Archive | July 2012

Music Gives Atmosphere

Some writers have perfect spelling, grammar and syntax, but their stories could be marketed as a remedy for insomnia.

There are a number of reasons for this. Perhaps their choice of subject matter does not have mass appeal. They may do a good job on their piece, but the reader is not the least bit interested in “Sunday Afternoon at the Lawn Bowling Tournament”. 

Perhaps the writer’s style is too technical for the average reader. While other astrophysicists would completely understand “And That’s How the Universe Came to Be…”, the story needs to be told in ‘layman’s terms’ to cast a net wide enough to capture a larger and less sophisticated audience.

The most common reason that some novels become epic snore-fests is that the writer simply has not mastered how to pick the right flow of words and pace to hook the reader and take him/her on a nail-biting, cold sweating, page turning, curiosity burning roller coaster ride. Who dunnit? What’s that noise? Is he alive? Is she going to marry him? How will they ever get out of this predicament? A good writer wants to inundate the reader with questions, suspense and every emotional response imaginable.

Once a memorable character, setting and plot have been created, then comes the job of holding the reader’s attention and keeping it until the final sentence.

But how? How can a writer create such a dramatic and poignant scene that the reader is transported into the author’s fictional world, identifying with characters, becoming a part of the action and experiencing genuine happiness, sadness, angst and fear?

Music can be incorporated as part of a successful writing technique. Some people like to have complete silence to write while others are comfortable in a crowded coffee shop. Whatever the preference, music can come in handy as a companion to help the writer’s emotions flow out of his or her being into the pen or the keyboard.

For example, pretend that the scene is a scary one where a villain has chased the protagonist into an abandoned building and they are playing hide and seek, cat and mouse, and the danger is imminent and unpredictable. Use classical pieces such as ‘The War of 1812 Overture’ or ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. The swift and frenetic movement of the notes will evoke feelings of hurriedness, tension and suspense.

It doesn’t have to be classical music. There are so many styles and genres out there. The writer can choose from thousands of titles. Perhaps the scene is the funeral of the protagonist’s true love. Everyone is standing around the cemetery and the writer wants to evoke emotions of sadness and loss. Sappy songs are a dime a dozen and that would be the time to use one. Pull out the Titanic theme song or Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.  The emotions that this music draws out of the author will transmit to what is written on the page. It will enhance the scene and help to convey, not only the technical aspects of the action, but the emotional and psychological portions of the scene.

It’s important for the writer to choose musical pieces that set the atmosphere and bring out his or her emotions so that these sentiments can then become engaging sequences in a story. It is a lot of fun to experiment with this and it is also surprising to discover just how much the right music can get the creative juices flowing and turn the writing into something less mechanical and more organic.

Try it. Let me know if it helps. Happy writing!

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