in your story, and once you’re happy with the soundtrack you’ve created, try playing it when writing/editing your work – you’ll settle into this space and achieve the atmosphere that you are aiming for – also, it’s just a really fun thing to do!
What’s your favourite movie soundtrack?
I’ve got plenty of favourites but one that bodes to be a great example is the soundtrack to Forrest Gump. It’s a platter of iconic songs, representing each decade told in the story of Forrest Gump’s life – starting with Elvis Presley of the 50s, moving onto Motown songs of the 60s like “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “I Can’t Help Myself” by Four Tops and then into the 70s with songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynrd – a very fitting song as Forrest Gump is from Alabama.
This film captures the essence of these times well, especially during the Flower Power, Sixties Revolution scenes with songs like “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair” by Scott McKenzie and “California Dreamin” by The Mamas & Papas that wistfully bore the message that California was the place to be to experience this blissful freedom of peace and free love. A good portion of the movie also focuses on the war on Vietnam and Forrest Gump finds himself fighting a war he doesn’t understand (isn’t this usually the way?) and songs like “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (originally sung by Bob Dylan) remind us that there was a musical movement going on back then, protests against the war were being made through song and the radio was playing anthems for the American soldiers who were out there in Asia (Someone has soundtracked a compilation of Vietnam footage perfectly with this song on YouTube).
The nature of this film is a recount on all the significant events that happened for America between this bracket of time, with Forrest Gump as a character at the centre of it all, and the soundtrack really does reflect that.
Creating a soundtrack for a story that has no particular place in history or time is a little tricker to compile but understanding your genre is a good start but try not to be too obvious; if it’s a Romance, resist the temptation to press play on Celine Dion, it’s far too sickening. I once wrote a Thriller play for a Theatre Arts project at school and I listened to a lot of The Prodigy to get me in the right space to write and perform it! Think about what’s happening in the scenes, what your character’s are feeling and what moments you wish to mark to the reader as important and use the music to help you work through it.