Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday - The Permanent Playlist

If you're anything like me, you have probably a dozen different writing playlists for various projects. I have one for Maywitch, I have more than one for Rising From the Sand, and I have my Kanako Itou playlist that I throw on whenever I'm bored of the other playlists.

But for the sake of argument, let's say you can only have 10 songs on your new, permanent writing playlist. What songs would they be, and why?

Hint: Don't just look at your current favorites on Spotify. I've found that my most consistent go-to writing playlists have been mostly comprised of songs I've loved for years. Something about the feelings and memories associated with those songs allows me to plunge right into writing, without the urge to get up and dance or Google "when is Lady Gaga coming out with her next album" or whatever.

1. Kimi to Yozora to Sakamichi to (With You, the Night Sky, and the Hill Road) - Kanako Itou
It's a bittersweet, upbeat pop-rock song about companionship and moving forward! I like including songs that aren't in English on my playlists because they're less distracting, I think. (I mean, I speak enough Japanese that this song is still sometimes distracting, but that's partly because it's just so good.) This song makes me think of characters who are easygoing and loving, but are thrown into unfortunate circumstances and just want to protect the people they love.

2. aLIEz - SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]
Another song that's not entirely in English, but this time without the upbeat pop-rock sounds. It's angsty, dramatic and perfect for emotional fight scenes. It's also great for when I'm drafting chapters of Maywitch that kill off characters.

3. The Mother We Share - CHVRCHES
A song that's ambiguously about love or companionship! This song always makes me think of Wynette and Laris in Rising From the Sand, especially as I keep truckin' along on the sequel. It's hopeful but raw, with awesome undertones of girl power and loyalty.

4. Pray to God - Calvin Harris & HAIM
For some reason, this song always makes me think of characters ascending their past selves and rising to meet a challenge. I always interpret this song as being about fear, at its core, and about the motivations that make people overcome their fears. It's a kickass theme song for Wynette, and it's the first song on the writing playlist for the sequel to Rising From the Sand.

5. Starring Role - Marina and the Diamonds
The romantic angst song! Perfect for unsatisfied female leads as they search for love! Hell, I like to hear this song when I'm writing any scene with any kind of tension or discordant relationships. Independent women, bitter ex-lovers, control freaks - this is potentially an anthem for so many characters, whether they're a protagonist or not.

6. I Don't Want to Be Here Anymore - Rise Against
This one is dedicated to every author who has ever written a character who was unhappy with their life! (So... almost all of us.) This song actually doesn't fit Maywitch or RftS that well; I actually added it to the big ol' writing playlist when I was working on another fantasy work. It works well for scenes where the main character has a life-changing choice to make, and scenes where someone has major regrets.

7. Desire - Meg Myers
Look, every author who writes sexytimes needs at least one sexytimes anthem on their playlist. I like this one because it's not all about the male gaze. Enough said.

8. One Headlight - Relient K
I like Relient K's cover more than the original. It's slightly less depressing, but has that angsty-with-determined-undertones mood I like to imbue in some of my scenes. It's about someone who's lost everything and is ready to give up, but still looks for "an opening somewhere here in front of me, through this maze of ugliness and greed." Isn't that the kind of protagonist we relate to most? Of course, I hope most of our stories have happier endings than this song.

9. Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
I think this is a more upbeat, romantic counterpart to #6. This song is for the optimistic heroine that's ready to chase after whatever glimmers in front of her. (I need to write more of those.)

10. Destination Unknown - Marietta
Okay, you guys are gonna think I'm a huge nerd for including this, but hear me out: It's an epic, mildly angsty song about being a thrill-seeker and having to start over again. Isn't it perfect for most of us action/adventure writers, regardless of specific genre?

As a bonus, I've included one of my usual writing playlists below. It's mostly from various soundtracks and such, and has a few songs in Japanese, but none in English (because they sometimes distract me a little!) Happy writing!

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