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Playlists for MG Novels?

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So, 95% of my YA writer friends have either put together a playlist for their YA WIP or listen to certain songs while they write (in order to capture a specific mood, so they say).  Music has always had a profound influence in my own life, so this playlist idea sounds like a great idea....

...except I write MG.  And not the kind of MG that would work well with the kind of music I normally listen to. 

In fact, sometimes circus music would be the best fit for the kind of mood I am recreating most days.


Do you write MG and have a playlist?  I want to hear all about it!  What kind of music do you listen to?   Or can you even listen to music when you write MG?  Does the genre you are writing affect your music-listening ability?  I have been fascinated by this playlist idea and would love to know if/how you MGers have stolen it from the YA people and made it your own.  :onlyslightlykidding :wink

:popcorn <===This is me settling in to hear what all y'all have to say about this topic.  And...go!
#1 - July 08, 2013, 04:54 PM

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Fun question!

When I wrote my MG, I listened to nothing but The Ink Spots Greatest Hits:

It had to be on super low, cause of making words and getting blurry eared and all. But there is an older couple in the book, and their 'thing' was dancing together. On a baseball field. During the 5th inning, when the groundskeeper was raking it. The man was the groundskeeper. So this is what I imagined them dancing to, and it was hugely important to my MC, so this playlist helped me get into that tonal range.

Even now, listening to some of these tracks again throws me right there! Love this!  :fireworks
#2 - July 08, 2013, 04:59 PM

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I write in silence and always have. But recently I critiqued a historical novel and the whole time my mind was singing, "I've got a mule, her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal." So I think MG can have a playlist, but for me it would either have to fit my book's mood or time period, or it would have to be music the characters listen to, or play. It wouldn't be about my personal taste in music, but about what would fit my characters and their world, contemporary or historical.

I may be wrong, but I suspect writers who write to music might be the same people who did their homework to music. And I think working to "noise" is not a brand-new, but is a fairly new, trend.
#3 - July 08, 2013, 05:03 PM
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I don't have a playlist per se, but I have a song that puts me right into the story. I have an unusual working title for my book, and this song uses a similar unusual word and has a similar "story" in one verse of the song, so it puts me right in the mood. I've actually put a the verse that applies to my story on my first page for inspiration purposes as well (obviously won't stay there, but I like it there for now and read it before I get started). The weird thing is that I know it is not an MG word and that the title will need to change, but it works well for now.

I cannot work in silence -- I do way too much daydreaming and mind-wandering and way too little working in the silence. I need background noise to "block out" to concentrate :).
#4 - July 08, 2013, 05:44 PM

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So far I've only been working on one MG novel, but I have had a definite soundtrack for it, consisting of the soundtracks from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the soundtrack to an iOS game I did the artwork for called Lost Cities. My novel is a clockpunk/steampunk-inspired fantasy, so those soundtracks completely capture the adventurous feel I'm going for.

I don't usually listen to music while writing though, but I would often listen to those soundtracks while driving in the car and thinking about my story, so they gave me a lot of inspiration for plotting and outlining.
#5 - July 08, 2013, 07:19 PM

I'm a YA writer, but I have been working on an MG and it has a playlist just like my YA novels, that fits the atmosphere of the place where its set and the time.

I do think it feels a little LESS important to me with MG, though, because music wasn't really that important to me until I was a teenager and I don't think about my MG characters hearing the music and having FEELINGS the way I sometimes do with YA playlists...
#6 - July 08, 2013, 08:38 PM
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You know, I was just thinking there was a difference between YA and MG with the music. I can't write to music at all (not even wordless--I get too distracted), but like Anthony, I like listening say, in the car to get me in the mood and thinking. Had a great playlist for the YA I wrote, and then went back to a MG to revise, and...nothing! My MC is simply not a music person. It's MG so it's not angsty, and the kid simply doesn't like music like an older kid would, and any music at all feels intrusive. The most appropriate music I could possibly think of might be one of those annoying songs that people sing, alternate words to a real song you might sing in music class or something. Not a "real" song on the radio. I realize that's my specific character, but the whole genre feels different, too...
#7 - July 09, 2013, 07:03 AM

I don't really write new words to music, but I do edit and write revisions with a playlist--and I'm all MG, not YA.  Of course, I'm a bit "upper MG"--about 10-14.

