Tuesday, May 07, 2013

If music be the food of love...

Some people swear music is necessary for their creative juices to start the words flowing. Others prefer silence. Still others need the background noise of everyday life in order to focus on the story taking shape under their fingers.

Today we’re going to focus on the use of music to create story. Next week we’ll deal with the other preferences.

Some authors choose a particular song that embodies either the theme of their book or perhaps is a signature of one of the main characters. They'll put it on repeat - and then play the song continuously as they write, letting both the rhythm of the beat and the lyrics of the song sway the way a character speaks or a scene flows. 

Other authors have a song for each character - or a piece of music for each scene. The smart authors publish their playlist so readers can listen along as they read the book!

Music can also act as inspiration – the lyrics of a song come on the radio and a new story starts in your head. Or you hear a beautiful motif that perfectly captures an emotion and the next thing you know, you’re expressing that same emotion in words.

It’s this last that we’re concentrating on this week: using music to inspire a story.


Tune into an Internet radio station that allows you to create your own channel (I like Pandora, myself). Create a station of New Age instrumental music. Alternately, choose a film composer (Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone).

Why these two types of stations? Because they often evoke emotion – and that’s what you’re looking for today. Music that moves you. Direction doesn’t matter, movement does.

Then minimize the screen and don’t look at it again. Don’t look to see what film the music is from or what the name of the piece is. If you do, your thoughts will be “tainted” by the information.

Instead, just listen and write. Let the sound enter your ears as music and come out your fingers as words.

Use either your journal and a pen/pencil or write right at the computer. Whatever works best for you. But keep writing until the last note fades away.

Then stop.

Put the piece away.

Do another if you wish. Maybe even one more after that.

Put them all away.

Give them a few days before you pull them out to read again. With fresh eyes, did you capture the emotion the music expressed? How can you use this piece of writing? Will it fit a current work in progress? Does it start an entirely new story?

Music can inspire us. Let it.

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