I am one of those people who always writes to music. I never, never write without music playing. In fact, I’m listening to music right now. I actually listen to music pretty much constantly. I guess I just like life having a soundtrack. Like I live in a musical.

Anywho.

I generally listen to movie soundtracks when I write, but let me tell you, there is a science to this. You can’t just pop in any old soundtrack (which, we don’t really “pop” music in anymore, except you might be able to if you still buy CD’s like me because I’m Old Fashioned™ ).

Whenever I sit down to write, I choose my music very specifically, depending on the weather, time of day, story, and my mood. But mostly the story. Which is why I sometimes end up listening to the same thing every day for months. It’s fine.

So here is a grand catalogue of soundtracks (some that I listen to a lot, some I don’t), and all their “moods”.

(I’m honestly just obsessed with soundtracks, so all I can do is hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I do).

The Lord of the Rings

You’re feeling cocky. You feel confident that your story is an absolute masterpiece that will leave readers emotionally wrecked in the wake of its glory. (Which is why, though I love this soundtrack, I generally don’t write to it, except Two Towers, which is a lot more subtle.)

Interstellar

You need something inspirational and emotional but not too intense because it’s still too early in the morning. This is quiet drama. Perfect for rainy/cloudy days.

Batman Vs Superman

You’re feeling like aggressive. You’re feeling villainous.

Man of Steel

Old reliable. It’s got a little bit of everything. Epic, sad, high octane, drums. Like lots of drums. And guitars. Basically this is a rock n’ roll band.

Dunkirk

Do you like feeling stressed out or are you normal?

The Mandalorian

Feel’in cool. Any season, any time of day. You’re in the mood for adventure and kickbutt fight scenes. And funk. You want something funky. You’re protagonist is a quiet, snarky, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of person.

Divergent

Something beautiful is happening. People might be getting bloody noses but it’s gonna be beautiful.

Prince of Egypt

Bring out the big inspo guns. You will probably stop writing to dramatically act out Playing with the Big Boys. You’re writing in the late afternoon/evening/nighttime. You want to feel something.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Swashbuckling standard.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Swashbuckling funky.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Swashbuckling EPIC. (This is the best soundtrack/movie out of the three don’t fight me on this.)

Captain America: the Winter Soldier

You just like to hear that screeching Winter Soldier sound that sounds like the electric guitar version of a Nazgul scream. (You know what I mean, the “kchheeeee” sound. Or whatever that is.)

Guardian of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 or Vol. 2

Hang on a second, you’re not writing this is a dance party.

Jason Bourne (any of them)

Must. Write. Fast. Deadline approaching. But you’re definitely writing a thriller. Maybe sci-fi.

The Last Samurai

High-fantasy. Sad. Epic. This story is a journey. A literal journey or an emotional journey. Big climax. (Btw, the Way of the Sword is really great to play on repeat when writing a dramatic death scene.)

Gladiator

Something sad, something beautiful, something epic. You’re writing in the late afternoon, basking in the warm, summer light.

Batman Begins

Dark. Subtle. You’re writing a thriller.

The Dark Knight

HIGH OCTANE DRAMA. You’re in for all the aggressive, emotional music. Heart-pounding. Turn up that volume and blast your eardrums out. (Seriously, this soundtrack is lit.)

The Dark Knight Rises

Moooooody. You’ve reached or are nearing the climax of the story. Or maybe it’s cold. Yes, it’s cold in the story. Dark times for your hero.

The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey

A classic. Good times. You’re in a good mood and the story is in a good place.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

You just want to listen to I See Fire at the end and you know it.

Good for when your story is under way and taking a darker turn. Things are getting exciting. It’s dark and moody outside. You’ve lit candles and are huddled under a pile of blankets.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Why do you want to feel sad?

Solo: A Star Wars Story

This is swashbuckling but SPACE. But you don’t have to be writing sci-fi, maybe you’re writing fantasy. It has epicness, adventure, love, and plus that cool Enfys Nest theme.

(this soundtrack is also my latest obsession)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

(childhood flashback to those of us who completely forgot about this music till last year). Something cozy, something adventurous. Or maybe you just want to feel good. Good will triumph over evil. You will finish that book. Also good if you’re writing a fantasy battle.

Black Panther

Thriller? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Honestly you could be writing anything. But it is definitely summer.

The Maze Runner

SCARY. You’re writing a story that is scary and desperate. You’re probably not listening to this at night unless you’re not worried about looking up and seeing a Griever outside your window.

~~~~~~~~

I feel like I’m missing a soundtrack. But…eh. Oh well. I’ll probably remember tomorrow after this is published.

So what about you?? Do you listen to music when you write?? Do you agree with these “moods” or are you like, no, that’s all wrong. Tell me.

7 thoughts on “Soundtracks by Mood: a Comprehensive Guide

  1. Wow this post is FANTASTIC
    I love soundtracks and the way you wrote this is perfect.
    I often write to soundtracks though a couple times I’ve had to stop because the soundtrack was stressing me out unconsciously. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dunkirk LOL. I did put Interstellar in my Spotify library even though I never write sci-fi! I definitely need certain mood music when I write but I almost never listen to soundtracks… maybe I just haven’t found the right movies that fit!

    Liked by 2 people

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