I fell in love with fanmixes years ago. In case you’re new to the term, a fanmix is a mixtape-style playlist based upon some aspect of a world that fans love. For example, if you loved the character Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much that there were songs that made you think of her, you could make an Anya fanmix. You would share the songs that remind you of her, and include graphics that represented cover art for the mixtape and a track listing. For a clickable example, you can see my fanmix for the television show Once Upon a Time here.
Even before I knew about fanmixes, I would listen to a song and think that it expressed the perspective of a character I loved, or of a relationship between characters. Once I began imagining whole worlds within my stories, I extended that use of music to my own characters and their relationships. Often, I found that seeking songs that “fit” a character or pairing would actually help me to better understand those characters and the story that I wanted to tell.
Many things have changed since my early years of building fanmixes for my own characters. I used to choose songs from Savage Garden and Collective Soul, and now I’m more likely to borrow from Florence and the Machine or Vienna Teng. But the usefulness of creating a character soundtrack or relationship mixtape has remained the same. As I began to near the end of my story and figure out what needs to happen for a satisfying resolution, I found myself building a playlist almost without thinking about it.
It struck me very recently that I’ve now listened to “Wings” by Birdy 275 times not just because it is a great song but also because it is a perfect love song for my central couple. Giving “Wings” its own list led to the addition of others, including selections from Anberlin, A Great Big World and SHeDAISY. The songs I’m adding are for different characters and relationships in my story, as well as different points in time within my plot. But they all help me feel more tuned in to my story, and have the added benefit of being fun to listen to while I write.
Do your characters have their own songs?
Today’s word count: 2,015
Total word count: 48,126
Today’s excerpt: “I don’t have power!” Now Elle’s voice was gentle. “That’s not true. You may not be a witch, but being a Guardian requires power. And that power has been with you your entire life, because this was always your destiny. You just have to stop resisting it.”