D.L. Koontz

Do You Cue the Music in Your Writing?

CueTheMusicI love music. It’s arguably the biggest benefit of movies over books (and the only benefit, in my opinion).

No one could argue the power that music adds to the moment when Sylvester Stallone charges up those Philadelphia steps in the 1976 movie, Rocky.

Or, how about the magic of the running scenes in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire?

Or, imagine the frightening, freakish Phantom of the Opera securing our sympathy without first singing Music of the Night. (And, yes, I confess to having seen the Broadway version three times…and if you want to hear his amazing high note, scroll to about 3:10 on the video.)

Music can make your heart swell, your pulse race, your eyes cloud with tears.  In short, it creates a mood(If you clicked on any of the links above, then you’ll know what I mean.)

I wish we could add music prompts in our novels. Wouldn’t it be great to list songs at key locations telling people what to listen to while reading a particular chapter or passage? It would be especially effective when characters are dancing or sneaking through a creepy house.

But, that’s not an option, and probably would be a nightmare regarding copyright.

So my next-best solution?  I try to add that theme song feeling for readers by way of description, and I thought you might enjoy playing with the concept too.

In my soon-to-come novel, Into the Mystic, (pub: March 2014) my protagonist Grace moves into an estate she inherits from her step-father. In the house, she encounters a ghost and finds him so beguiling that she begins to suspect he is a demon in disguise.

Therefore, the mood must be creepy. Now, take a second and imagine the spooky music you’d hear were this a movie. How can you best relay that mood via description, as Grace rounds a curve in her car and sees the estate for the first time?

How about this:

The house loomed like a dark, gray mass, crouched into the curve of a hill, a hulking presence set amidst weeds and wildness. Made of stone, it looked strong, heavy, almost vile, as though the walls were there merely to encase the darkness within.

Can you hear the sinister music in your mind?

Or, what if I were writing a light-hearted romp? I might say this:

Grace eyed the massive stone house and wondered how in the world she’d ever manage to heat and clean the monstrosity. And those hills! Sure, she could stand to lose a few pounds, but who wanted to walk up and down those steep inclines to pull all those weeds?  No wonder pioneer women were so thin.

Or, if I were writing a romance:

Grace’s heart swelled at the majesty of the house: its size more than ample for a large family, its large porch inviting outdoor meals; its setting perfect for snowfalls when children matched a toboggan with steep slopes. Her eyes misted. She was home, and this is where she and Clay would build a life together.

Take note: That’s all the same house and the same gal, just different “music.”

And do be sure to listen to the music associated with my book trailer, found here (then scroll): Into the Mystic. Do you think it sets a mood?

What do you do to cue the music in your writing?


photo: bigstockphoto.com



10 thoughts on “Do You Cue the Music in Your Writing?”

    1. So grateful for the gifts of musicians. I’ve always wished that I hadn’t quit piano lessons in the 6th grade! But I couldn’t handle my teacher whacking my hands with a ruler when I made a mistake. Not nice … not nice at all!


      1. Karen, I sure wish I’d given my piano more time too. And, sometimes I wished I’d gone to Nashville to college there, to study music composition and song writing. Wouldn’t that be fun?


  1. I agree–the descriptive details always set the moods in our writing projects, no matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction. In my memoirs, I try to recall the sensory details of every scenes. This also triggers the memories that might be hiding in the shadows. Great reminder about the power of our descriptions in our writing! Btw, can’t wait to read your book! Awesome book trailer.


  2. Great post, Debra. I haven’t crossed over to writing fiction (yet!) but I always play music – instrumental, no words – while writing. It is a powerful motivator, no doubt.


Add new comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s