Thursday, 29 October 2020

Creating Stories With Music

Music is a big part of my writing process.  I have thousands of songs sorted into dozens of playlists for characters, moods, and universes.  Maybe it's the result of too many formative years spent watching movies and television, where the right emotions are always triggered through the background music, but it's how my brain works.  Sound creates fictional worlds faster than anything else for me.  

It is impressive how consistently music can affect our interpretation of what we see.  Stores use catchy music to encourage people to be cheerful and impulsive (thus more likely to buy things).  Cathedrals were built to amplify certain chords within their structure, creating experiences of awe and transcendence.  A switch in music can change a story from a hopeful musical into a horror film.  

My writing process often starts with a scene inspired by a song.  I imagine an emotionally powerful experience or connection.  With Revelations, it was Michael telling Dani that she is not a monster, inspired by the song True Colors.  I wanted to create a profound moment of being seen, all the bad parts and all the good parts.  Of having someone truly know and understand, making it impossible to dismiss their feelings of love.  In Division, the first moment was Vincent falling into a depressed fugue and realizing he has to pull himself out, inspired by Bring Me To Life.  He is desperate to find a way out of the trap of his own mind.  He's reaching out to anyone who might be able to save him, but still finds the strength to offer a hand to someone else who is equally trapped.

Knowing this, it's probably not a surprise that my book, Deadly Potential, features a songwriter who uses music to sort out her emotions and experiences, transforming them into notes and lyrics.  Delving into the music industry was incredibly fun, providing a peek into a world that I've always been curious about.  I read a lot of biographies, including Never Say No To A Rock Star and biographies of Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, and Madonna.  I learned that there are song factories, where people write dozens of songs each day, which are then bought by performers and managers.  There are people who can write a song in ten minutes and others who spend months crafting each chord.

A song can tell a story just as powerfully as a book.  It gives us the same opportunity to experience life from another person's point of view.  It's probably why music and stories are so intertwined.  As Hugh Grant explained in the movie, Music and Lyrics, nothing can make you feel happy as quickly as the right song.  Except maybe, the right story.

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