How I Write Novels

A Playlist will Bring Your Novel Alive — Before it’s Written

1 Trick I’ve Used To Write 5 Novels

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
2 min readMay 6, 2022
Building a playlist for my newest project.

When I’m writing a book, a playlist connects me to my characters and my story. I build this playlist by adding songs I come into contact with that correlate to any aspect of the project, as I move from imagining that fictional world to actually writing it. A few examples:

  • characters
  • setting
  • emotional arcs
  • regional/historical sounds

I always enjoy building this playlist because it’s a way to world build that isn’t on the page or just in my mind. And this kind of “off-site” project, although technically “work,” is work I can do when I’m not actually able to be behind my desk, and which will, in turn, feed that same need down the line, when I need to feel connected to my book but am not able to sit with the actual book itself.

As the playlist becomes more robust, I listen when…

  • I’m doing housework
  • answering my email
  • driving carpool
  • and hanging with my kids

… just to name a few.

When I let the music that I associate with my project enter me this way, during times I’m not technically “working,” I find I’m always able to feel connected to the world I’m writing about, even when I can’t actually *be* writing.

I listened to this song (Turn off the News and Build a Garden, by Lukas Nelson) a lot when I was writing my psychological thriller, Fierce Little Thing. Even now, two years after finishing the book, it slips me right back into the cult at the heart of that world, for better or worse.

How do you use music to connect you to your writing?



Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

She/her. New York Times bestseller / Author of five novels including: Fierce Little Thing, June, and Bittersweet.