Visual Imagery with Playlists

justine covington, book playlist, romance writingIn the McDaniel Romance Writing program, we had two assignments to help us visualize our book. One was a collage (hated it; hard to do using modern magazines to represent a story that takes place 200 years ago; I’m so not showing you what I did); the other was a playlist. I didn’t mind the playlist too much, because much of the music I like was actually “modern” for Regency England. Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach were all well-regarded composers at the time and ladies would perform their work at musicales.

It’s been over a year now since I visited my playlist for Three Proposals, but I played it yesterday and was surprised by how well my musical selections still stand up to my story, despite the massive changes I’ve made since then. In truth, about the only thing that’s the same story-wise are the character’s names!

Here’s my playlist (note: you’ll need a free Spotify account to follow the links):

Orf’s “Carmina Burana — Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: 1 O Fortuna” is what I hear when I read the very first scene of my book. Susannah has just realized her entire world is being turned upside down. The very end of the piece is when she resolves to defy her uncle, who has some not-so-nice plans for her.

Mozart’s “Sonata #8 in D Major KV311:1 Allegro con spirito” is a light, happy piece that puts me to mind of Nate and Susannah engaged in witty repartee and laughter. This is, of course, when they’re not agonizing over their supposedly unwanted attraction to each other.

Holst’s “The Planets: Mars” is how I “see” Susannah’s uncle. The music is as sinister as he is, there are arhythmic and atonal sounds, and the huge crescendos imply power.

Susannah’s romantic climax piece is Patrick Doyle’s “The Dreame” from Sense and Sensibility (starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson). She’s in love, happy, hopeful, yet still a bit unsure.

When I hear Puccini’s “La Boheme: Che gelida manina,” I see Nate realizing his true feelings for Susannah. This is an amazing piece of music and if you’ve never seen La Boheme you really must.

Beethoven’s “Symphony #9: IV Ode to Joy” (chorus at end) is Nate and Susannah’s Happily Ever After. The piece begins with conflict, then you slowly begin to hear that HEA melody, quietly at first, almost as if Susannah is hopeful that she will have an HEA (of course she does, but it doesn’t seem that way to her). Then she sees Nate — he proposes, big chorus. Tears, triumph. This is one of my most favorite pieces of music. Beethoven was a genius. Even more so given that he wrote this when he was completely deaf.

Lastly is this piece: Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. When I created my original playlist, Nate’s triplet sisters, Juliana, Jessica, and Jeanne didn’t yet exist. However, I had a lot of fun writing them in the subsequent drafts, and I look forward to creating stories for each of them in the future, but I imagine this is what Nate thinks when the three of them are together (particularly if they’re ganging up on him).

Do you use a playlist when you write? What sort of music inspires you? Classical? Country? Contemporary?

2 thoughts on “Visual Imagery with Playlists

  1. Harliqueen

    I can’t listen to music when I write, but I love the idea of using a playlist to inspire me through a story, grabbing songs that suit the book. Like a soundtrack. What a great idea 🙂 Some lovely songs for Three Proposals.

    1. Justine Post author

      Thank you! The only music I can listen to when I write is classical, and even then, I’m pretty picky. I created a playlist for writing…lots of Mozart…that works a lot like the Pavlovian bell…when I hear it, I’m ready to write. I do the same thing when I go to sleep. As soon as my sleep music comes on, my body shuts down.


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