By Leslie Lindsay
I love music. All kinds. Just listen to my iPod. You will hear everything from cheesy Neil Diamond Christmas tunes to flamboyant Adam Lambert to Colbie Calliet…what do you want from me, anyway??! So, it’s no surprise that I enjoy the music not just for what it sounds like, but for what it means/says(being the writer type that I am).
Most of the time, the iPod is plugged directly into my ear as I run, step, glide, or ride at the gym. It’s not just a way to make the time I sweat go by faster (it helps with that, of course), but the real reason is that this variety of music helps me plan the next moves or dialogue of my characters of my “in-progress” writing.
For example, today I was listening to Bruce Springsteen (http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html). The boss’s gravely vocals got me thinking about the slippery incident in my book–sort of a climax to come–(oh, my…what an ironic choice of words). Before, your head goes to the gutter, it really is about a slippery road, an accident about to happen. It goes like this:
“Outside it’s raining, they’re driving slow, and I can hear the wild wind blowin’,” (From “Cover Me,” 1984).
Okay–here’s what I like about this: First, there’s a description of the scene. Next, it goes to what he observes (they’re driving slow), and finally wrapping it all up, what the person hears (the wild wind blowing). This may also work with another feeling/sensation like eating/tasting, smelling, feeling, etc.
Now try crafting a similar sentence in which you take elements from your story in a similar fashion:
Description–observation of larger world–character’s intropection.
Next example comes from Dan Fogelberg (see, told you I had a wide variety of likes in the music department). The song, “Same Old Lang Syne” pops on the iPod (it’s there for a reason, trust me) and I am again struck by the lyrics:
“Met my old lover in the grocery store. The snow was falling Christmas Eve. I stole behind her in the frozen foods And I touched her on the sleeve. She didn’t recognize the face at first, but then her eyes flew open wide. She went to hug me and she spilled her purse and we laughed until we cried….We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how….” (from the Innocent Age album, 1981). Curious, I did a little more digging:
Q: Your song “Same Old Lang Syne” – did that really happen?
A: “Yes, absolutely it did. In 1975 or 76 I was home in Peoria, Illinois visiting my family for Christmas. I went to a convenience store to pick up some whipping cream to make Irish coffees with, and quite unexpectedly ran into an old high school girlfriend. The rest of the song tells the story.” (answered by the late Dan Fogelberg in 2003 from his webiste, http://danfogelberg.com/faqs.html)
So, I challenge–and caution you–how would your story go if that were what you were writing about? Have you ever bumped into an old lover at the grocery store? Hummm….
Write on, Wednesday!