Writing thoughts: background music

More often than not, I listen to music while writing. The choices might be quite diverse at some point. In this post I’ll share some of my choices (generally speaking, not naming songs).

To battle!

I think quite the easiest choice is when writing combat scenes in the story. Being into metal music, this is exactly what I need. The speed and force of some pieces are perfect for writing a battle scene, though it has one significant risk: if I know the song very well, it might distract me a bit and slow me down as I hum along (I can’t call it singing). Many times, I’ll go directly to songs that are about battles, for which almost anything by Sabaton does its job well enough. If I want something with at least some fantasy themes, I go for HammerFall.

And if I just want something else and I don’t mind it not being about battles, then anything of my favourites will do the job.

Lick your wounds

Okay, I am exaggerating it. What I mean by this is the part that deals with what comes after the battle, whether it is taking away the captured or anything else. For that, I often use slightly metal songs slower than in the first case, but still quite fast. The same often goes for the stages where some planning goes on, when the strategy is decided.

If it’s a scene where the result is quite harsh or outright sad/tragic, then I tend to use darker music, mostly Gothic metal (Sirenia is perfect for that), going to very slow and dark ones in case someone fought his or her last battle.

And if there’s a reason to celebrate, then folk or folk-metal works well.

Calm before the storm

I think my choices grow the most diverse when writing the calmer passages. Of course the story can’t be just one battle after another, there are times when the characters look for clues, try to find something that would help them defeat their enemies, explore forgotten lands and unearth ancient mysteries…

And these are the parts where many different kinds of music can work. I often tend to listen to film soundtracks or their mashups, usually just finding a long one on Youtube so I am not disturbed by needing to alt-tab and choose the next piece. In the latest cases, it was Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers music.

Lover’s touch

Lastly, passages when characters get intimate. It does not necessarily need to be explicit scene, just one character hitting on its crush. Quite predictable I presume, but any slower song will do, though I have pretty much three categories of songs for this: slow metal songs, folk songs (there’s a lot of campfire songs that are fitting for that) and of course film music does well.

Now I will mention a specific one: the song Davy Jones plays with his tentacles. Not the only piece of good film music for this kind of scenes, but one of the best examples. And for metal ones: HammerFall – Always will be.


I guess those are the main four scenarios. My choices for music are similar, even if limited by my iPod’s capacity, when I am out there hiking and meanwhile thinking about the story, mostly the parts that will be written next.

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