How does Music Relate to your Writing?

So, I know one of New Year’s Resolutions was to not miss important deadlines, but I actually have a good excuse this time. About a week ago I found myself with a tiny bit of a concussion. I wish I could say I got the concussion in a badass way, like snowboarding down a cliff or falling off a rollercoaster, but unfortunately that is not the case. Instead I had a door “accidentally” slammed into my face. I put “accidentally” in quotation marks because I have the sneaking suspicion that it was not an accident. That guy was out to get me.

While getting the concussion was fun and all, it did make it hard to concentrate, (having to read The Great Gatsby was as rough as the other side of a sponge) and writing was all but impossible. Hell, it took me five hours just to write that last sentence alone. (Kidding!) But I’m getting better now, so that’s good.

Now, onto the prompt:

Prompt: “How does music relate to your writing?”

This is a tricky question, because half the time I prefer to write in silence, and when I do write with music on, it’s always movie soundtracks. I never listen to songs with lyrics while writing, because gosh darnit, it’s distracting. Take The Hanging Tree, for example:

Did you find that song hauntingly beautiful? Did a single, mockingjay-shaped tear fall artfully down your cheek whilst listening? If not, you are a terrible person with an even more terrible taste in music. You should be ashamed.

While I love this song and everything about it, I don’t listen to it while writing because I know I won’t get anything done. I’ll just start humming along and typing the lyrics as I go. (are you? are you? coming to tree…) Which is why I only listen to the song while doing other, less important things. Like homework.

I also make it a point to listen to a song that coincides with the mood I’m trying to purvey. Because if I’m listening to sad music, the scene will seem sadder to me, even if it isn’t. Sad songs include: Hans Zimmer’s Time, Hans Zimmer’s Watch the World Burn, and Max Richter’s Those Left Behind

When I’m writing an action scene, I have action-y music playing in the background, like Inception’s “Mind Heist.” or the Bourne Supremacy’s “Berlin Foot Chase.” Or Murray Gold’s “The Majestic Tale (of a Madman in a Box)” which is without a doubt the best soundtrack the show’s ever had. In fact, I think went a month where all I listened to were the different “I am the Doctor” melodies, right here.

Only when I’m writing romantic/happy scenes do I include songs with lyrics in them. This is because I rarely write happy scenes and my romantic scenes are always awful. In fact, here’s an actual transcript of a scene I wrote the other day.

“Sup girl,” said Devin Devinsky, who looked like a total badass in his leather jacket and fancy sunglasses. He was on a motorcycle. “Wanna go for a ride?”

Lisa felt a flutter in her chest. Was this love?

Not my best piece of writing, I’ll admit. Anywho, the romantic songs I generally listen to are “I Got you Babe,” by Etta Jones, and Dreaming of You by the Coral, the latter of which was played during the sexiest scene of Scrubs ever. 

And then there are the soundtracks that are just plain epic; that purvey so many different emotions that I can’t simply categorize it as “sad” or “happy” or “action-y” (that’s a word). For example, there’s the soundtrack Cornfield Chase and Day One, which both make me feel sad and hopeful at the same time. Like we’re all going to die due to some catastrophic event, but it’s all going to be okay somehow. Then there’s Hans Zimmer’s “I’m Not a Hero,” which I will insert here simply due to the fact that I really want you all to listen to it, especially that last minute. 

I have no idea how to describe that last twenty seconds, except with lots of exclamations points, so here I go: 


Seriously, that whole thing at the end (I wish I knew what it was called or how to describe it), gets me so pumped up. I want to run right now. I want to punch someone in the face (in a cool, badass way). I want to fly around Gotham and beat up thugs and criminals, just because of that twenty seconds of brilliance. Too bad I can’t, because, y’know, concussion. 

So, how does music relate to your writing? That is the question.

Below is a list of all the other TCWT participants:

Why Splitting Mockingjay was for the Best

(Caution: spoilers galore for the events of Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins)

So I just recently watched Mockingjay: Part One, and I’ve come to two conclusions:

1) I don’t usually condone murder, but someone needs to kill that guy behind me who kept clapping every ten minutes. Yes, Katniss shooting down a plane with a bow and arrow is cool and all, but it is not cool enough to warrant an obnoxious clap while people are sitting right in front of you. What is the point of “clapping” anyway? Who exactly thought that smacking your hands together loudly should be a good way of expressing your approval? Oh, and also:

2) While splitting Mockingjay was almost definitely a decision motivated by greed, that doesn’t matter much because it all worked out perfectly.

