More on Prompts, Mood, and Music – Music and Character Studies

Blue Eyes Blind

By ZZ Ward

I feel the moon hitting the blacktop,
Just like a fuse, making the night so hot,
Forget the truth until tomorrow,
You’ll be my Hughes, I’ll be your Harlow,

All I know is you stole my eyes,
And was packaged to stone ’cause you put it down right,
All I know is you pull me through,
I don’t wanna see nothing if I ain’t seeing you

 As I wrote about in a previous post about writing and music, music is often used as an aid for setting a scene for writers, but it can so much more. Before I begin a new work I like to spend some time gathering music for each of my characters. I often use many songs for a character, but I’ve picked out only three to write about here to keep it brief.

In my novel, my heroine discovers that the man she’s loved for years is an undercover  intelligence agent. Even though this secret is kept for a good cause and for her own protection, it is still painful  to her when revealed. So, this song was helpful in writing her character. It’s hard enough write about someone who’s so much younger than I am and I find it captures the uncertainty of those years – full of passion and energy and yet – not quite knowing which is the right path to take. For my hero’s response to her pain, I chose Hosier’s Work Song. He’s at an age where he’s beginning to slow down and is beginning to feel his mortality. At the same time he’s  realized that he might be able to find rest in the love a young woman.

Work Song

By Hozier

That’s when my baby found me
I was three days on a drunken sin
I woke with her walls around me
Nothin’ in her room but an empty crib
And I was burnin’ up a fever
I didn’t care much how long I lived
But I swear I thought I dreamed her
She never asked me once about the wrong I did

When, my, time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I’ll crawl home to her

I find it’s helpful to keep track of where my story is going by having a song to put me right where they are – their mood, their internal thoughts and something of their character.

A clearer example of this is a song I played when  thinking about the heroine’s foster father – an Army Special Forces vet. He still feels the pull to be actively serving. (When the song was written there had been a devastating earthquake in Japan and a mass murderer in Norway). The video is beautifully done and conveys the sense of being overwhelmed by the pain in the world and feeling helpless to do much about it.

Flo Rida 
I Cry

(I know caught up in the middle) I cry, just a little when I think of letting go
(Oh no gave up on the riddle) I cry, just a little when I think of letting go

I know you wanna get behind the wheel but only one Rida
Eyes shut still got me swimming like a diver
Can’t let go i got fans in Okinawa
My heart to Japan quake losers and survivors
Norway no you didn’t get my flowers
No way to sound better but the killer was a coward
Face just showers, the minute in a hour
Heard about the news all day went sour
Lil mama got me feeling like a Lemonhead
Put you in the box just the presidents cigarettes
Give em my regards or regardless i get arrested
Ain’t worried about the killers just the young and restless

Songs help me to recall where I am in the story and can even help me transition to the next section I want to write while I am still putting down sketches of scenes. My goal is to have enough words on paper that I don’t need the songs anymore to fill in the empty spaces. I want my readers to experience the things I heard and felt in the music through my own words.

My advice is to use music to help find your story in the beginning of a project, but learn to let go of this wonderful aid as you progress in your writing project. Hopefully, you will be creating something that your readers can hear new music in the silence of your book’s pages.

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