If there’s one single thing I’ve learned over the course of the past several years participating in NaNoWriMo, it’s that a writing playlist is absolutely essential. I write best to a soundtrack, and over the past couple of years that we’ve been brainstorming, my writing partner and I have come up with soundtracks for each book in the series we’re working on.
This month, though, we’re working on A Night Full of Red, and
Note: After November 2016, the Spotify list may not match the songs below or may have more songs in it! The songs below are the full list from November 2016.
Guren no Yumiya (Linked Horizon)
This is better known as the first opening to Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), a 2014 anime that you’ve probably seen cosplays from, if nothing else.
Our very earliest version of NSEF, which featured a lot more dying and apocalypse and a lot fewer comedy aspects, was inspired by a joke Emi and I made about Attack on Titan, which eventually morphed into a short three-part story about the characters who eventually became Dani, Cara, and Lily. If you read the original shorts, they’re nearly impossible to recognize from Book One, except for the colors associated with them.
The song is still in here because it’s a good fight song, but also because it has some really great parodies associated with it.
I Ship It (Not Literally)
One of the three main characters in our 2016 NaNo project, Cara, is one of our favorites just because she’s the most like us: a rabid fangirl who spends too much time reading and writing fan fiction.
To mark her entrance into the story, there’s this parody of Icona Pop’s “I Love It” covered by Not Literally as “I Ship It,” possibly the most accurate depiction of life as a fangirl that exists.
(Except maybe for the anime Kiss Him, Not Me, but that’s a separate issue entirely.)
The bright electronic sound doesn’t feel like it matches the rest of the soundtrack, which sounds harsher and holds more guitar than anything else, but it’s so well-suited to the place it happens in the story when popular, pretty Cara reveals her secret fangirl side to Dani.
You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid (The Offspring)
I was a little obsessed with this song when I was in high school, during what I tend of think of as my “alternative stage.” (It wasn’t a very intensive alternative stage, and I mainly just listened to a lot of 89X out of Detroit.)
The opening of the song is really fitting, not just for Book One, but for the series as a whole:
Show me how to lie — you’re getting better all the time
And turning all against the one is an art that’s hard to teach
Another clever word sets off an unsuspecting herd
And as you step back into line, a mob jumps to their feet
The general feel for Dani is a bit on the more aggressive side, especially since we meet her just as she’s in the vice principal’s office for getting into a fight, and I think this song’s a great example not only for her aggression, but also for her general suspicion of everyone and everything.
Centuries (Fall Out Boy)
Almost anything I say about this particular song would constitute a major series spoiler. Instead, here’s the song itself.
Let It Rock (Kevin Rudolf)
A lot of the songs that my writing partner and I associate with Dani are fire-themed, like Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock.” With Dani’s more aggressive personality and overall hot-headedness, this song’s punchiness sounds like a combination of a workout and a fight scene.
Going Down in Flames (3 Doors Down)
Dani is in her rebellious stage when Book One begins:
Don’t tell me what to think ’cause I don’t care this time
Don’t tell me what you believe ’cause you won’t be there
To catch me when I fall
But you’ll need me when I’m not here at all
Miss me when I’m gone again, yeah
At any rate, it’s just another general Dani character/mood song for this book.
The Phoenix (Fall Out Boy)
Spoiler alert: in the first NSEF book, Dani ends up bonded with magical artifact weapons called the Phoenix Sword & Shield. The high-energy sound of Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix” is a really great battle song for Dani. (I like to describe this song to people as “a song that I could flip a car to.”)
Citizen/Soldier (3 Doors Down)
The first time I heard this song was in a movie theater as part of a National Guard commercial. I’m pretty sure this song is basically all propaganda, but I love using it as inspiration to write about vigilantes and other people who have secret identities.
It especially fits NSEF because of one particular line: “Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair.” Despair is an ongoing theme in the story, and we use the plot to examine how different people deal with grief and hopelessness.
Stronger (Kelly Clarkson)
Like “I Ship It,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the playlist at first, especially since the rest of the playlist is very aggressive and testosterone-fueled.
But whenever I hear the song, it always makes me feel like it would be a great fit for the ending of a movie about a female hero, and it definitely fits the character development arc Emi and I have planned for Dani in the first book.
I also really like the way it makes the playlist for Book 1 end on a positive and hopeful note. This series is pretty dark, but Dani has a much more positive and hopeful backstory and character development arc than many of the other characters. Since Book 1 is really Dani’s story, I like having Dani-style positivity ending off the playlist.
What are you listening to during NaNoWriMo 2016? Share your blog post or Spotify links in the comments, or tell me what you’re listening to – I’m always on the lookout for new songs to put on my nest writing soundtrack.