I liked the book and all, but the last third of it was a tiny bit rushed and confusing. If Mockingjay was made into one single installment, it would’ve made an even more rushed and even more confusing movie. Katniss’s PTSD would not have been explored to nearly as much an extent, every single one of Effie’s scenes would’ve been cut, and that whole Hanging Tree segment probably never would’ve happened, which would suck because that song was quite possibly the best scene in the whole series, if measured in the amount of chills it gave me. I mean seriously, I’m listening to it right now, and I just shed a mockingjay-shaped tear.

If Mockingjay was made into one two and a half hour movie, at least half of Part 1 would’ve had to be cut. I can only think of two, maybe three scenes from that Part 1 I’d be willing to get rid of, let alone an entire hour’s worth. Not to mention the sheer amount of character development we’d lose in a single adaptation. Prim, Finnick, and Johanna barely get enough screentime as it is. Their deaths would be utterly meaningless* to those who haven’t read the books, and disappointing to those who have, if their screentime was limited to a single movie.

But really, the one thing everyone on the internet seem to be forgetting is that the book itself is split into two very distinctive parts. Katniss’s entire motivation in the first half is to do what she can to save Peeta, while she spends the second half getting to grips with his condition as Peeta slowly heals. And the first half focuses on the use of war propaganda as both sides try to manipulate the districts into joining their cause, while the second half focuses on the war that results. In the words of producer Nina Jacobsen, “Mockingjay 1 is about the propaganda war, Mockingjay 2 is about war.”

Not to mention, if Mockingjay was only made into one movie, Natalie Dormer never would’ve been casted. And that would be a tragedy.

*Prim and Finnick’s deaths, I mean. Not Johanna’s.

The Book is Not Always Better

(Just kidding, it is.)

For the TCWT blog chain, the prompt is:

 “What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

I like this topic, because it’s very broad and I can go in almost any direction I want, providing it’s not to the right. There’s a giant needle sticking out of the wall on my right side, and I’m trying to avoid it. Anywho…

Life is rough for book-to-movie adaptations. Not only must they be able to stand on their own two feet as a movie—a completely different type of entertainment than a book— but they also have to put up with all the die-hard book purists that throw a fit over every minor change.

(Note: I am occasionally one of those diehard book purists. Example: The Shining.)

I think we need to stop being so hard on these, poor, misunderstood movies. Directing an adaptation is like being forced to walk on a tightrope above Niagara Falls*, except on one side of the rope, there’s a bunch of crazy book-readers shouting “YOU’VE RUINED THE WHOLE SERIES!” and on the other side there’s a bunch of snobby movie critics saying things like, “I feel like this movie caters way too much to the fans of the book, to the point where it doesn’t stand on its own as a movie. Also, not enough symbolism, and the juxtaposition between motifs was a bit clumsily done. 2/5 stars.” And if the book in question is a young adult novel, then the critics will undoubtedly compare it to Twilight or Harry Potter, no matter what it’s about.

It’s a lot like basing a movie off a cartoon from the nineties, except with those you have people complaining “YOU’VE RUINED MY CHILDHOOD!” because as it turns out, it’s possible to destroy someone’s entire childhood simply by making a bad movie based off a show they used to like. Who knew?

I think people need to remember that a movie is completely different from a novel, and that some things that would work well in a book would look terrible in a movie. For example, Daenerys Targaryen is only thirteen when the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire started. Things would not have gone well if the producers behind Game of Thrones hired a girl who was actually thirteen to play her.

With many adaptations though, it can be frustrating, because some books have so much potential to be great, but the people producing it are clearly out to get you, and are intentionally making it terrible just to piss you off, so it seems. Why can’t they let me write the scripts for all the adaptations I’m interested in? It’s so unfair.

That being said, if some sketchy looking guy with a sketchy looking suit and tie came up to me and asked my permission to make a movie off of my novel, I’d probably say yes, because a movie is basically just one big advertisement for your book. If a trailer looks good, all the book-snobs watching it will think to themselves, “Quick, I need to read the book before this comes out. This way I could complain about how disappointing the movie is.”

Even better would be a book-to-TV adaptation, like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Speaking of which, HBO really needs to write a mini-series for The Stand, by Stephen King. Just saying, I think it’d work out well.

Sorry if this post is a bit scattered.

Now click on the links below for the rest of the blog chain!

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28th – – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.

*I saw a guy do this once. It was amazing.