Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Your Character has... A Playlist in Their Head

This is a series of posts that I'm writing leading up to my presentation covering Character Development at the Scribes of Lancaster meeting on Monday the 13th of September, 2010. Which is tomorrow, by the way.

So Your Character has... A Playlist in Their Head

Sorry, about missing the post yesterday, but I'll make up for it today and try to get two postings on here today.

Music usually plays an important role in most people's lives, and can say a lot about a person. You can also apply musical tastes to your characters. Maybe they only listen to gospel, or listen to gospel on Sundays and rap during the week. I'm thinking about that duality of zoning out to booty shaking videos on BET one night and waking up to find some fire and brimstone preacher on there at six in the morning, or whatever time that was. Maybe they're a classical music elitist snob. Or, is there a kind of stereotypically dense metal head in your cast of characters? Someone who subscribes to a lifestyle commonly associated with political punk? Is your protagonist a 1920's communist who believes that folk music is the true music of the people. Is your villain the "rockabilly devil"?
Oh, wait that's one of my villains.

So it goes, I like to use playlists when developing characters. It can also help to listen to these playlists when writing mostly about a particular character. I usually make my playlists on YouTube, but you could use an mp3 player, or any media player or iTunes. There are a few ways of sorting these lists:

1st Method:
Select songs that you think your character would listen to. Simple enough right?

2nd Method:
Select songs that fit that characters for particular scenes that they are involved in, or songs that describe their relationships with other characters.

3rd Method:
Playlists can be used to create a feel for the whole story and can help you condition yourself to work on a particular story. Music on, brain prepared to focus on that story. A conditioned response kind of like Pavlov's dogs, but less drooling hopefully.

So, I previously mentioned the process for naming my character Alistair and this is his playlist, you can draw your own inferences from this, but this is an example.

This is a story playlist. This one is for a short story involving Alistair and the so-called "rockabilly devil" villain, so I picked songs that each individual character may be into, but also songs that go along with different scenes in the short story.

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