The Muse in Our Music: How Sound Inspires Story

*Originally published on I Came For The Soup… June 23, 2014

“…music is the water that takes potentiality and turns it into a tangible substance.”

Music, whether it is just background noise or a tool used to build the plots of my written works, has always been a big part of my creative process, and it always will be.

Whenever I write, whenever I create visual art, I always allow my ‘ear gates’ to be open. With writing, there is, of course, the ‘eye gate’ that we all use in order to aid in the imagery of our stories giving our creations a place to tread upon. Visual stimulus is a fantastic seed, that when planted in the right creative soil, can hold the potential of yielding a magnificent literary harvest.

But sound, music, music is the water that takes potentiality and turns it into a tangible substance.

Song and sound are the creative vibrations that resonate in the deepest part of our soul, spirit, and imagination. Song shifts the atmosphere around us, changes our mood, directs our minds.

Music is the inspirational tool that we all use on a daily basis whether we realize it or not. The sound of fan blades blowing in your ears at night helps you to sleep. The sound of rain, thunder, and lightning help you to relax and for me, create.

Music keys are Keys that unlock the doors to our created worlds and the hearts and minds of our characters.

Love songs put us in a loving mood. Angry songs make us want to break things. When we struggle to connect with our emotions, music, be it with words or just instrumentals, help us to say and express what needs to be said and expressed in the moment when our own words fail us.

With each novel that I have sat down to write, I have leaned on specific tunes to meditate on in order to “get my head in the game,” if you will. Not only does the music remind me of the story and place me right in the center of the plot, but it gets my inner-man, my creative man, in touch with the emotion and mood of the scene. Most importantly, it helps me get into the heads of my characters.

Without doing this, getting into the characters’ heads and hearts, there would be no story to tell. Music is the bridge that brings our worlds together.

Music is a language all its own. It has a sound and it has a script. It has to be learned for literacy but even without literacy we all come tuned to understand what is being said. The beauty of it is that the lyrics can be saying something contrary to the story it births in us.

For each story that I have written, there is a different soundtrack or sound map. The keys within the songs help me unlock each character. Sometimes I focus on one specific character and through their unveiling, I see into the hearts of the other characters around them.

Just like us, our characters are people too. They are complex, they are layered, and like symphonies, they have highs and lows, drama and peace.

Create an atmosphere of sound for yourself and your stories. Let the music and sound speak and be sure to listen.

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”  ~William H. Gass

How to Tackle NaNoWriMo: My Advice To You (Day 5 of Countdown)

There are now less than 24 hours left before the worldwide writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo begins! Before you begin, I would like to give you my last token of creative advice.

CREATE A SOUNDTRACK FOR YOUR NOVEL

Now, I imagine that this may have you thinking of soundtrack in the same way one thinks of a movie soundtrack. Well, that is not exactly what I am referring to here.

Movie soundtracks are designed to lead the audience in a specific emotional direction while watching the movie unfold. If a romantic scene is on the horizon, cue the sexy music. If suspense, then in comes the music that gets your pulse racing.

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With the soundtrack for your novel,  collect tracks that get you into the head of your characters and reminds you of the spirit of your story as a whole.

Now there are songs that you can gather that help you to build certain scenes, similar to the way movies do, and those are helpful as well.

For me, I generally have specific songs for each of my characters. This helps me to keep every one authentic. Writing a novel in 30 days can cause a bit of character confusion if you are not careful. Soundtracks per person can help eliminate that.

HOW TO USE THE SOUNDTRACK:

Remember music is a muse. When I need to let my mind rest and my fingers stretch from a long stint of typing, I use this time to sit back, close my eyes, and listen to the songs that I’ve gathered that reminded me of my characters and my plotline.

This way, even while resting, I am still allowing my imagination to keep working on the story.

Think of it as an imaginative interlude and meditation. And trust me, it helps a lot.

A COUPLE OF BONUSES!

If you have time, check out sample chapters to my next novel, but FIRST EVER 30-Day Novel, WARDEN  (eBook and Paperback COMING SOON!)

Check-in next week for  The Muse in the Music, just to give you a deeper dive into how music shapes our creative process.

BUT…

Should music not be the muse and medicine that you need to keep in tune with your characters (pun not intended) then try this writing prompt that I created, Coffee With Character…or Tea. The exercise is all about getting to know each individual character in your story on a more personal level.

For instance, knowing your character likes to wear red socks on Monday may not be something you add to the story itself but it is something that helps you, the writer, build the world of their personality. It’s an intimate nuance that sheds greater light on their behaviors.

As laughable as it may seem, a person that specific with something as trivial as sock color will be less prone to certain behaviors, while apter in yielding to others.

FINAL 5-DAY CREATIVE ADVICE RECAP

So here is another brief recap of NaNo Tokens:

TIP 1. Write anything. Let your imagination take control. (Click HERE for full article)

TIP 2. Have a reader who will look over your daily progress with an honest reader’s eye, and give you feedback. (Click HERE for full article)

TIP 3. Set a daily word count goal that you can manage. (Click HERE for full article

TIP 4. Keep a “SPICE RACK”  of ideas  and scenes in a separate word document

TIP 5. Create a playlist that reminds you of your characters and plot, that you can meditate on during downtime.

BONUS: Check out my debut novel, NEXUS GATE 4037: THE ANIMAL, my first published piece born from a 30-day writing marathon like NaNoWriMo, both in eBook and Paperback.

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eBOOK AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

Most importantly, just have fun. Write because you can. Write because you want to, and write because your imagination is worth the time to share!

Cheers! and Happy NaNoWriMo!

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” ~DORIS LESSING