Nita: Soundtrack and Arc

I’ve finally got Nita’s soundtrack down and realized that I soundtrack in acts and arcs, too.  The first pass (discovery soundtrack?) is just songs that seem to fit, not sure where or why, so there are usually a couple of dozen.  But the more I zero in on the characters and the plot, the more songs fall off the list, and I start looking at what’s left in terms of character and plot arc.

The character themes at the beginning have stayed the same because they really reflected the characters; Lenka’s “Trouble is a Friend” for Nita, and Chesney’s “Demons” for Nick (which always cracks me up because Chesney’s song is a metaphor that reflects Nick’s reality: “When I’m not chasing demons, I’ve got demons chasing me”).  But by Act Four I needed stronger songs because the stakes were so much higher.  One of the great things about the Lenka and Chesney songs is that they’re low key, the characters acknowledging that they’ve got conflicts but nothing that they can’t handle.  By the end, they’re passionate about each other and willing to risk everything to defeat the antagonist.  And I had those, too; Nick gets Fleetwood Mac’s “Bleed to Love Her” and Nita gets the Kills’ “Future Starts Slow.”  And then the resolution is basically my Universal Happy Ending song, Hiatt’s “That’s What Love Can Do,” because it’s so laidback and happy and about a stable situation.  If a book moves from stability to stability (my books do), the the soundtrack should do the same, starting low key, rising in intensity and the ending with a button to evoke that HEA and stability again.

All of which is to say, soundtracks help me a lot when I’m writing.  And even though I’ve done several digital collages for Nita, I really think I need a paper and found object one, too, so maybe next week while Krissie’s here we’ll get out the scissors and glue.   In the meantime, here’s the revised soundtrack by acts:

Lenka: Trouble is a Friend
Kenny Chesney: Demons

Sara Bareilles: King of Anything
Fall Out Boy: Alone Together
She & Him: Together
Lake Street Diva: Godawful Things

KT Tunstall: Ashes
Ella Henderson: Ghost
Pretenders: Human

Fleetwood Mac: Bleed to Love Her
The Kills: Future Starts Slow

John Hiatt: What Love Can Do

12 thoughts on “Nita: Soundtrack and Arc

  1. Hmmm. Would exposure to a wide selection of artists and music make for easier song choices?

    Or are you more likely to stick to artists that you know and pick for the theme?

    1. You know, it’s pretty much random. Lyrics are important, it’s more mood first, then lyrics, trying to capture where the character is at the point in time. I’m not really a music person, not like Krissie who’s encyclopedic, so for me it’s just part of discovery and then helping figure out the arcs. The music itself is secondary, the way the collages are not art. It’s the journey, not the end product.

      ETA: Just realized I didn’t answer your question directly. I don’t care where the music comes from, much the way I don’t care where the images and found objects in the collages come from. I do internet searches for both processes and just take what seems to work. I don’t mine my iTunes library although I’ve reused songs before–“What Love Can Do” is pretty much a universal Crusie resolution song because it’s about a calm, stable, happy relationship. I should go back and see what songs I re-use besides that one. My heroines are pretty much always angry so there’s probably some overlap there.

        1. After your comment, I went back and looked at the soundtrack and three of those songs came out after 2011 (when the book is set). As long as I don’t actually put them in the book, I’m good, but I really try to stick close to the time period of the story because music is so reflective of where a society is. Unless a character has a good reason for listening to something out of the book’s time, like Sophie and her family with Dusty Springfield because her mother loved Dusty. Very hard to explain listening to music that won’t be out for another three years. I don’t do time travel.

  2. It is one of the things I love about the rhythm of your writing! I too have different soundtracks when I paint and its funny to see afterwards when I have concluded the series, I have usually one song as a constant but it usually differs as a whole with each project.

    1. To this day, whenever I hear “I Only Want To Be With You,” I think of Sophy and Phin. There are soundtracks I forget, but that one I remember. And all the girl groups from Faking It. The song that had the most impact on Maybe This Time wasn’t on the soundtrack because the book took place before the song came out. It was the song that Andie sang to Alice and I had to switch it out for “Baby Mine,” another good one, when I changed the time period of the book. But the original one was much better for Andie and Alice: “Nine Million Bicycles.” I should have know the romance in that book was the subplot when the major musical motif was between a surrogate mother and daughter.

      I can’t remember most of them. That’s awful.

  3. I love the discussions about what people use as their soundtracks for writing and creativity. I have soundtracks for anything I write, and it really helps me get into the head space. Discovering Halsey’s music recently really helped me get into a particularly difficult heroine’s mind.

    I also came across Raise Hell by Dorothy, which made me think of Nita.

  4. I love doing soundtracks for my nonsense. Almost every story has at least one strongly-associated song … a few things are actually titled from songs. DH got me an iPod a decade ago and it lives in my car, so anytime I go anywhere I am listening to some of the 1600 songs on it (always a jump start for the brain).

    My nonsense references a lot of music in the text and boy it can be tricky sometimes (that whole ‘was that song out at the time this thing is set’ problem) but on the other hand the internet is SUPER SUPER HELPFUL about playlists. I have discovered some truly kick-ass music on the way to filling out a story’s soundtrack.

    And will, no doubt, very shortly go and give a listen to the Nita soundtrack because there is a good chance some of that will end up in my MP3 cart.

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