Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skate Away

There is nothing more visual to me than something that is purely audio- Music. All my life I have lost myself in the Amazing Dolby Technicolor Dream Coat of music and allowed the movies - tragedies, romance, adventure tales, spy fliks- whatever- to unfold within my mind. For those of you who read my first novel, Milky Way Marmalade you will know that music- especially Rock in all its forms- is my religion.

Dire Straits even wrote a song about my practice:

"And the music is whatever was the story and the story is whatever was the song."

Making music on location. I cannot write without creating a sound track. I-tunes has really become a great aid in my writing since creating a playlist is so easy. And what I love about this creative tool is that I can wander down a Manhattan street or stroll in Central Park and have scenes, ideas, characters, personality traits, etc- forming in my subconscious. The story continually unfolds and fleshes out. It gains emotional depth.

My current novel - a YA story that takes place in the 1980s- has formed itself almost entirely from music. It's not that I am using lyrics to come up with plot points but rather- the emotional tone of the songs is feeding my creative juices. Scenes unfold. Characters act as if in a movie with the soundtrack playing. I sit in the theatre of my mind- surround sound stereo blasting out.

And the soundtrack grows along with the book or screenplay. I currently have sixty-nine songs in the soundtrack of my current project and I am only in chapter two!

I will also try to arrange the song list in an order that outlines the story. A true soundtrack. I am constantly tweaking it- trying to build an audio narrative. Since an author lives with their story throughout the creative process- this adds a wonderful element while I am not actually writing. It keeps it alive and evolving.

This may or may not work for every writer. I know some writers must work in total silence. I MUST have music playing when I write. It may work for you during the outline or note making stage. Try it. Dig though your LPs, 45s, CDs or mp3s and create an aural representation of your story. Then sit back, close your eyes and watch your tale unfold!


  1. Michael, I also use music but my fix is classical. I have this love of the 1812 Overture and that helps me get to the end. Swan Lake brings our the emotional lows. Other pieces also are big. I hit mostly CDs but they play as I word.

  2. Very interesting. I usually prefer quiet when I write, but in my WIP the kids play Elvis (that's another story) so I've been listening to CDs to see which songs fit the mood of the scene. It is inspiring. May try other music with other manuscripts. Nice post, Michael.