Tag Archives: music

A Musical Secret

8 Jun

By Sammy Bina

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We’ve had plenty of articles about the importance of outlining here at LTWF, but today I thought I’d throw one more at you. Something a little out of left field, if you will. Something different. Because when it comes to outlining, I’ve never been a fan. In fact, I pretty openly despise it. Only recently have I been somewhat converted to the monstrosity known as the Detailed Outline (meaning I’ve only done it for one book); in every other instance (including the novel I actually made a Detailed Outline for), I’ve gone about things a bit differently.

My secret? I outline using music.

Writers are inspired by all sorts of things. Maybe for you it’s a conversation you overheard on the subway, or a really incredible piece of art. Maybe your ideas come to you while you’re in the shower, or in the middle of taking an exam. For me, music’s always been my muse. I tend to write my novels as if they were movies — I can see them play out in my head and, more importantly, can imagine the soundtrack playing faintly in the background. Ironically, I can’t write with music playing, but it’s a huge factor in actually getting me to write.

Allow me to explain how this all works.

Step 1: I get an idea for a novel. For realism’s sake, we’ll use my current WIP as an example.

Step 2: I open iTunes. That’s right — before I even open Word, I’ve got to get a playlist started. I even come bearing an example:

As you can see, this is the playlist for SILENCE. It’s still growing, but the initial playlist, before I even began writing, consisted of about 20 songs. Because the story’s very melancholy and quiet, I put together a compilation of songs that I thought would work well to set the tone. For example: William Fitzsimmons, Peter Bradley Adams, and a bunch of instrumentals.

Step 3: Start writing.

Step 4: Add songs to playlist. As new scenes are written, I try to imagine what song might be playing in the background if it were actually a movie. Most of the time the song actually inspires the scene, but sometimes it’s the other way around. For example, I consider SILENCE’s theme song to be If You Would Come Back Home by William Fitzsimmons, which is at the very top of the playlist. It isn’t directly related to any scene, but I always listen to it before I start editing. It really helps me sink back into the story and how I felt when I was writing it. Some people set the mood for a romantic evening at home. Me? I set the mood for a romantic evening with me and my computer.

Pivotal scenes often get more than one song. In the first chapter of SILENCE, the main character has a flashback to the night her parents died. The scene initially starts with a song from Yann Tiersen’s Amelie score, but as the tension grows, it turns into a song from Mansfield Park. Different instruments lend themselves to certain feelings, and in some cases, instrumentals aren’t even good enough. Sometimes you need lyrics. My soundtracks are so random and mismatched, but somehow, it just works.

By the time I’m done with a story (written and edited), the playlist is usually between 30 and 50 songs. It really depends on how scene-specific I get. SILENCE is a bit more like that, while my playlist for THE AGE OF NEVER GROWING OLD is more generic and mood-setting than anything. It all depends on the story. All I know is that this is the only real way I can outline. I start associating songs and lyrics with specific scenes or characters. The first novel I wrote had a pretty short playlist (short being 25 songs), but every time one of those comes up on my shuffle, I’m still reminded of scenes I wrote nearly a decade ago. Music sticks with you, which is why I think it’s been such an effective tool for me. So for those of you who are like me and are having trouble outlining, maybe give the musical route a go. If anything, you’ll get an awesome playlist out of it!

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Sammy Bina graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and interned for the Elaine P. English literary agency in Washington D.C.. She is currently editing her YA dystopian, SILENCE. You can follow her blog or find her on twitter.

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Fandom – Lady Gaga Parody of Paparazzi

5 May

by Savannah J. Foley

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Firstly, it’s been a weird week. Bin Laden was killed, Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, and north Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes. It’s weird to think that the area I live in is now considered a ‘Disaster Zone.’ My family and I are fine, but we were without power for 5 days (except for the three where I skipped town and went to Disney World, lol). At one point during the storm I was huddled in the bathtub with my cat and my laptop, which really shows you my priorities. But I was NOT going to let my stories get destroyed; if they went I was going too.

Anyway, the power outage was not only sad and stinky, but agonizing because I’m in the middle of revisions on Nameless. I was also in the middle of working on a special side project, which I am pleased to be able to share with you today. It’s a parody of the Lady Gaga song Paparazzi called Fandom. The parody is about a writer’s fandom and their dedication to the writer’s work. I wrote the lyrics and -eep!- sung the song. Hopefully it’s not too terrible.

For a long time I have thought about writing and singing songs for writers – songs about inspiration, editing, writer’s block, etc. However, I lack the vocal talent and I don’t play any instruments, so that project has pretty much been postponed indefinitely. Parodying is my way of reaching out, of bonding both with the original creator and my intended audience (in my imagination). Let’s just say that a lot of my car rides are dedicated to singing and coming up with parody lyrics about writing 🙂

I hope you enjoy this, and also that I don’t make your ears bleed.

…I’m only half-joking.

-Savannah

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We are the fans
We’re making a stand
Got my blog on, it’s true
We’re all supporting you

It’s so magical
Your words are fantastical

At your release day
You’ll be amazed at our sway
A million sold overnight
You’ll cry at the sight

We’re your devotees
As long as you make books to read
Cause you know that baby we

[Chorus] We’re your biggest fans
And we all support your work in tandem
Fa-an, Fa-a-andom
You’ll be a best seller
Your success will not be random
Fa-an,-Fa-a-andom
Promise I’ll be true
Go to your signings until I meet you
Don’t know if you know
So I’m sending out this memorandum
Fa-an, Fa-a-andom

I’ll be that fan
Converting woman and man
Make them buy all your books
Cause you’re words have me hooked

In between release dates
You know that I can hardly wait

We’d kill for your ARCs
We drew you tons of fan art
From your work can’t be apart
You know in all of our hearts

We’re your devotees
And we love all your trilogies
Cause you know that baby we

[Chorus]

Waiting
In line at the bookstore
Flip through
Your latest hardcover
Can’t stop
Until we’re done
Your books are all
So! Much! Fun!

