My Favorite Music for Speculative Fiction Writing

I don’t know about you other writers out there, but I need music to write. Especially during that first draft frenzy, I need that “soundtrack” to give drive and rhythm to the words spilling out via my fingers onto the screen.  Sometimes, it’s one song on a continuous loop; others, it’s a few select songs that share a certain mood; and yet others, it’s a whole darn playlist, each song chosen because it so perfectly fits an aspect of plot or character.

I’ve written a few types of speculative fiction books so far – time travel, futuristic post-apoc, near-future biopunk – and it seems like the same songs are appearing on two or more playlist. That means they’re GREAT speculative fiction-writing songs.

I thought it’d be fun to share my go-to soundtrack builders with you, talk a bit about their mood, and then you can leave your most-used or favorite tunes in the comments below. Good? Good.

Wake Up – Arcade Fire (This is when the kids in your spec fic inevitably realized that the system is corrupt and they feel like they’ve grown up with that realization. Happens in every. Stinking. One.

Demons – Imagine Dragons (Great if one of the biggest struggles your character has to overcome is within herself.)

A Thousand Years – Christina Perri (A love song, mostly for Time Travel and immortals, because, you know – a thousand years.  But oh my heck is this a gorgeous song.)

Us Against the World – Coldplay (This is a song for when your characters have decided to face down a huge threat together. It’s a quiet song about partnership and solidarity, and sticking it to the man.)

Meteor Shower – Owl City (Not for the lyrics, necessarily, though for ONE they’re totally apropos. But I just think this song sounds like soaring hope. I love it.)

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons (This is THE SONG for apocalyptic books. Totally freaky and powerful.)

Oh! Gravity – Switchfoot (Good for any flying, spaceships and superheroes alike.)

Supermassive Black Hole – Muse (Good for fight scenes or anything involving particularly awesome tech, and/or cunning plan-hatching of any sort)

Below My Feet – Mumford and Sons (A prayerful, somewhat triumphant song, awesome for a story’s denouement, especially after some hard-won battle.)

Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran (Come on, now. Your book has kissing in it, right? Put this one on your list. You can thank me later.)

Okay, fellow speculative fiction writers! What are your go-to songs to match what you write?

Leigh Ann Kopans is May's Affiliate Blogger. To find out more about our guest author positions here at the League, click here.

Raised on comic books and classic novels, Leigh Ann developed an early love of science fiction and literature. As an adult, she rediscovered her love for not only reading, but also writing the types of fiction that enchanted her as a teen. Her debut novel, ONE, is about a girl with only half a superpower, the boy who makes her fly, and her struggle to make herself whole.

Leigh Ann, her husband, and four children live in Columbus, Ohio. When she’s not immersed in the world of fiction, you can find her obsessing over the latest superhero movie or using her kids as an excuse to go out for ice cream (again.)

Twitter: @LeighAnnKopans




by Leigh Ann Kopans

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.
It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.


chihuahuazero said...

When I saw the headline, I KNEW you were going to put "Radioactive" on the list. That song is so post-apocalyptic and flexible.

Joshua David Bellin, Sci-Fi Author said...

I love "Radioactive" (and a couple other songs on your list), but my brain just can't handle any kind of distraction when I'm writing--and I find music distracting, especially if it has lyrics. So I write in silence, only the clicking of the keyboard providing the rhythm of the words.

Matthew A.J. Anderson said...

I am more fond of tragic characters, so I prefer the sadder, darker songs. "Crying in the Rain" by A-ha; "Hurt" by Johnny Cash; "Love the Way you Lie" by Skylar Gray.
But for SF fiction in particular, I like Owl City (most of the discography, really. It's all so floaty and spacey) but that's for ideas. For writing, I like to listen to music without lyrics, or my "ambient rain" mp3 file (I like to write when it rains, I still haven't figured out exactly why).