Sunday, November 1, 2009

Music and Plot Ideas

Music as inspiration is not a new concept. Since man and women first started banging sticks on trees or rocks, we've been using music to set mood, kick warriors into a frenzy, seduce or show our natioanl pride. So, why not use our favorite songs to inspire plot?

Case in point - and this will be no shock to a certain Seirra Wolf - I love the country duo Montgomery Gentry. Their latest CD kicks off with a song about charasmatic evangelicals who go into such religious ferver they handle rattle snakes. (You really have to hear the song to appreciate the humor of it. It's got a great beat and lyrics. Trust me.) Anyhoo, so as I'm trying to put a plot together for a romantic suspense sequel for a book I have under consideration at one of my pubs, I started thinking...what in the hell am I going to come up with for this book? I know my well ain't dry because I am constantly adding new ideas to the idea books I have. But for some reason I couldn't see beyond the hero of this tale because I never intended to write a book about him so I had to make it very interesting. So, after considering several ways I could go I decided to make a pseudo-paranormal. I say psuedo, because I'm going to intro into this book a character (brother to the heroine) who suffers from clinical lycanthropy. (Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like - a person who only believes they can turn into a wolf). All right, that's a protential problem for the heroine and hero to overcome, since she is really the only person her brother has to lean what other conflict.

Enter the song The Revival.

I'd been listening to the CD with that song on it last week driving to and from work and getting the song stuck in my head, singing it around work. Suddenly, I knew my villian. But that's going to remain a secret for now, but you can probably guess where this is going...

Which brings me back to the topic at hand. We all had our shares of plots come from dreams, people watching, current events, speculative songs? I know authors sometimes title their books after their favorite songs, but what do you see when you hear a particular piece of music.

There is this one song by Clannad where Bono sings a duet with Maire Brennan, titled Once in a Lifetime. It's a beautiful tune that brings to mind all sorts of romantic images while at the same time is very sad and meloncholy to hear it. I always imagine a pair of lovers who were torn apart by war or circumstance and are reunited on a very rainy, cold night when neither of them are expecting it. I don't know why those images are fast in my brain when I hear that song, but they are as fixed as the notes on the sheetmusic.

Now, try and convince me there isn't a story there somewhere.

The lyrics aren't necessarily the key component for inspiring flashes of images. Instrumentals can be just as vivid in creating a clear picture of your plot and characters as a heavy rock tune with a kick-ass lead singer (Chad Kroger, anyone?) or storytelling lyrics.

It's what the music makes you feel, or what wheels start turning inside your head that is the important thing. Try it someone, you might be surprised.



Mark Alders said...

Music is great to write to, I do it all the time.

Great post, Kate.



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