Thursday, March 15, 2012

Character and their songs

I know I'm not the only one who's confessed to picking "theme songs" for particular characters. Well, "picking" is a strong term for it -- they notify me that a song is important to them, and I try to figure out why.

I mention this because I just got reminded of one of the oddest of these. It happens every time the song comes up on my iTunes.

Shen's a character in my science fiction. In non-universe slang, he's a freelance infiltration specialist with some demolitions and security on the side. He's internalized enough military-style discipline to keep from being the loose cannon that his past predisposed him to be. He does not do any of the following: play acoustic guitar, sing, or get mushy about women. He's not an "easy listening" music kind of guy, either.

But every time Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown" comes up on iTunes, Shen pulls out that guitar, puts his feet up on the spaceship's dashboard, and starts singing along. And I know he's thinking of Lena as he does it -- not that the song describes her accurately at all. (Satin dress? Is this a scene I don't know about yet?)

I like that my characters can surprise me, though. I think it's important. Sometimes they tell me a story twist that solves a problem or creates a problem that improves everything. I took this song as a sign that Shen wasn't all tough-guy-badass all the time... which was good. I don't know if Lena would have stuck around him if he never opened up about anything.

To go in the other direction and tie into what I'm currently working on -- revising Part III of my fantasy -- this remix of Korn's "Make Me Bad" has always invoked Prince Kiefan's dark side. He keeps his anger buried pretty deep, and he's got a little berserker in there too when the battlefield gets rough... and being a bit of a hopeless romantic (relatively speaking) he sees Kate as his ray of light in the darkness.

(heh, and then YouTube distracted me with Korn videos... Korn and Skrillex? ooh, gimme dat...)

 What hints did an odd choice of song give you about one of your characters?


Bluestocking said...

I've never done this. I do try to listen to them and make their reactions/motivations sound in the story context, but don't go all extracurricular about it. But for characters that are hard to write...I could see how having a song could really help anchor you when writing them, getting you into their mindset, if it's a character that's particularly troublesome. Oh who am I kidding. All characters can be troublesome at different times :)

V. Furnas said...

I am with Bluestocking, I never tried this either. I think my mc in my wip would jam out to Johnny Cash.

Love that. Looking forward to reading more of your post.

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