One of the side effects of having a teenage son and/or Rock Band is that I'm more in touch with "new" bands than I used to be. Previously, I'd stopped listening to the radio much, preferring my collection of old, familiar CD's instead. Anyhow, to make a long story short, I've been getting great CD's for Christmas and birthdays in the last year or so, since Joey now knows my musical tastes very well and makes really great choices. Last Christmas it was The Killers' Sam's Town, which I love and used as the "soundtrack" while I was writing "Pale Roses." Not that the songs had a ton to do with the actual story, mind you, but the... atmosphere, I suppose you'd call it... was inspiring.
Another band I've discovered I like a whole bunch is Foo Fighters. So this morning when I sat down to work on Crowmaker, I turned on Rhapsody and fired up the Foo Fighters playlist. I pulled up the plot diagram I'd started for Kellen (the Crowmaker) and started fussing with her emotional/personal development throughout the story. At which point I realized that "The Pretender" (YouTube alert!) is the absolute perfect theme song for her (as well as that whole "atmosphere" thing on all their songs working really well overall). I wound up with a new angle on Kellen and several new scenes to add to the plot line. Coolness.
Another thing I've been considering lately is that my stories in general tend to have a pretty serious attitude. Yet most of my favorite stories, be they books or movies, include lighter moments, moments that make me smile or laugh out loud. And it's those moments, that feeling of comaraderie I get from them, that help bind me to the characters and care about them. Which gives even greater impact to the more dramatic moments in their lives. So across the bottom of my sheet of notes for the second draft, I printed in big red letters: "Joy and Laughter."
There's a life message in there somewhere, too, I suppose.