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Writing Tips to Trick out your Script – Tip #1 Soundtracking

By December 31, 2015Screenwriting IQ


Many books exist on the technique of writing, but I still have not seen one dedicated to the most crucial aspect. The writing habit. How to get yourself TO WRITE. There’s a bazillion distractions fighting for your attention. If you want to write, if YOU REALLY WANT TO WRITE, you must fight for your attention too, or you’re dead in the water.

You’ll be thinking about the screenplay you should have written for years (I have seen this happen to many would be screenwriters). Whether you have a job, a kid, two kids, two jobs and two kids, there’s always a way to get yourself into the writing zone. Like so…



Take those earbuds. Stick them in your ears. Turn up the music. All the way up. And let your ten fingers do the rest. You’d be amazed at how rapidly this gets you into the writing mood.

It’s so Pavlovian. You can train those ten fingers like a dog. Roll over, sit, play dead, and… yes, write your screenplay.

Here is what I do:

I choose one or two soundtracks that fit the tone of the screenplay I’m writing. Example: I worked on a sci-fi script from a good portion of last year. The tone was similar to “Interstellar” and “Aliens.” Guess which two soundtracks I turned on every time I sat my ass down on the keyboard. “Interstellar” and “Aliens.”

Even on the days I didn’t want to write, even when I was exhausted, even when the very idea of writing was more distasteful than getting my fingernails pulled out, I wrote… as long as I had the music on.

I wrote, because I had trained myself to write that sci-fi script to “Interstellar” and “Aliens.” This continues to work seemingly forever. After completing the 3rd draft to the sci-fi script, I put it down for three months. Guess what happened when I worked on it again? The music took me right back where I left off. Whenever I hear Hans Zimmer and James Horner soundtracks for those films, I feel like working on my sci-fi script.

Soundtrack is an old Propaganda technique. Fascist dictators use music to get a crowd going, religions use music to get you closer to God, Disneyland uses music to get you excited about a small, small word… you can do the same to MAKE yourself write.

Who cares if you don’t have the 200 million to make your movie. Who cares if you don’t have actors or producers. Heck, you don’t have anything on paper. You can STILL soundtrack your movie….

… and thus, make yourself write.

The Sound Of Music


1. Don’t just choose music you like to listen to. Find melodies that fit your story “tonally.”

For example, I can fire up Mark Mothersbaugh’s soundtrack to “Lego: The Movie” while writing my quirky comedy, but not for my cancer melodrama. You hear me?

2. I wouldn’t pick more than 3 soundtracks. I usually use 1 or 2 at the very most. Why? You want your brain to associate that particular music with that particular script. Your dog knows “sit” means to sit down. Imagine if you told your canine friend, “get comfortable” or “have seat”? Huh?

Your writing brain is eerily similar to your dog. You want to maintain commands. I frequently write more than one script at a time, so separating my soundtracks is super important. I do not just have “writing music.” I choose specific music for specific scripts.

3. Earphones. Earbuds. Ear muffs. Whatever it takes to shut out the world out orally is the difference between writing 6 pages or 6 words. As Andre Agassi once said, “momentum is the most important thing in life.” If you’re constantly interrupted by texts, emails, loved ones, you’ll be lucky to get 6 syllables down.

On the days I do not use earphones, I pay a hefty price. 100% of the time, when I’m somehow too lazy to plug one, then two earbuds into my ears, I write significantly less.

BONUS: We have all experienced a piece of music that has entered us in such a deep way, it seemed to have touched our soul. If you don’t believe in souls or spirits or ghosts, you still have to admit you have experienced “emotions” with music. Guess what, those “emotions” can amplify your writing to another level. In this era of smart phones, I don’t understand why “sound-tracking” is not used more. This very powerful tool alone can make you want to write.

Written by: Norith Soth

For more screenwriting tips to trick out your script, check out tip#2 and Crush Hard on your screenplay!


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