Worldbuilding With Music

Okay, so I’ve been hard at work on my second novel. It’s another dystopian-type novel, and I decided to include a song that would have an impact on my MC as the story progresses.

But see, my society is a brainwashing society, and well, music doesn’t really fit into that very well. Which, of course, got me thinking about music and the impact it can have on a culture.

And after a lot of thought and struggling to figure out how to include this song in my book, I realized something else. I was worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding includes so much more than just city names and setting. It takes the little things, like music and food and dress and cultural things, and brings them to life so that your readers can really feel established in a world not that different—but completely different—from their own.

And so I took a few minutes (okay, hours) to really think about music and it’s role in my invented culture. I think the book will be better for it.

What do you think? Can you think of any examples where the “little things” have added another dimension to a book? For me, I’m thinking of MATCHED by Ally Condie, simply because it’s the last one I read and I really liked what she did with the Hundred Poems and the Hundred Songs and such.

And what do you think our music of today says about our culture?


Andria said...

I was thinking of Matched as I read this post and then I was like, "Hey, she's thinking of Matched, too!" I don't have any advice. I've just been thinking about this same thing, because I just read Matched and my next novel idea is dystopian. I've read dystopian before, but it wasn't until I started thinking about my own that I realized how much world-building there is. Kind of makes my head hurt.

Kelly Polark said...

I need to read Matched!

Music can definitely be in a brainwashing community.
If they want all the people to think they are happy, they only allow certain upbeat "Everything's groovy" songs. Or songs with subliminal messages.

Cassie said...

I love that you're putting music in your novel! And in my opinion, music definitely belongs in a society about mind control, if the music is from the mind controllers. It's the best way to get something stuck in your head, ya know? But it's also a good way to revolt... Haha. Power to the people! I'm gonna write a song for all the rebels to sing! :)

Carol Riggs said...

Oh yes, I think music is a great detail to use, particularly in a dystopian novel. Details definitely add dimension to a book.

In SKINNED by Robin Wasserman, some interesting details at her school included futuristic clothing, with scrolling scenes or sayings. In my recent sci-fi novel SHAPERS, I have hair dye that changes colors, and I invented specific slang words and expressions. Some writers have even made up entire languages for their world-building. Cool!