Make Your Own Novel Soundtrack

I'm a music writer. I need melody and words and beats to make good words. (I don't actually make words. Just so we're clear.)

I touched on this whole music/writing spiel back in February, when I wrote about what songs I listen to when writing action scenes. This post is going to be a little different. Playlists are a great tool to evoke emotion when you're writing. But I'll do you one better. When you make your own novel soundtrack, you not only have a great writing tool, but an exercise in theme, characterization and plot. 

OKAY. So let's talk about how to make your novel soundtrack. How do you know what songs to pick? Which ones make the cut?


This is my main reason for my song choices. For instance, when I listen to "The One I Love" by Greg Laswell, I can hear my character Simon saying those words. Sometimes, lyrics remind me of a place in the book or a theme that runs through it. Try these tricks:

  1. Pick based on lyrics that represent your characters' voicesBonus? Create a playlist for each character.
  2. Pick based on lyrics that honor a theme in your book. For example, loneliness or coming-of-age.
  3. Pick based on lyrics that reflect your setting. If you're writing a story based in Ireland, try listening to some songs by Irish artists.


I like to vary my song choice. Some songs are more upbeat, while others are mellow and moody. Arrange songs in a way that mirrors the rise and fall of your story. Essentially, you're making your own little plot line. Here's an example for you:

"The Rain" is an upbeat song, but foreshadows some relationship problems. The next song, "over you" is the aftermath of that, and slows the story down. "Heartbreak World" compliments this new shift.


Music makes you feel things, just like words do. Sometimes, I choose songs just because they musical arrangement mimics the  feel of the book. Most of my songs are because of the music/lyric combination, but I love the sound of "Let's Be Still" by The Head and The Heart.


I put together my playlist in Spotify, which I recommend. Another amazing resource is 8tracks. Share your soundtrack with your followers, and share it on your blog. It's important to give your readers something to connect with, something to draw them even further into your story, especially when they're still waiting for it to be published. You can learn more about my novel here.

Okay, without further ado, here's my novel soundtrack. There's also a link to my Spotify playlist, if you happen to be a user!


1. This is Your Life by Switchfoot  2. Dead Hearts by Stars 3. Heartbreak Warfare by John Mayer 4. The Rain by Benji Davis Project 5. Over You (feat. A Great Big World) by Ingrid Michaelson 6. Heartbreak World by Matt Nathanson 7. All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye by John Mayer 8. Missing You by Tyler Hilton 9. Gravity by Sara Bareilles 10. Sugar, We're Goin Down by Fall Out Boy 11. Dragging You Around (feat. Sia) by Greg Laswell 12. Wish You Were Here by Incubus 13. When It Rains by Paramore 14. Hearts Like Ours by The Naked And Famous 15. Let's Be Still by The Head And The Heart 16. Breathe by Taylor Swift, Colbie Caillat 17. Hometown Glory by Adele 18. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been by Relient K 19. Something Beautiful by NEEDTOBREATHE 20. Stars by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals 21. Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer 22. The Last Time by Taylor Swift, Gary Lightbody 23. The One I Love by Greg Laswell 24. High by Young Rising Sons 25. Scene Four - Don't You Ever Forget About Me by Sleeping With Sirens 26. It All Starts Now by Foreign Slippers

Discussion Time: What would be on your novel soundtrack? Comment below!