I can’t write without music. I know, zero surprise. But I can’t.
The first step in my writing process (after the initial idea, of course) is building a writing playlist. For those who don’t work this way, it may seem like a diversion. “Shouldn’t you be outlining? Developing character studies? Doing research?” Yes, yes I should be doing all of these things. In fact, I am doing them while choosing the playlist.
I write cinematically, for lack of better term. Every scene plays out in my head like a film. My morning commutes are often spent with my eyes closed, picturing my characters and letting things unfold–winding them up and watching them go. Every great film has a perfect score and/or soundtrack.
In building a playlist, I am defining my characters. What music do they like? Do they care about music, or is it another distraction in our digital world? Do they have anthems? What is the main mood of each one? Music defines that. Music also shapes the tone of the story. Is it dark and gritty? Brooding with a slow build? Is it frenetic or playful? Choosing the music that will accompany me through a lengthy process sets the vibe of the project.
Once the first raw draft is on the virtual page, I then set out to create the soundtrack. Writing playlists are usually 200+ songs deep–unwieldy beasts meant for a shuffle. The soundtrack, which I share on a book’s details page,are the songs that are directly referenced by characters or set the particular vibe of each chapter. They’re the core of the characters and their journey. Sometimes, my favourite songs to write a project to have no set place in the final soundtrack. Sometimes, I endlessly repeat them to get that draft done. Either way, the soundtrack is distilled to the critical pieces for the next step: revisions.
All of this is to say that my new project, codename WTZ, is entering revisions now, and I’m very excited. Taking a few months away from the story has given me new insights into scenes that felt rough or incomplete on first go. It’s also given me time to hammer out the soundtrack for the journey.
So, what does a team of security guards groove to while slaying zombies and dealing with demanding corporate lawyers? Take a spin below and find out!