Set Your Characters to Music

Few things enhance the experience of art like a layer of music. That last movie you raved about? I’ll bet it had a killer soundtrack. And your favorite streaming show probably has a “music supervisor” adding the perfect pop song to punch up the climax. Even art galleries have instrumental mixes designed to enhance your experience of their paintings or sculptures. So, author, why not use music as a way to introduce your characters?

I’m not talking about songs embedded in ebooks, though I’m sure that technology exists. I mean a theme that invites readers to explore your work, a sonic signature they’ll remember next time they encounter your protagonist. All you need is a tune, of course, and a link to YouTube or Soundcloud, plus an image of your book cover, and you’re ready to tweet. If you don’t play, ask a friend to compose something. It’s also worth asking your publisher if they’re musically inclined. No doubt, they’ll understand the right music helps build a brand around your writing. They win, you win, and — most importantly — your reader has another reason to become invested in your characters.

Kaiter Enless is a publisher who also writes music. His Logos Literature blog is a gathering place for fiction, poetry, plus music, and I’m proud to have several stories and essays on his site. Kaiter recently composed dark, layered themes for three of my vampire characters, and a chilling one for my human guardian. Each captures an aspect of the character in the context of a particular story. They include a gothic cello backed by a slow, steady drumbeat (“Fiona”), a baroque toccata (“Søren”), a Gregorian-style chant (“Mr. Strange”), and a haunting piece that seemingly echoes across centuries (“Caius”). All are about a minute long and easily shareable on social media.

Right now, I’m using them to promote my short stories which are chapters in a forthcoming novel. I also plan to circulate these themes when the book comes out later this year.

If you’re looking to connect with readers on a deeper, more emotional level, and increase awareness of your brand, find a way to share music that embodies your characters and stories. And if you’re lucky enough to see your book adapted for the big screen, you’ll have a theme in your pocket to share with the producers.

All the best with your writing and promoting,

Dan Klefstad

Author of short stories about humans who work for vampires

and the forthcoming novel Fiona’s Guardians


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I write stories about humans who work for vampires. Look for my novel, Fiona's Guardians, in 2020.

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