How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing

Welcome back to our journey from Book Idea to Money in the Bank! So far we have covered (1) the vital and exciting Step of fantasizing your idea into life inside your mind (2) the importance of outlining your idea and everything you need in that outline (3) and finally we examined the actual act of writing in all its glorious and dirty detail. Today let’s discover the Soundtrack to your Writing.

As I’m sure you know, music can be motivating. The right song can make you feel invincible or full of ambition. Where it concerns writing, music is especially important; tracking down the right tunes and sounds help to place you in the proper motivated mindset. Certain tracks and genres can even enhance a scene if you listen to them while writing.


Some literary artists swear by their Enya or Meditation music; a number claim that only ocean sounds work for them; a few writers praise the focusing power of techno or alternative; still others swear by absolute silence—or by the natural sounds of the world.

J.K. Rowling created the world of Harry Potter inside a busy café (The Elephant House), as British baristas slung java and patrons groaned over their busy schedules. It seems incredible to me that anyone could write anything worthwhile in a crowded place. Probably it will remain a mystery to me. But it sure worked for her. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Here we are interested in extolling the virtues of discovering the right soundtrack for your novel writing experience.

So, onward and upward, my fellow travelers.

Music can drown out distractions from the world around the writer, so that she can focus on the world inside. The right music can enhance a scene as it is being written. According to PSYBLOG, listening to music boosts your verbal IQ—a clear benefit for any writer trying to get her point across. (Astute writers read their work aloud, as they know that verbalizing reveals awkward dialogue and poorly structured phrasing.)


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Enhance Your Writing by Reading Poetry

Edgar Allan Poe provides this lovely line from his poem Tamerlane:

I have no words—alas!—to tell

The loveliness of loving well

I read this passage the other night, while I stood alone, left to my devices and imaginings. Its irony and beauty struck me. How true and ironic it is that we writers have no words to express our truest passion.

We sit at our keyboards and tap out line after line. Our vocabularies are exemplary, better than most, in fact. And yet, we never seem able to squeeze out that last exquisite bit of beauty we so nobly wish to share with the world.

Does anyone know how lovely it is to be able to express our emotions in the written word, in the careful crafting of worlds and cities and gathering rooms, and in the gratifying creation of fictional people? Can anyone who reads our work ever truly grasp the depth of emotion, the soul-baring range of life we strive to imbue into those white screens and onto those white pages?

Even if they can, they will still fail to grasp the utter ineptitude we feel at times.

We have the ability, the skill, the words and the wisdom to express just about every facet of human sentiment; but even the greatest among us do not have the words—alas!—to tell the loveliness in loving well the worlds in which we live, inside our own minds. And their creation is not merely our passion—it is our love affair with the unknown, with the unknowable worlds which never were.

Forgive me for waxing poetic. That is what happens when you read Poe late at night, when you stand pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…

My point here is that, as many great writers and advice givers have written, it is in an author’s interest to add poetry to his or her daily reading selections.

At writingforward, Melissa Donovan shares an excellent article about the virtues of poetry, and how it helps writers enhance their writing.

Of all those who earn their living or hope to earn their living through the compilation of written words, no one agonizes more over their word-choice than poets. No one possesses a firmer grasp of the rhythm and flow of ‘narrative’ than do poets. Are you a novelist? Read Poe, or Lawrence, or Whitman or Eliot. They will teach you—in so many words—how to master the subtle art of rhythm.

(Obviously, we are not speaking of rhyme; rhyming in a novel is perhaps the truest mark of an amateur.)

Have you ever read a certain writer (Janet Fitch, Laini Taylor, for example) whose writing seems to flow? Their rhythm and cadence, their perfect selection and placement of words seem exquisitely balanced, poetic even. You can tell these authors are well-read. No doubt their reading habits are diverse and extensive.

Diversity is a wonderful thing. Diversity in your reading habits will help improve your writing—I guarantee it!

Smartblogger offers many excellent points and writing tips, including the value of reading poetry. Check it out here, if you like.


The Winds of Winter: Expectations and Epic Fantasy

While most book launches from best-selling authors are looked on with anticipation and are built up with hype, few have been on the hype waiting list longer than George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter.

The great fantasist has been working on the sixth installment to the Song of Ice and Fire series for over seven years.

(According to Totally Reliable Internet Theorists, Martin has actually been working on it, though many dispute this claim. Flavorwire reports that Martin has been too busy working on a collection of Tyrion quips, titled The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister—among other equally useful endeavors—to be bothered finishing the book his fans want. By the way, that report was made four years ago.)

Though already something of a cult classic, the SOIAF series exploded into viral-levels of fame with the phenomenal success of its HBO adaptation, the more aptly named Game of Thrones. From magazine covers to extended literary works set in Westeros, the epic fantasy has truly become larger than life.

With each episode costing nearly $10 million, and the ratings for each season increasing, there seems no end to the popularity of this series.

Tourism has increased by as much as 40% in the locations where Game of Thrones is shot! The show Supernatural even took the time to have its main characters sit down and watch Game of Thrones (I love the scene where Sam says he doesn’t want to watch the later seasons until he has read all the books; and his brother Dean mocks him for that, saying: Why read the books? That’s stupid.)

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that as of the fifth season, events in the show have (inevitably) passed beyond events and scenes in the books.

So the big question is: Can any book live up to such a crazy level of hype?

You’re right, the question is fundamentally flawed. Readers know that the greatness or crapiness of TV series and movie adaptations don’t have a hope of holding a candle to their book sources. It is very rare (though not unheard of) for movies and shows to surpass their book sources in quality and interest.

The question then becomes: can The Winds of Winter match the greatness of its book predecessors?

Consider this: George R.R. Martin has spent more time writing (or not writing—depending on who you ask) the sixth book of the SOIAF series than on any of the previous books in the series. The first book, A Game of Thrones, won awards when it was published in 1996—though it wasn’t a bestseller until fifteen years later in 2011. Hmm, that’s the same year the HBO hit came out. Coincidence? I think not.

Consider this: he’s been writing the series for more than twenty years, it’s a good bet his skills have improved, though I can’t find anything amiss with the first book, writing-wise, that would require a honing of his writing chops. In most cases (here’s looking at you, Stephen King) writers tend to improve over time.

Consider this: George Martin has had the benefit of working with two extraordinary scriptwriters and producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have taken his vision and shown it to the world on the small screen. Benioff is himself an excellent novelist!

They say company rubs off on you. Well, Martin has been keeping some good company in the years that The Winds of Winter has been in production.

Whichever face the coin falls on, you can bet Winds of Winter will become an instant bestseller. It doesn’t matter if the spoilers have been spoiled, or if it follows the pattern of the previous two books in their meandering narratives, where a lot of people die but little progress is made.

If any book can live up to the hype, it is the epic fantasy written by the modern master of epic fantasies. You just have to wonder, if the hype just keeps building, whether he works on the book or not, does George R.R. Martin even feel compelled to finish this unfinished work? Does he even have to finish it? Why not let someone else take over, if he’s too busy writing a superhero anthology with his writing buddies?

Whenever it does come out, The Winds of Winter will break the charts, win awards, and make a rich man even richer. Hmm, perhaps hype isn’t so great after all.

But I’m still going to get the book when it comes out.