While occasionally the level of concentration required to write anything even half-intelligible can make silence a golden state of affairs, more often than not I find that in order to get into a particular mood to write a certain kind of scene, the right music really helps. I wrote much of my novel Certainty in endless thrall to the following:
1. Prelude To War by Bear McCreary, from the Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST
This is, in my opinion, the single finest piece of music ever composed for episodic television. The rises, falls, careful pacing and sheer excitement of this tune informed the direction of my novel’s biggest setpiece. I had this on repeat for AGES, and it helped me to absolutely hammer the shit out of what first seemed to be a chapter that was impossibly difficult to write.
2. Bim Bam Smash by John Powell, from The Bourne Supremacy OST
The Bourne Supremacy’s climactic car chase is almost certainly the best of the past decade or more, and this thrilling music adds so much to it. It builds and builds and builds, until the edge of your seat can barely take any more. No wonder, then, that this track was used heavily as inspiration while writing my own vehicular mayhem.
3. Surprise Attack by James Horner, from the Star Trek II OST
Yes, James Horner may rip himself off pretty relentlessly these days, but back in the 80s he was an astonishingly good composer. The Star Trek II soundtrack was a staple diet for me while writing Certainty, bringing as it does a fantastic mixture of suspense and action cues, creating exactly the right general mood on many occasions.
4. To The Roof by John Powell, from the Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Supremacy soundtrack did a lot for me overall while writing particular chapters. This track helped me to demonstrate the new drive and determination of my novel’s main protagonist. It’s a score I never tire of listening to.
5. Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead, from the album Kid A
It’s no secret that Radiohead are my favourite band by a country mile. In getting to the right place (no pun intended) for the opening section of the novel, the album Kid A was a useful marker. The soundtrack of something not quite right with the world, this often minimalist and understated album allowed me to get into the head of Sebastian’s former life and the unease that awaits him at the trigger point which starts the novel proper.
While it won’t work for everyone, for me music is an essential part of the writing process, a short cut into the moods, textures and emotions that I want to get down on the page. The right piece of music at the right time really can bring that intangible extra “something” to the thought process, and I can’t imagine writing to silence any time soon.