Should We Use Music In Our Fiction?

Diary of a Newbie Novelist

This week I have been researching different background tunes for a scene in my current work in progress, the sequel to An Unfamiliar Murder. I need to find an album that is generally well known, atmospheric and melancholic in places, with resounding lyrics; but also upbeat in others. A tall order…

It led me to consider how important music is in our fiction, and whether indeed we should we use it all? Some might argue that music dates a novel, which it inevitably does, but I think there are few novels out there that don’t date already themselves in some way. If you’d written a book in the early 90’s, you’d be unlikely to mention the internet, people didn’t have mobile phones clung to their ears, folk could still smoke cigarettes in restaurants…

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6 thoughts on “Should We Use Music In Our Fiction?

  1. IMHO 😉 music adds a bit of atmosphere and lends mood toward the author’s intentions in any given scene. As for dating a novel, you’re right. All works date themselves in some form. All you can do is ensure that the music you pick crosses boundaries socially so that your work is considered an iconic pillar of your time. As for music to use? Haven’t a clue LOL!

  2. Nothing wrong with giving a little time and place feel to your writing. Is there a particular genre of music the characters are into? Are they going through a specific difficulty?

    • Hey Jason! Thanks for stopping by. My scene has a melancholic feel with a soft undertone of sexual tension, so I am looking for an album that combines these elements. A tall order:)

  3. Interesting topic, Jane. I’ve seen it done very well and very badly. I think music in books has to blend well with the character and scene. I think handled correctly it adds substance to the character. Two of my crime fiction favourites add dimensions to their characters. Ian Rankin’s Rebus is a big Rolling Stones fan and Ian has incorporated their work in his titles (Beggars’ Banquet, Let it Bleed) and Mark Billingham’s DI Thorne loves Country music. I’ve used a little in my short stories (maudlin teenager listening to Echo & the Bunnymen!) . If handled right it definitely adds something.

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