Does music ever throw your plot off the deep end?

Here I am, writing, and U2’s song “Wire” comes across the speakers…
I love this song. So much energy –– almost driving urgency in it. Like horses running…
So the character who is supposed to be staying in one place to do his job? Yeah, he’s currently riding horseback cross-country to do some fact-checking on some news he heard.

Does music ever shift your plot in unexpected ways?

2 Likes

I have to be careful about what I listen to when I write. Whatever the music’s mood is shows up in my novel. I try to pick a song or album that matches the feel of the scene.

2 Likes

I always end up making playlists for my stories - I start working on them before November, one for the story as a whole as I think it’ll be about, maybe additional playlists for some specific characters (main characters, villains, rivals), and something for the overall mood(s) I want, and then I edit throughout the month when something doesn’t fit or I go in another direction and add other music that works with that. Last year’s murder mystery had a very different set of playlists than 2017’s urban mystery with fairies.

… so to answer your question, yes, definitely. xD I find that carelessly putting on just any music, or a playlist I’ve made with different connotations for me, it can spin my brain very quickly in a direction I didn’t intend the story or characters to take. If I’d tried to write that murder mystery with my 2017 playlist, it would’ve definitely ended up more supernatural in nature, and the protagonist, depending on which character playlist I’d listen to, would’ve been either a lot more careful or significantly less so.

On the other hand - since I make a lot of playlists like this on a regular basis for particular themes, characters, moods, ships, stories, and whatever other fancy throws me at any given time, some of them can be loosely recycled. I have plenty of villain playlists to start me off for this year’s villain’s playlist, as long as I have even just a loose idea of what kind of villain they’re going to be. It comes in handy for the skeletons of new story lists, even if I inevitably associate some songs too strongly with a particular character or story eventually to use it for a new one!

That said, one more thing - I also find that while the wrong music can throw me off track, that’s a weakness I can exploit when I run out of ideas or get stuck somewhere. I can always put on a completely irrelevant playlist or even the radio while making dinner and hope it’ll inspire another turn of events. :wink:

3 Likes

Oh boy does it ever. I was listening to some nice softer pop music one day while writing and when something with more energy came up on my list I found one of my characters deciding to go horseback riding right in the middle of a fitting for a gown just as a real rain storm started up. And she couldn’t be stopped by anyone so three of her best friends decided to go with her and they had so much fun together.
It didn’t seem to necessarily sidetrack the plot but at the time it did boost my word count. I left it in.

3 Likes

Here’s my problem: I have a few designated writing playlists. But. I end up using a lot of the same music on each one, and I start to get bored of a playlist. I also don’t have a lot of time for creating playlists, so I really have to need one to create it…
Yet… You are right –– the “throw the plot off the rails” music can break up a writer’s block in a jiffy.

This is brilliant!!!

Yes! This always happens to me…but, to be honest, that’s part of the reason why I listen to music while I write. (If it wasn’t so late right now, I would try to think of some examples where the music shaped my plot. If I think of any, I’ll come back later and share!)

1 Like

Not writing at the moment but I listen to music to plan too and. I had a set of songs set up for certain scenes cuz they seemed to fit.
Upon relistening to them the characters keep claiming the songs. That were definitely not for them. Like no guardian! That song was for the main character and how she felt about having to leave you! Not how you felt about losing Abby, fighting with your brothers, and taking Abigail in only for her to leave. Why?
Then the song that was meant for Abigail and Kaitlyn was claimed by the four horsemen. Then I mADE A JOKE about the NEXT song being Erebus’s because it mentions doing something in the 1600s. And. It. Was. Claimed by him.
Why?
And now Raven is stealing Neptune from Abigail. Give that sad depressing song back to your sister Raven!!!
And of course the main freaking villain had to steal the song for the final battle and victory for the hero. I mean at least it kinda makes sense but Rainus.
This last hour has me been screaming at my side characters to “PUT THAT THING BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM OR SO HELP ME!” (So help me, so help me-)

1 Like

I can’t listen to any stuff with lyrics when I’m writing, and sometimes I find instrumental music distracting as well. As such, a lot of the time I just write in silence. But I sure do love to come up with a soundtrack for my novel to listen to while I’m plotting or doing other things!

2 Likes

I feel like I’m that weird person that does listen to lyrics while writing. I love it when there’s a song that perfectly matches the m o o d. Looking at you Scarlet Pimpernel soundtrack

Or, I like to find instrumentals of certain songs. Chandelier wasn’t written in the 18th century, but the Vitamin String Orchestra cover of it makes it seem more so.

I don’t know if my music throws the plot, but maybe that’s because I’m a planner. I know that a few songs influenced plot choices for me, though.

1 Like

Words can distract me, but not always.

But instrumental isn’t always the solution for me. For example, you would think I would be inspired by the LOTR soundtrack, but my problem is that my brain ties the story of the movies so much to the music, that I can’t hear it without picturing the actual scenes in the movie –– which makes it hard to write. That’s probably the only soundtrack that does that to me, though.

And some music brings back memories (good or bad), which is distracting.

3 Likes

This happens to me all the time. Doesn’t even have to be the lyrics that leads to me throwing a bit of a twist into the original idea, just the change in tempo of an instrumental song can throw an idea in my head that I feel like I have to include in the story. This is part of why I spend so much time putting a playlist together based on an general plot idea before I actually start really writing. Gives the music a chance to inspire scenes and such along the way rather than having it inspire something unexpected that might not really fit when I’m already knee deep into the story.

1 Like