Monday, 17 January 2011

"Little Death" Writing Playlist

Two years ago, as a belated Christmas gift to my best friend and housemate Adele, I wrote a novella entitled Sex and the Cemetery.  It was written specifically with her tastes in mind, and fell somewhere between Bram Stoker and Bridget Jones.  Recently, out of morbid curiosity, I dusted off a copy and read it again.

It was truly, undeniably awful.  The central theme, that of doomed romance between a vampire and a human, was hardly original.

But something in me remembered how much I enjoyed writing it.  So I've taken it upon myself to re-vamp (if you'll pardon the pun) the entire story, under the new working title "Little Death".  This has involved completely jettisoning a werewolf plot line because it was boring to write, and therefore probably boring to read.  The vampire love story has been almost entirely eradicated, leaving space for another character to take centre stage.

I could never really get under the skin of a four-hundred year old female vampire, quite understandably.  So I have opted for a younger, male voice to tell the story.  Eli.  An artist with a real thirst for life and other, less conventional appetites.  The folklore of the incubus, a seductive dream demon, is now central to the plot.

And with this in mind, I've composed a writing playlist.  I can never read while listening to music, as it screws with my concentration, but when writing I find the right song can help me connect with a character.

When I sat down to write my first chapter, the following tunes helped me bring Eli to life and set the tone for this Gothic tale.

"Cosmic Love" - Florence and the Machine
"Hurricane" - 30 Seconds To Mars
"Invisible Light" - Scissor Sisters
"XXXO" - M.I.A.
"Better Than Love" - Hurts
"Heart Skipped A Beat" - The xx
"Majesty" - Warpaint
"Guilty" - Marina and the Diamonds
"Lovegame" - Lady Gaga (Robots to Mars Remix)
"Under The Sheets" - Ellie Goulding
"Rolling In The Deep" - Adele
"Alejandro" - Lady Gaga (Sound of Arrows Remix)
"Howl" - Florence and the Machine

What do you guys listen to while writing?  Or do you prefer a cloistered, monastic silence?

I should probably get back to actually writing the book, so I'll be off now.  Just felt like sharing.

P. x


  1. Awesome playlist. Will have to compile what I already have and run it through as noted. A song can be good...but put it in the right playlist and it can be friggin awesome. ^_^

    Totally agree with you. When writing, certain music can totally act as a facilitator.

    As for the notion of listening to music whilst reading...I'm rarely able to do that. Now, my brain just keeps wanting to pay attention to the music, leading me to read the same sentence over and over. ^_^ The only reading-music combo I can remember was when I listened to Dvorak's New World Symphony...over and over and over. And I think I was reading the Twilight books at that time (yeah. I dunno. ^_^).

    But silence isn't necessary, either. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable to have some generic white noise....a busy street or crowded cafe, for instance.

    Good luck with your writing!!! I hope to one day read the work that resulted from the music!

  2. Philip Ellis!

    I appealed you one night randomly not long ago from my fictionpress account about writers block. You replied wicked fast and I never thanked you for the extremely useful-sounding (I say sounding because I haven't yet used it, but have been recently browsing through possible works for rewrites) advice you gave.

    So thank you! I had (just now. literally ten minutes ago) found the piece i want to rework, when I clicked on a random post from your archive (this one). I realize this is probably the example you were giving me in your e-mail. I have to agree with the post above me - awesome playlist. I'm a big fan of florence + the machine, and MIA.

    I have a lot of issues harnessing a writer-friendly noise-level. Music is usually pretty distracting for me because I get too caught up trying to sing along to the lyrics. I appreciate bookstore or nottoobusy coffee shop levels of noise, BUT I can (at least initially) work pretty well listening to music that's pretty new to my library. Then I don't have to deal with the possibility of me already having memorized the lyrics and the melody. Much less distracting.

    Also when I was in high school I wrote a short essay for a class about writing to music, and how for some odd reason the song Blinded by Third Eye Blind was strangely helpful when I was writing a specific collection of vignettes. so that's my only declared writing song as of yet.

    So yes, I just wanted to say Thank You, and Hello! My cousin and I have just created a joint livejournal, though there's nothing actually posted yet (we both previously were using fictionpress). Also your recommended reads made me grin, as I do every time I see someone reading Time Travelers Wife or Harry Potter. Not to mention the other awesome books up there.