A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cue the Music

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to music. I have a hard time remembering which bands sang which of my favorite songs. And except for a few months in college when I took piano lessons, I’ve never played an instrument. But I’m just as affected by music as the next human. I think it’s in our blood to feel a rhythm seep into our core and take hold, or shake our hips or tap our toes to a beat.

And it amazes me how some songs are so poignant in their pithy message. Musicians and songwriters are similar to novel writers in their desire to get a message across to their readers or listeners, but have so much less time to do so. How do they manage to tug on emotions and tell an entire story within a few minutes (unless it’s a symphony or musical theater piece)? Think of the crescendo that marks the climax of a piece of symphony, the chorus that repeatedly highlights the main theme of the song, or the drumbeat that lends a sense of culminating suspense. Don’t these elements echo what other storytellers and writers do? In addition, there are some bands whose music I would recognize within a few notes. Isn’t this like what writers call “voice?” They have a certain technique and way of telling a story, just as each author does.

I love Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. My favorite song by them is “I Won’t Back Down.” It has a message of persistence and strength that vibrates within this writer’s soul. Just as when I read a good book, listening to this song gets me pumped up and helps me refocus. How does he do this in just a few minutes time? With skill, and awesome storytelling ability.

Since we’re talking music today, do you have other examples of how music echoes other types of storytelling/writing? Do you have a song you consider your personal anthem? Do you use music while writing, and how does it echo your characters/theme?


JB Lynn said...

I love to listen to instrumental soundtracks from movies or television while I write. Something about their repetitive nature helps me focus.

When I'm on deaden I find myself listening to Bowie's UNDER PRESSURE, lol.

Cathy Perkins said...

I love music - and prefer to have something playing all the time.

While I don't consciously make up playlists for my characters, I do identify songs they'd like. Holly is into Finger Eleven, while Mick likes old beach music (think pre-Motown, shagging music)

Having grown up with the protest songs of the late 60s and 70s (ever listen to the lyrics of Fortunate Son?) the brainless pop of the 80s was only good for dancing. I did sorta despair for current music until I heard Pink, Green Day outgrew the Dookie phase, and the Dixie Chicks weren't ready to make nice.

Romance stories? Carrie Underwood, The Next Time He Cheats. Darius Rucker, Alright. Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, Like We Never Loved At All

Okay, stepping away from the keyboard

Toni Anderson said...

Excellent post, Anne Marie. My personal anthem is Bruce Springsteen's NO SURRENDER. I often place it as I start my day :)
Song lyrics intrigue me because the writers use so few words to create a story and the emotion within that story. I love it :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

JB - Now Bowie's song is stuck in my head. LOL But it's appropriate given the stuff I must get done today. ;)

Cathy - Love this - and that Mick likes shagging beach music. I get an instant picture of him and his personality! Oh, and I love Pink and Green Day. My other current fave is Weezer - "Island in the Sun" is my "getaway" song.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Toni - it really does amaze me that songs can instantly reach out and grab you and take you for a journey. I'm thinking about Journey. LOL

Rita said...

Music plays an important part in my writing. Some days I play it before I even sit down at the keyboard to set the mood. Especially for an emotional scene, I have sound tracks from dozens of movies to play while writing scenes. The ST from a good action movie can help me keep the pace when writing a fight scene. In a book that will probably never get to print but that I love, the hero is a hard, mean dude when he’s away for the heroine. When he’s with her, he is her protector. Soft and he LOVES to dance with her. The pages are filled with song lyrics (yes I know I couldn’t use them in a published book) She has no idea he is a government assassin. I don’t have a song but this couple have several.

Elise Warner said...

Love your post, Anne Marie. I have classical music playing in the background of my life all day but the music and lyrics that touch me the most come from musical comedies when the world was blessed with Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Irving Berlin.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I love music and especially singing (waves to Maureen) but I never listen to music when I'm writing. It interferes with the soundtrack in my head...

Anne Marie Becker said...

Rita - I got chills when I read about your "hard, mean dude" hero who enjoys dancing with the heroine. Sounds like he's keeping a leash on his passion - so powerful emotionally!

Elise - I love classical music, and my kids play "guess that song" on the way to school. I'm hoping there's some truth to the brain boost classical music gives people. We'll see. LOL

Marcelle - I'm the same way. No music, but there's plenty of background noise that serves as white noise. But when I need to get my brain moving in new directions, I'll go for a walk and listen to hard rock or whatever gets my groove going again. ;)

Maureen A. Miller said...

You might not know this about me, but I'm rather fond of ... "He's leaving (leaving) on that midnight train to Georgia (woo hoo)"


I have yet to make a character share my musical preferences. I have to keep the readers from thinking I'm weird.

Toni Anderson said...

And now I'm singing "On that Midnight train ta Georgia!"

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, me, too, Toni! LOL

Maureen, I'm picturing sequins and long silk gloves... ;)

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