Character Playlists and Character Music

Back when I used Apple products and my decently-sized music library was all in one place, I wondered what sort of music my main cast of SAAF would listen to and I created playlists to try and tease the answer out. Was it the same kind of music I listened to when I wrote their part or their scenes? Or were there differences?

I decided to revisit this question as I’m trying to ramp up work on SAAF again, and I thought I would share my findings here.

DawnFire: Our protagonist, Dawn, is a passionate teen weighed down by problems she should never have had to carry. Frustrated by her inability to affect the world around her (as much as she would like to, at least), she often struggles with pent-up anger that she turns toward any injustice she finds.

Dawn is a POV character. When writing from her point of view, I almost exclusively listen to Evanescence. Dawn also strikes me as a person who would prefer alternative rock music and some of the more angsty, teen-focused music along those lines. She likes the low chords that she can feel vibrating through her when she turns the music up a little too high. She likes to feel like a bad-ass when listening to her tunes because she often feels so powerless in her daily life.

SkyFire: Our secondary protagonist, Sky faces an uncertain and likely bleak future due to the power that she shares with Dawn (and all the people who want it) and the fact that she lives in a society that views her as dangerous because of her disability. She must decide whether she will meet these challenges and those who would persecute her (and Dawn) with force or with diplomacy.

Sky is the second POV character (of two). When writing her chapters, I’ll often listen to similar music as I would with Dawn, but I’ll find songs with less angst and more self-determination (less Weight of the World and more Call Me When Your Sober). Sky’s will to succeed shines through her music. She would listen to all of the same bands as Dawn but she would also find comfort in music of a more inspirational nature, that might help her reconcile the world she lives in. She’d probably listen to more mainstream popular music in addition to alternative rock as her main choices.

Interestingly, the main difference between Dawn’s and Sky’s music choices (the streak of more inspirational/determined song choices on Sky’s part) helps highlight how they approach their problems. Sky is often more take-charge and she has more leadership qualities than Dawn, who might prefer to be a foot soldier–taking orders instead of giving them. Their music choices reflect this. See, this exercise can be useful!

Chakran: I have no idea what music Chak would listen to. He’s probably more of a talk radio kind of guy.

Adam: This is a teenage boy who would definitely prefer R&B. The combination of funk, blues, soul, hip&hop, etc. in this genre would provide the perfect musical outlet for Adam Ward.

Mriah: I haven’t introduced Mriah here yet, but Mriah is a woman who plays an important role in the story. Her character is stern and unyielding, with a clear sense of right and wrong. I love the idea of this meticulous and withdrawn character spending her free time listening to soundtracks from various musicals–especially comedies. It will never ever come up in the book, but this gives me a little bit of insight into Mriah’s personality when she isn’t “on screen” in the story.

I’ll talk a little more next week about how I use music to get into The Zone for my own writing and how those choices differ depending on what I’m working on that day.

Cheers!

Author: JA Goodsell

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is INNATE, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @JAGoodsell or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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