Music and Story: Setting the Tone

There are a number of authors out there who like to build music soundtracks for particular books they’re writing. I personally have yet to do this, until now. My (other) current work in progress is a crime fiction story, a rather dark, unapologetic tale of love, violence, and how personal demons can destroy. The heroine likes music. She has a secret thing for singing that nobody knows about. It’s not a big element in the story far as that goes, but it’s a character thing I like a lot, and due to the emotional makeup of this character, she likes to play music that represents how she’s feeling at any given time. If this isn’t a story to build a soundtrack to, I don’t know what is.

Like the story, this aspect is a work in progress. I keep my ear out now for things that tie back into the story or characters. I think music can be a powerful addition to story, much like in movies. As a writer, if you have something that plays to what’s in the story, it can actually effect your writing. It can be quite powerful, honestly, and I wish I had the where-with-all to do it for every book, but it’s also a fair bit of work, and I”m not one of those folks with an ipod full of music to search through. Anyway, if you’ve not tried writing to music or find it distracting, the trick is not necessarily to pick things you normally love to listen to, but to tailor them to what you’re currently writing.  Got a love song that encapsulates what’s going on between your two protags? Play it while you write. It will have an impact. Even purely instrumental works can do this.

When this story finally sees the light of day, I’ll build an actual soundtrack for it just for fun and for readers to enjoy if they so desire. In the meantime, here are two, the first being what the heroine, Rachel, plays on the way to an incident (she’s a cop) and the second speaks almost perfectly to the romance in the story, from the hero’s pov. Enjoy, and happy reading/writing everyone!


In Writing, Consistency Rules.

The mood/tone of a book can be and should be a significant consideration in any book you write. It’s a background aspect to the story that helps shape the reader experience and expectations within a story.  It’s also one of those things as a writer, where a little bit goes a long way. You don’t need to swamp the reader in it for it to have an impact. Now, while one might typically think of setting as the most likely source of material to establish this, it’s just as important to consider it in all aspects of the storytelling, from action to dialogue.

My writing style does not include a lot of description. I’m not eloquent in the details. I might go far as to say that I’m a pretty sparse writer. I rely a good deal on action and dialogue to drive my stories. As much as I love the notion of setting as character, I have not developed a knack for it. Perhaps one day I shall, but for now, I have to rely on what I already do with relative competence in order to set the mood and tone of my stories. For the type of story I write, which tend to be on the darker and grittier side, I must look at lot at what my characters say and what they to achieve this.  If one word could sum up the best way to do this, it would be consistency.

I suppose this goes without saying, but consistency is paramount to good storytelling, in all aspects of writing. A story falls apart without it. Nothing throws a reader off more than characters or plot or tone suddenly changing for no apparent reason. If your mc is a brooding, swearing, prone to violence character, you can’t have them suddenly acting all bright and bubbly. In Deadworld, the world is not a cheerful place. Bad things happen, life is a struggle, people die, and circumstance conspire to leave any sort of HEA in doubt. How the characters talk, what they do, the results of their actions, who they interact with, all need to consistently portray a world that is not a joyful place to be in (which is not to say there isn’t hope, because stories without hope are just depressing).

So, when you’re writing, pay close attention to the details of what your characters say, what they do, and how they do it. Staying consistent within this will go a long way toward keeping the tone of your story believable and the reader immersed.

Happy reading/writing  everyone!