Manuscript Playlists

All right. So, have you ever had it were you’re working on one WIP, but you have three other concepts just begging for your attention? I mean, it’s like having three kids tugging at your sleeves, trying to drag you in totally different directions. All the while you’re trying to focus at the task at hand.

Not wanting to squash any of these budding ideas, I decided to pay a little attention to each. So, I spent the time to give each their own playlist, just as I did for Death Island and the WIP I’m currently working on.

Now, when I work on a playlist, I focus on making it like a soundtrack for a movie. This means using mostly instrumental scores from movies and traditional music such as Celtic and placing them in the exact order of events during the plot line. I may even include a character theme song at the end (like what you would hear during the credits).

Over the past few days, I was able to complete the entire playlist for Hawk, a very strong heroine who traumatic past has enabled her to become stronger and to protect those she loves. This young-adult concept is my youngest idea and is farther down on my ‘to write’ list, but I found myself inspired. I used scores from Ever After, Inception, Treasure Planet, Peter Pan, and Medicine Man (Does anyone remember Medicine Man – with Sean Connery? Good Movie!).  I even found an inspiring theme song for her: Hunter by Dido.

The next oldest idea is Sam, she is another young-adult heroine who doesn’t know her strength until she is finally put to the test. I haven’t completed her playlist just yet, but I find myself drawn to Transformers, Inception, Medicine Man, and Ever After so far. These are not in concrete, though. However, she does have a theme song as well: One Girl Revolution by Superchick.

The third hardly has a playlist right now, but has the advantage of being the oldest idea and is somewhat linked to the WIP I’m currently working on. Because of this link, it will be next in line after my WIP is complete (I’ve even started a journal and I’m currently writing random scenes). Though I’m not quite sure what tracks to use yet, its playlist will probably contain mostly Pirates of the Caribbean 2, 3, and – when released – 4 as well as some James Galway and other Celtic pieces.

As you can tell, my selection in scores tends to be heavy on Hans Zimmer. I love his work! I even have the original Cool Running score. True it only has two tracks by him, but still. He is just so diverse in his work – Pirates, Inception, Angles and Demons, King Arthur. The list just goes on!

I love music! It takes you deeper into the imagination and just gives life to whole other worlds. How about you? Do you create playlists for your novels?

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9 thoughts on “Manuscript Playlists

  1. I have a playlist too. Music puts me in the right frame of mind. I love for that reason. They play similar music so I don;t have to waste time putting together a cd or selcting music on itunes. Just click and go. Right now I am into emotional moody music – John Meyer/ Mika Cole to give me the right tone for my H/h and their emotional tug of hearts.


  2. I love “Hunter” by Dido. Didn’t Hans Zimmer do the Gladiator soundtrack too? That’s a great one. Have you thought about putting a playlist on your blog at


  3. I’ve made playlists for quite a few titles, but not all of them. I don’t listen to music when I write, but I find listening to the playlists while driving a great way to generate ideas for new stories and to get in the mindset of the story! Fun topic!


  4. I love getting insights into how other writers’ minds work! Your ideas all sound so intriguing, Kelsey. I listened to One Girl Revolution–what great energy!

    I have a friend who is finishing up graduate work at NYU in film scoring. He also writes novels and does just what you do–always uses soundtrack music for inspiration.


    1. Wow. I never really thought about my process in creating a list was until now. I think the best tidbit I could suggest is just listen to the albums you currently have (maybe start with your favorite artists) and let your mind sort of drift – this is how I start. The track will usually just draw me into my writing if it’s the right one, playing the scene and tone just as I had pictured it. Then just drag the song into the playlist and arrange them in the order of your choice. For songs with lyrics, I generally just match the personality of my characters, but some of my friends match the mood they are trying to portray like romantic scenes.
      Hope this helps!


  5. I love your post! Truly, truly LOVE it! I write the exact same way. I have a playlist I had cultivated over time for my first book The Necklace, which ran through the whole project, scene by scene. If I listen to the playlist today, I’m brought back to the very instant of when I was writing the scenes. It’s pretty incredible, to say the least.

    Also, since you mentioned Celtic music as being an influence…have you tried Ashley MacIsaac’s “Hi, How Are You Today?” or Natalie MacMaster’s “In My Hands”? Quite extraordinary for Celtic! Then there’s Enya, whose music is so haunting it brings shivers up my spine and Riverdance…the ultimate in Celtic dance music!

    Anyway, thanks for the post…it was just awesome and I’m looking forward future posts!


    1. I love Enya’s song ‘Sail Away’, but I have never heard Ashley MacIsaac or Natalie MacMaster’s. I have to try them. Thanks fo the suggestions!


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