Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Musical Inspiration that Can Help Your Writing

One night, I was reading a story to Thing 2 called "Bad Kitty".  It's a series about well, a bad kitty.  This one was about politics and explained how kitty wanted to become head of the neighborhood block patrol.  The story is written for kids and it's sarcastic and funny.  It has illustrations of what the cat is doing to keep the kids interested.  There were two pages in the book where it showed a six panel cartoon sketch explaining the action.  On the top corner of the panel was a note written from the writer of the book to the editor of the book.  They broke the 4th wall and went outside of the story to make a joke.  The note said..."Bob (the editor), here would be a good place for the swelling dramatic music".  There was a reply below it that said, "John (the writer) this is a book.  We can't use music."  The writer replied, "Oh right, never mind".  While we all get the joke that a book can't have a musical score playing in the background and a theme song it doesn't mean that the writer can't use music to inspire their writing.

People love to use music in all areas of their lives.  We use it for celebrations like weddings or dances.  Everyone knows the wedding march or the number one song currently playing on the radio.  We listen to songs when we are sad and want to cheer ourselves up or listen to a upbeat song just because we are happy and want to express it.  Come Monday morning I want to listen to any dance song I can find to motivate myself to wake up and start my day.  I am also known to blast Industrial music or Metal when I'm angry and had a bad day.  Music helps us cope with life, so why not use it to help our writing?

After a long day, it's time to sit and write. You try to relax but the kids are screaming and there was a ten car pile up on the Parkway and a customer yelled at you on the phone, and you can't invoke the right mind set to write a kissing scene where the two people are so focused on each other that the entire world has fallen away.  

One way that I overcome this hurdle is to lock the door, put on my "mood music" and pretend that nothing else exists other than the characters being intimate.  I personally like "Overcome" by Tricky Tricky - Overcome, "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star Mazzy Star - Fade Into You or Portishead, "Sour Times" Portishead - Sour Times.  I can listen to these songs and put myself into a place far away from the distractions and write what I need to write.

The best part about music is that there is an unlimited supply of it and every song makes you feel something unique.  A happy song can make us angry because it reminds us of an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or a sad song can remind us of someone that we lost.  The lyrics don't even have to match your mood as long as the music creates the emotion needed.  Whatever song you use needs to match the feeling you are trying to create.  Let it drive the action or the plot or the emotion of the character.  There are endless ways of allowing music to enhance your writing.

I was driving in the car the other day...my favorite place to work through my writing ideas and I was listening to Front Line Assembly "Prophecy" Front Line Assembly - Prophecy and came up with my battle scene for Book 6.  I had always envisioned a battle while listen to it, but didn't know who was fighting.  I started thinking about my Fallen Angels and my pesky vampire problem and voila I had a war.  I also like Smashing Pumpkins "The End is the Beginning is the End" Smashing Pumpkins - The End is the Beginning of the End - The Watchmen version, not the Batman version.  It's good for a nice creepy battle with things that have fangs and claws.  While you can't write in slow motion I certainly think of it that way in my head.

Now the speed round...listen to this and tell me what you want to write about...Jem - "It's Amazing" Jem - It's Amazing...

(No peeking and no copying off anyone else's sheet.)

Here's what I came up with...first round draft notes version:  There is a grand staircase in a museum.  People are all dressed up, chatting about the exhibits and paintings.  A woman in a long tight dress descends the staircase, champagne in hand.  She has her eyes locked a man who is talking to his security detail, but obviously a man of importance in his tux.  He turns and politely speaks to the woman standing next to him and out of the corner of his eye sees the woman on the staircase.  She crosses the marble floor and smiles at him, but keeps walking.  She accidentally brushed against his back in the crowded room. He turns to look at her. She smiles seductively at him and he holds out his hand to her. He smirks and nodded to the head of security to keep an eye on things.  She leaves her drink on a side table and follows the man into an elevator.  He gets into the elevator and waits for the doors to close.  They quip about the crowd and and the champagne.  He invites her to a private suite.  She smiles and says she prefers the elevator.  She stops the elevator and grabs him for a harsh kiss.  She pulls off his jacket and throws it behind her.  He grabs her and pulls her closer.  She leans back, punches him with a right cross, sending him into the wall.  She kicks him with a roundhouse to the face, but he blocks the kick.  He throws a punch and she ducks.  She throws herself shoulder first into his gut and propells him into the wall.  He hits his head and is rendered unconscious.  She throws her red hair back and fixes her dress and makeup.  She grabs the jacket from the floor and pulls out the security card.  She activates the com in her ear as the door at the top of the elevator opens to reveal her partner.  She tossed the key to him and jumps up to escape the elevator.  She walks through the open elevator door on the floor above them and descends the stairs to rejoin the party.

(Not that this is my style of writing, but it's something that came to mind in the few minutes that I listened to the music.  It's also a first draft, so ignore the writing, it's merely meant as an example of what you can write by listening to the music.)

No matter what kind of song you listen to or what you are writing, there is a song to fit every style of writing.  Use it to unlock places in your mind that you didn't know existed.  Just stay away from the corny stuff like the "Chicken Dance" or "YMCA".  I'll leave you with a grand sweeping dramatic song. Escala - Requiem for a Tower 

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