"If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On." - William Shakespeare (Melissa Robbins)

This month, we have been discussing problems writers face. I'm going to discuss inspiration. If we want to write, we find the time and push away those fear demons.

What inspires me to sit at a computer for hours on end (besides my characters wanting to get out and me going crazy until they do)? Music. I have a playlist on my computer that plays along while I write. My husband mocks my “soundtrack” for my stories, but listening to certain songs when I'm writing helps with the emotions that go into a scene.

So here is my playlist made up of songs from movie soundtracks and swing music since my story takes place in 1940.


Page 47 – National Treasure 2, Book of Secrets - This song has that epic quality to it. I picture fighter planes flying over my heroine's head or Wren standing on that beautiful spot on the cliffs overlooking the Channel.

Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman - I can't have a playlist for a story set in 1940 without including this classic. Sure makes it easy to write a dance scene in a village hall filled with fun and forgotten cares. It starts as soon as my heroine and her friends walk through the door.

Jumpin' Jack – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – This is my hero, Jack's swing theme song. The boy loves to dance. My kids love this song and request it when we are driving in the car.

First Class – X-men: First Class – There are some amazing songs on this soundtrack. Similar tunes run through all the songs, but to me they convey so much emotion and it is sure fun to picture Jack sauntering sexily to this song.

503 – Angels and Demons – A sorrowful song; there is a war going on.

(I Would Do) Anything for You – Benny Goodman – as a former clarinet player, I'm a big fan of Benny (not that my band director let us clarinet players play any of his stuff). This song is Wren and Jack's fast theme swing song. I always found the title appropriate.

Goodnight, My Love – Benny Goodman – Wren and Jack's slow theme swing song; Jack sings it to her. My kids love this song, too. They all sing it in the car. I caught Becca (my three year old) belting the song out in the living room one day without the music playing. She could only remember two lines, but it was cute.

Kingdom Dance – Tangled – I LOVE this movie. It is my favorite Disney one. How does this song figure into my story? It has an Irish dance flair to it and I have a scene where one of my character's dad is playing his fiddle during an air raid.

Sky Battle – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – What can I say? I have Royal Air Force pilots in my story. There are one or two 'sky battles'.

X-Training – X-men: First Class – I wrote this romantic scene that Fran loves. When she asked me how I did it, I told her this song inspired me. Fran doesn't believe me. She thinks this song is more action than romantic, but to me it is one sexy song. My favorite on the list.

Rage and Serenity – X-men: First Class – Did I mention how much I like this soundtrack? This song is short, but I LOVE how it starts off quiet and gets louder and more powerful. Perfect for a kissing scene when it is so not the time for my characters to be kissing.

Forest Battle and I Claim Your Sun – Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen – I love the Transformers soundtracks. When I hear these songs, (they are pretty similar) I picture a scene from my story where my characters are first riding on motorcycles through bombed out London and then they have to run when the debris gets too bad. I haven't written that scene yet, but it's in my head.

Arrival to Earth – Transformers - Did I mention I like these soundtracks? This song is perfect for the final air raid at the end of my story. Planes, bombs, explosions, etc.

Optimus vs. Megatron – Transformers – This is beyond sad. Since I associate this song with a scene from my first story, when I see the part in the Transformers movie where this song is, I start crying.

Now We Are Free – Gladiator – This song makes me happy and sad.


Mutant and Proud – X-men: First Class – This is a kissing song. What? The title doesn't sound like it, but to me it is. This is the longer version of Rage and Serenity, when my characters have more time to kiss.

Obliviate – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1– When I hear this song, I picture several of my characters reacting individually after the previous scene. Since my story is first person, most of these scenes aren't actually in the story, but it helps me with their feelings for later. I can just feel the coldness of that train window through my skin.


I See the Light – Tangled – Such a romantic song and this is Jack's singing voice. Sigh. Wren won't be singing with him. She couldn't sing to save her life.

Something That I Want – Tangled – Just a fun song. Flynn is my favorite Disney hero and he just happens to share his name with Jack's middle name.


Silver Wings March - There is one song that hasn't made it on my actual playlist yet because my dad is still trying to figure out how to get the music onto a CD. I asked my dad to compose an Army Air Corps song reminiscence of Bell Bottom Trousers (the sweet, nice version) and he did. I have the lyrics, Shiny Silver Wings. They made it into the stories. Dad promises to sing it too.


There you have it. My Wren and Company Playlist. Maybe one of these songs will inspire you. Does music inspire you to write? Do you have songs that you like to listen to when you write? Perhaps we should say instead, "If writing be the food of love, write on!"

8 comments:

Rox Delaney said...

I love to listen to music while I write. Sometimes I share it with the cats and my daughter, but sometimes I use it to shut out the cats, my daughter, and any other noise that might pull me away. Funny how listening to music can help us stay 'in the moment,' while other sounds are distracting.

Yes, I have playlists, and often just one song that defines the story or especially one character.

BTW, love the 40s music!

Joan Vincent said...

Wonderful post--I may have to expand my listening to music when I write! I used a flamenco CD when I wrote Honour's Compromise because the hero and heroine have a couple of passionate flamenco encounters in Spain. There is a Yanni CD I like to listen to for some love scenes. I've gotten a couple of period CD's --Enchanting Harmonist A Soiree and From the Ballroom which add mood when my characters are at regency parties.

I too love the 40's music--grew up listening to it on Mom and Dad's record player.

Melissa Robbins said...

Too funny, Rox. As much as I would like to drown out my kids, they are too young for me to do that.

That's neat you have one song that defines the story or one character.

Forties music is just fun music.

Melissa Robbins said...

Joan, what a way to get into the spirit of writing. Flamenco music, that's awesome. I wondered what you Regency writers used for music.

Reese Mobley said...

I used to write to the music of my kids playing/fighting or the hubster watching tv. I can't count the number of times I'd pray for less distractions.

The kids are grown now and the distractions are different. I guess I'm just going to have to learn to write through the chaos of my life. :-)

Frances Louis said...

I wish I could write while listening to songs, but alas, I'm one of those 'it must be dead silent or I can't eek out one word on paper' kinda gals. Sure, I listen to music when I'm doing everything else (especially folding clothes) but writing time means quiet time and that explains why I don't get much writing done. ;)

Melissa Robbins said...

Reese, since my computer is in the kitchen, I've learned to write through a lot of distractions.

Fran, I used to not be able to concentrate without silence. Listening to music while studying was out of the question, but now I can't imagine writing without music. Funny, I don't listen to music when I fold clothes.

Penny Rader said...

I love the idea of a soundtrack, Melissa. I've heard several people recommend it as a way to trigger your brain that it's time to write. Thanks for sharing your playlist. I'll have to track down some of those songs.