Drawing Images From Music

by mallowz at LiveJournal

MayNoWriMo has taught me a valuable lesson. Every author goes through those difficulties of writing a novel/novella/short story. The plot starts to develop holes like swiss cheese. Things as mundane as scrubbing a toilet start to look far more appealing than sitting and writing through that stubborn scene. We’re all parents, or wives or husbands, sisters or daughters, some of us work, some of us keep home – regardless, most of us are balancing a million things on our heads and an entire book, world, character’s life…? Well that just takes up more room.

But what do you do when you’ve run out of room? When you fail to be creative because you’re exhausted or your brain is overrun with other thoughts or you’ve got that cold that just won’t quit? It’s not quite writer’s block, in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s more a lack of inspiration due to the unavoidable. Life.

This is when I find that sucking inspiration from the already inspired really helps. For instance, music. I’ve read in a lot of places that authors often use playlists while writing their books.  This helps them concentrate on a scene, or keep a specific mood, or even set a particular pace (like action or leisurely). But did you know that you can use music to draw particular images for your book? Let me tell you how.

For starters, put together a playlist based on the ‘feel’ of the book. Is there certain kind of music that better fits your world? Are you writing dark and gritty or light and funny? Is it sexy or innocent? Historical or futuristic? These will all ‘sound’ different. Think of a movie soundtrack or score. That sets the feel of the world you’re about to immerse yourself in. That’s the first and possibly most important part of your playlist.

Then you can start to personalize the songs. Is there a song that just screams your character? Or a song that seems to be written specifically for the tortured love affair between hero and heroine? Add those to the playlist in the order you feel they might appear in your book. For instance, the romantic, longing song will go before the dark, pounding, black moment song on your playlist. You’re telling the story through music.

Finally, you will step away from your story, strap your MP3 player to your hip, and blast the music. The best time is while you’re doing things that require minimal mental effort. Like washing dishes. Or scrubbing bathtubs. Or folding laundry. Just space out, think of your characters as you see them in your head, and play out the story as its written or will be written on the page, but do it in your head. Let the words become pictures and let the pictures become movies. Eventually, you’ll start to see your world, to smell it, to feel it as the music sets the scene. You’ll watch as the characters move, speak, fall in love and break hearts. The music will create the images you were lacking, because you’ve pulled the magic and inspiration that the song originally contained and you’ve harnessed it for yourself.

Neat, huh?

I must warn you though, if you use songs you’re very familiar with, songs you know all the lyrics to, or songs that mean something specific to you (anniversary, couple song, etc), it’ll lose its poignancy. Its already been assigned to an emotion, an image, a memory, and it will not create the new images as easily. So go looking for new music! You can never have enough of that anyway, right? Try places like last.fm. Be bold and click on those, if you like this author then try this, links that sometimes appear on the iTunes pages. In the long run, when your book is playing like a feature film in your head, you’ll be really glad you did.

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One response to “Drawing Images From Music

  1. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this blog post. I am hoping the same good content from you in the future as well. In fact your great writing abilities has helped me to start my own personal blog. Really blogging is spreading its wings wide. Your content is a fine example of it.

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