[Chorus]

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

“I hear music…Mighty fine music…”

14 Apr

By Sarah J. Maas

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I think the question I get asked most when I tell people that I’m a writer (or when I tell them what QUEEN OF GLASS is about) is: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Most of the time, it’s music.

QUEEN OF GLASS, as some of you might remember, was inspired by roughly 60 seconds of music from the score to Disney’s CINDERELLA. While listening to the track that plays while Cinderella flees the ball, I thought music was way too dark and intense to accompany the scene. The music fit much better when I imagined a thief—no, an assassin!—fleeing the palace. But who was she? Who had sent her to kill the prince? Who might the prince’s enemies be? A powerful, corrupt empire, perhaps? And thus Celaena Sardothien, the heroine of QUEEN OF GLASS, was born.

My other novels have arisen from similar origins. Sometimes, it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time. Meaning, reading exactly the kind of book that inspires me to write in the first place, then randomly listening to a piece of music that triggers my creative juices, and then BAM: idea. Sometimes the ideas are stronger than others. While listening to this track, the idea for A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (my YA “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, in which “Beauty” is a huntress, and the “Beast” is a faerie lord with a mask permanently attached to his face) hit me like a brick to the face. I saw the opening scene to the novel with perfect clarity, heard Feyre’s voice as if it were my own…And then the whole novel spread before me.

Usually, music plays two roles after I get the initial idea: figuring out the opening and figuring out the ending. Without fail, those are the two things I need (personally) to sort out the rest of the novel. And sometimes, in order for me to figure it out, it means I need to sit in front of my computer and click through song after song. Sometimes it’ll strike me when I least expect it: driving in the car, zoning out on a plane, going for a walk—but with all of them, music is usually playing, shooting image after image into my mind, narrating the twists and turns of a scene, guiding my characters’ actions and voices.

When my creativity juices dry up, I’ll turn on my iTunes and just let it play through one of my playlists until the ideas start flowing again. I also have soundtracks that I turn to when I need inspiration—not for specific ideas, but just to feel something stirring under the surface of my conscience…simply to know that ideas are there, just waiting for the right bit of music to bring them out.

So, what have I been listening to lately? It’s been all over the place, to be honest (the new KARATE KID soundtrack, the TANGLED soundtrack, the PREDATORS soundtrack…).

Yesterday, I listened to this piece from the DRAG ME TO HELL soundtrack practically on repeat.

 

The original source of the music doesn’t indicate the kind of story I’m working on (so don’t expect any horror/demonic haunting novels out of me anytime soon), but it definitely speaks to the FEELING I’m trying to evoke. Dark, beautiful, terrifying—listening to the piece made me wonder where those feelings might fit into QUEEN OF GLASS, or ACOTAR…It also made me wonder what kind of NEW story might fit that music (again, not horror)—in what world would that music belong? What kind of character would that music embody? What sort of personal history would that character need to have in order for the music to fit their personality?

Someone really pretentious once said something along the lines of:  “My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.” And you know what? While it might be a pretentious as all hell, it’s also partially correct if you apply it to imagination (instead of intellect). I think there’s real creative magic in hearing the same piece of music over and over and finding something different it every time—in finding all of the different images and stories between the notes.

That’s just me, though. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone (I know people who are inspired by art, or movies, or nature, or the people around them). But maybe the next time you’re feeling a bit stuck with your writing, turn on iTunes, close your eyes, and listen. You never know what ideas might sing to you.

~

What about you guys? Does music play a huge role in influencing your creativity and/or stories? What particular pieces inspire you?

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in fall 2012. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

 

Happy Holidays from LTWF – With a song!

24 Dec

We know many of you will be busy or traveling over this weekend, so we thought we’d leave you with an inspiring, holiday-themed song parody, sung by Susan, with lyrics by Savannah!

Question of the Week: Theme Songs

29 Jan

Music has been a hot topic for the LTWF team this week, so we figured we should have a relevant QotW! So, today, our question is:

If you had to pick one “theme song” for your novel, what would it be?

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My current WIP was inspired by the song “Supergirl” by Saving Jane. But the novel I just completed (my first one yet!) was inspired by the ENTIRE movie soundtrack of ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE. It’s really hard for me to choose a song from that album that perfectly fits the novel, but this song and this song heavily helped me write the novel.

The Writer Who Just Finished Her First Novel

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It’s impossible for me to pinpoint “theme song” for QUEEN OF GLASS, though the entire series sprang up from listening to the first 60 seconds of this piece of music from Disney’s CINDERELLLA soundtrack. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES bloomed before my eyes after listening to “The Demon God” track from the PRINCESS MONONOKE score–I heard it, and instantly knew how the book would begin, and what the tone would be.

HADES is the only book of mine with a theme song. I think “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay fits it perfectly–especially the lyrics.

The Writer Waiting On Submissions

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I would pick Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ (movement 1 Allegro non molto) for my historical romance, THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN. When I began writing TRC two years ago, this piece was in my playlist, and though I’ve removed and added new songs to my list, ‘Winter’ has always remained. And it was actually this piece I was listening to while writing an outline for my book. Each note in ