There's one central part of my writing process that I've never seen suggested in a book on fiction writing. I know it's not uncommon - at least two other writers I know do this. It's a fun exercise that helps me keep a story percolating between writing sessions: I make soundtracks.
The list of playlists I've made in iTunes betrays my epic nerditude for story soundtracks. I have a few playlists that a normal person might've made, like "Songs to sing along to" and "Songs for road trips," but the vast majority of my playlists are story soundtracks. I make one for every novel I write. And every short story I work on for more than a week. And occasionally just for single key scenes I need to write ("Tiern/Rowyn FIGHT" is a romping good mix, IMHO). Making soundtracks helps me sort out what I want a story or scene to feel like, and sometimes what direction I want it to take. And it plays into my obsessive nature, which is a bonus.
I've been listening to my Or Your Money Back soundtrack a lot lately. The two songs that got me started building the mix are Queen's "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" and Incubus's "Drive," which represent pretty damn accurately where I wanted Seb to be as a character at the beginning and end of the book.
Queen - Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy
Fresh out of the box lover boy idealism, confident and upbeat. This is so Seb it hurts.
Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want
"I'm everything you want/I'm everything you need[...]/But I mean nothing to you and I don't know why." Seb's relationship with his dreamer, in a nutshell.
Kristin Chenoweth - Hopelessly Devoted to You (from the Pushing Daisies soundtrack)
Like Olive, Seb is the sort of character who might have a lovesick musical number while closing up at a pie shop. If he worked at a pie shop.
The Coral - Dreaming of You
"In my lonely room/while I'm dreaming of you/oh what can I do/I still need you but/I don't want you now"
Dave Matthews Band - Crash Into Me
Tender. Tactile. Stalkery. That's my boy.
Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World
Here for tone/message more than literal lyrics. Seb is fixated on there being one person for him.
The Killers - Mr. Brightside
This song is in two of my story soundtracks at the moment. I don't know what's up with my protagonists wanting people who are taken.
Jimmy Eat World - Sweetness
A budding sense of jadedness, set to cheery music.
Kansas - Carry on Wayward Son
This ends up in every damn soundtrack I make lately. I blame Supernatural. (It does have an appropriate theme, though.)
Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly
"Fly along with me/I can't quite make it alone/Try to make this life my own."
Snow Patrol - Chocolate
"This could be the very minute/I'm aware I'm alive/All these places feel like home." Another self-discovery song - and probably my favorite music video of this bunch.
Asia - Heat of the Moment
I have no shame. I just love this. It's the sort of song Seb would sing along to at full volume while driving.
Snow Patrol - Crack the Shutters
Very tactile first-person protagonist. Fleshy times with love interest. Lack of shame will probably serve me well.
Incubus - Drive
Seb's second character song - independence, subverting authority, taking responsibility for himself. The lyric "When I drive myself/my light is found" plays heavily into a monologue one of his supporting characters has. Like "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy," pretty much perfect for the character at this point in the story.
Coldplay - Don't Panic
Seb's biggest strength is probably his ability to see the beauty in things. Even months after his creation, he looks at the world with a sense of awe. He probably drives the people around him nuts.
Foo Fighters - M.I.A.
The tone I'm aiming at for the ending.
Heartache, love, and self-discovery, set to cheery tunes. This is what I associate with Seb. Listening to it while I'm walking home lets me crawl inside his head a little. It's pretty good writing music, too.