by Rachael Acks
I quite literally cannot write without music playing in the background. Normally, I gravitate toward instrumental pieces, since I find words distracting if I'm writing. (Though not always, and that's a topic for an entirely different blog post.) Half the fun is picking pieces that fit the mood of what I'm writing, and I've found movie soundtracks are great for this. The content of the movie doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it.
So here are ten great movie soundtracks for writing. I've cheated and combined series into one item so that I could give you a better selection.
1. Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows - These are my go-to scores for when I'm writing anything remotely steampunk. The movies themselves have some lovely gonzo steampunk elements, and it comes through in the music with its piano and cimbalom-driven insanity. The Game of Shadows score has a constant, clockwork ticking in several of the tracks that's quite perfect.
2. Transformers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - While I can't say I really cared much for any of these movies, the soundtracks are among my favorite. They're perfect for blood-pounding action sequences and you are thankfully not required to write in slow motion, or include explosions unless you really want them.
3. Inception - So much of this soundtrack feels thoughtful and dreamlike to me; it's perfect for writing introspection, dream sequences, and anything faintly creepy and/or mysterious.
4. Thor - This soundtrack goes back and forth from fantastic heroism to dark, vengeful angst so quickly it'll give you whiplash.
5. Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence - Both of these soundtracks are utterly haunting. There are heavily synthetic elements in keeping with the very cyberpunk feel of the movies, but what holds the music together is Japanese min'you (traditional singing).
6. Gladiator - Truly, there is no better track for a battle scene than the ten minute epic titled, appropriately enough, The Battle. The brass is suitably brutal and makes the entire piece feel unstoppable.
7. Henry V (1989) - While Henry V is a historical play, the music is perfect for a lot of second world fantasy, whether you're writing or even reading to it. And just try to listen to the St. Crispin's Day track and not write a rousing, heroic speech. I dare you.
8. Pirates of the Caribbean - If you have a story that requires swash to be buckled, this is the place to go. The soundtracks for the following movies are all right as well, if I recall, but it's probably telling that I don't own them.
9. Serenity and Firefly - These soundtracks have it all, as far as I'm concerned. Some tracks have delicious Western influence, some are pure scifi. I love them for anything with a twangy guitar.
10. Sunshine - I'd daresay a lot of people are familiar with the track Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor) from this soundtrack whether they realize it or not. It's been used and re-used heavily in movie trailers, most recently (and in my opinion not really appropriately) for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It's a tense, driving, and ultimately heartbreaking piece. The rest of the soundtrack is fascinating and electronic. Much of it was improvised by the band Underworld.
Hope some of this music fuels your imagination - are there any soundtracks that you like to use to write, to read, or just imagine?
Look for Rachael's first Musa Publishing release, Murder on the Titania, releasing April 5th!
When theft turns to murder, retired Colonel Geoffrey Douglas knows only two things for certain. The Air Ship Titania carries 300 passengers and crew. And any one of them could be the murderer…
In the wake of global Infection and hard-fought wars to drive the disease out into the wilds, the survivors have slowly rebuilt a polite society that relies upon airships and steam engines to travel safely between the remaining Grand Duchies. In times of peace, old war heroes must find new ways to make themselves useful. But where there are ships, there are pirates, and darkness waits in the most unexpected places…
After years at war, retired Colonel Geoffrey Douglas tries to accustom himself to a more tame career as the Grand Duke's chief of security, but he can’t seem to let his guard down. He sees danger around every corner. Worst of all, he’s often right. And when a simple mission to deliver precious cargo for the Grand Duke goes wrong, Geoff finds himself in a race against time to find a murderer before the Air Ship Titania lands and the murderer can escape.
But there are 300 passengers and crew aboard, and the murderer could be any one of them. When Geoff discovers a second murder victim, he realizes this isn’t just a fight to prevent the murderer from escaping: it’s a desperate race to stop him from killing again.
Learn more about Rachael Acks and see her publication list on her website and follow her on Twitter.