To me, it doesn't matter at all that teenagers tend to be more music oriented than "tween" kids, but that may be because of the music I listen to.  I don't typically listen to cool, new, popular music or rock all that much--probably most people would call my taste kind of lame (I wouldn't, because it's my taste!  So it's the best!  Hee hee).  In my mind, my choice of an "oldie" or adult contemporary or New Wave or a Broadway show or a classical piece is because I'm trying to set *my own mood* as I revise, not because I think my character would just love that song (or have even ever heard it).

If I'm working on an emotional part, I might choose film scores from emotional movies.  If I'm working on a fun-and-games hi-jinks type section, I might choose pop songs with a really happy, nonsensical tone.  I might choose "themed" songs based on the content of my book (suppose they were on a train or something, I'd find a bunch of train-oriented music--instrumental, vocal, etc.).  I may choose songs whose words are like a poem about my character, or someone very like my character.  One book, I wrote almost entirely to Christmas carols because that was what it was about, in part.  And no, I didn't get sick of them, even after months.  I love Christmas music!

You should give it a try and find what works for you. 
#8 - July 09, 2013, 07:34 AM

I do think it feels a little LESS important to me with MG, though, because music wasn't really that important to me until I was a teenager and I don't think about my MG characters hearing the music and having FEELINGS the way I sometimes do with YA playlists...

Yes! This. When I'm writing YA, my music tends to be stuff that my main character might relate to at some point in her story (or would if she lived in our world). When I'm writing MG, it's mostly just movie soundtracks to help set the mood for me.
#9 - July 09, 2013, 08:19 AM

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I do have play lists for my two mg novels .. but I don't listen to them while I write. I might listen to them while doing some pre-writing thing --- outlining, note-taking, drawing maps or diagrams.

On rare occasions I can write to music, and I choose things that pertain to the manuscript.

I just don't like the idea of having to go out and BUY tunes for a particular manuscript.

#10 - July 10, 2013, 12:35 PM
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Soundtracks! For MG, listen to movie soundtracks. Get your favorite movie, or a movie that's within the scope of your writing, and play it. WORKS WONDERS. There are tons of children's movies out there to choose from too!
#11 - July 19, 2013, 04:31 PM

 :lalala:  I definitely use soundtracks for my MG work ... and they have to be keyed emotionally to whats happening in the scenes and seasons I'm writing in.  Current WIP has a winter theme and since I'm surrounded by palm trees in 90 degree heat, that soundtrack is essential to put me "in the moment".
#12 - July 19, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Yes, I have a playlist. I usually listen before writing. I choose the music to reflect the mood or the setting of the scene. If I've been away from my manuscript for a while, I'll listen to the whole playlist to get my head back to the right era. (I'm writing an historical novel.)
#13 - July 20, 2013, 08:05 AM

Barb  :owl



That is a very good idea.  Why hadn't I thought of that?

Thanks for all the info here, everyone.  I'm learning so much!
#14 - July 22, 2013, 01:59 PM

Taurean Watkins

I started listening to music while I write a couple years ago and I
Because things get loud and crazy where I live, music (or listening to podcasts) is often necessary for me to block out distractions when I write.

I LOVE making playlists for my books, and I mostly write middle grade fiction, so it doesn't have to be a YA/NA/Adult author thing.

It's more common for music to matter in YA, but I think most people of any age have music that speaks to them. It makes drafting more fun.

A lot of my stories I write to Jazz music, and some characters have their own "Unofficial Theme."

But I try to match characters to certain styles fo music and/or songs when possible.

My debut MG novel (pub. date not known to me, but I'm working on edits for my publisher now)

My protagonist music style is Classical with light emphasis on broadway showtunes.

My antagonist music style is Jazz, and a lot of his scenes I listen to jazz music for.

For my current WIP, the playlist is a mixture of Classical Baroque, Celtic, Latin, and Chamber Music
#15 - July 28, 2013, 10:33 AM


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