I’m sure we’ve all watched a movie or read a book one time or another that was just bad. I have read a few that have left me with a serious case of W.T.F. Maybe the director or writer is to blame. But, sometimes, as much as someone is to blame, no one is. It could be that the creator really didn’t understand and explore the complexities of their characters. They treated them too much like creations, making them less relatable and inauthentic. The relationship between the characters feels forced, the emotional scenes are cheesy and cliché, the acting is as believable as a donkey parading around as a stallion, and everything is just wrong. There really isn’t any need to continue watching or reading. Verdict: FAIL!
No one wants to create something that horrendous, so how do we avoid it? My advice: don’t fake the funk. Readers can tell when an author is trying too hard. This post is to help bring the emotion and authenticity into your writing without it feeling forced. One of my many ways of doing this is through music. It positively oozes authenticity and raw emotion. Tapping into those feelings and applying them to your characters will bring a realness to them, especially in emotional scenes.
I challenge everyone to create a 12 song playlist that relates to their characters and explain the significance behind each one, sort of like commentary. I hope you will share your playlist either on your blog or here. I’m all about leading by example, so here is my playlist:
1) Dance With the Devil by Breaking Benjamin
There’s a reserved danger and disgust and anger about this song that I use to fuel Sage’s (the main character of my novel Split) feelings towards Marcus, the obsessive antagonist who is fighting tooth and nail to possess her as both a weapon and a lover. It’s the feeling of fighting back for Sage and trying not be afraid at the same time.
2) Diary of Jane by Breaking Benjamin
To me, I get more of an internal struggle when I listen to this song which is absolutely perfect for my novel. Sage is battling outward struggles while dealing with a crazed split personality nagging in her brain and dealing with the crimes she didn’t commit. Not to mention trying to escape the clutches of Marcus. There’s a desperation that shows me how Sage feels.
3) Sweet Sacrifice by Evanescence
I love the roughness and urgency I feel from this song, as well as the sense of fear which Sage is feeling when she discovers her alter-ego. It’s a matter of dealing with her issues and her sanity when it has all been compromised. Part of the lyrics sounds like that alter-ego pestering Sage from the inside, and the other sounds like Sage trying to reassure herself.
4) Pieces by RED
This song is filled with longing and a bit of desperation for someone or something. Sage feels this as she tries to fix all that she’s broken, hoping someone can help her piece it all back together. And then there’s the love interest, who appears later in the book, who comes and does just that.
5) Let Go by RED
Anger is all I feel from this song! Sage battles through all the hurt she’s been experiencing and announces, as the lyrics say, she doesn’t want to be afraid and run away, which is why she will fight against Marcus and anyone else who threatens her or her family. She demands he let go. There’s a sense of freedom and liberation towards the end that’s uplifting for me.
6) I Hate Everything About by Three Days Grace
This is a self-explanatory song, lol. Sage hates him (Marcus) after what he’s done.
7) Never Too Late by Three Days Grace
I see things from both Sage’s perspective as well as her godmother, Lucinda. At the beginning of my novel, Sage struggles with being hunted and attempts to commit suicide. Lucinda is at a loss after this and wants to assure Sage it will be okay. It’s just really emotional for the both of them.
8) Because of You by Kelly Clarkson
This is a departure from the alternative rock sound I use to portray my edginess, but the vulnerability and hurt and anger this song shows really sums up how Sage feels about her parents.
9) Cold (But I’m Still Here) by Evans Blue
This is a song I use to really understand Marcus. He’s a truly disturbed individual. It really shows how he has twisted feelings for Sage, and his insatiable need to have her. The darkness and control is creepy and haunting, yet attractive at the same time if that makes sense.
10) What Have You Done by Within Temptation
This song more so depicts the relationship between Marcus and Sage’s alter-ego. At first the two have a love and need for one another which soon turns into a need to hurt one another. Both of them long to be close to Sage, but neither is willing to give her up for the other. It’s a very complicated relationship to say the least. It’s like being in a love triangle with you, your spit personality, and the man you hate.
11) Forgiven by Within Temptation
Really shows Lucinda’s state of mind when trying to forgive Sage for her many mistakes and help her overcome her issues.
12) Without You by Breaking Benjamin
This is a song I really believe brings Sage and her alter-ego to mutuality, of understanding one another and coming together to succeed in a common goal that benefits them both.