Last month I wrote to you about characters having music identities.  This month I thought we’d look at the different ways writers use music.  Here’s what I came up with. Do you have others?

Music note with solid fill Setting – which includes the time period as well as location.  What does your character hear?  Gospel music?  Disco? Opera?  

Sometimes music can change a character. Did you see the movie Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon?  In one scene, as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, she meets a young boy and his grandmother. The boy sings Red River Valley to her. It’s his gift to her and powerfully done.  Here are the lyrics:

From this valley they say you are going,
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while.

So come sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy that has loved you so true.

Music with solid fill Off-duty – that’s when I listen to music.  Last week I went with some friends to hear Danielle Ponder.  Outdoor concerts in the summer are the best. 

Music note outline New ideas can come while you listen.  Maybe to the vibe of the music. Wagner anyone?  Or the lyrics.  I had that experience when I first began thinking about my art thriller trilogy.  In the play Chicago, the song My Own Best Friendhas this line, “I play in a game where I make the rules.”  That stuck with me. I began thinking about what that would look like. No rules, except your own. Emma Kelly was born. 

Music notation with solid fill Go into a private space.  Many writers listen to music while they write. I’m not one of them. I need silence or white noise. I’m writing this at Panera’s. The background noise works for me. 

I’ll leave you with a fun clip to thank you for reading (and maybe replying.)  Click here and enjoy!

All the best,




  1. Loved the clip, Lane. Though I do love opera and country and folk, I’m not much of a music person. When I’m writing everything fades into the background so I don’t hear music or conversations.

    And outdoor concerts mean bugs, mosquitoes. Yuk. Not for me.

  2. Great clip. I forgot what a good singer Ann Margaret was. All books have a soundtrack, a playlist i make that captures the mood of that book, and I play it ad nauseum while I’m writing. But always instrumental. I can’t have other words in my head and am so jealous of writers like you who can work in a Panera!

  3. Loved that clip, one I’d never seen. Music has always been part of my life, from playing piano to multiple choirs. When I was 12 it was my fervent desire to be Julie Andrews!

    I made music important to Trudy Genova, all different kinds from book 1. We will learn in bk 3 it was her father whose murder she’s trying to solve who was a big influence on her music choices.

    I’m the opposite of you: I put on headphones and listen to music to hide household noise, usually classical or light jazz, but none with singing—or I tend to sing along! I try to match the music to enhance the mood of the scene I’m writing, too. Happy, peppy, or active might get French bistro music. And for feeling sad or emotional there’s nothing quite like the dramatic Albinoni Adagio to set the mood.

  4. Yes, music is always at the core of my books, even if only just for me. But the songs feel so obvious to me that I can’t tell anyone what they are because it seems it will give away the plot! I’m sure that’s not REALLY the case, but I can’t shake it. I’ve had plenty of aha moments at concerts, too. And sometimes I watch music videos to get in the writing mood. 🙂

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