Wednesday, September 3, 2014


by Ursula Renée

I usually have music playing in the background when I work. However, I do not have one song or playlist that puts me in the mood to write. What I listen depends on my characters and settings.

Each character I create is different from the next. Their experiences vary as do their tastes in literature, film, music, etc. As part of my writing process, my characters tell me their favorite genre. I then research the type of music they enjoy and create a playlist that caters to their tastes.

There are a few cases in which both my characters listen to the same genre (i.e. goth, funk, psychedelic, etc.). Most times, however, the characters listen to different types of music (i.e. the heroine prefers easy listening and the hero likes country). In situations like that, I try to find artists like Bob Dylan or Neil Diamond, who cross genres or songs that both characters could tolerate, like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.”

In cases where the musical tastes are too different (i.e. one character enjoys R&B and the other listens to Heavy Metal), I create a playlist with songs that suit the scenes. I may use a faster song like Kasabian’s “Underdog” for an action scene and softer music like Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” for romance.

Creating a playlist can get trickier when I write historical romances. In these cases, the songs have to reflect the characters’ personality and the time period in which the novel is set. Though, I love the song “At Last,” my heroine could not hum the tune in Sweet Jazz. The song was written in 1941, three years after my novel takes place. Therefore, she hummed “Dream a Little Dream,” which was written around 1931.

It may seem like a lot of work. In some cases, it can take days to compile enough selections to create a one hour playlist. However, once completed, I listen to the songs whenever I work on the novel. And, once the novel is published; I hope the music will help the readers get a better understanding of the characters and the settings.♥

Ursula Renée is the President of RWA/NYC. Her historical romance, SWEET JAZZ, will be published by The Wild Rose Press. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, drawing and stone carving. Visit her at

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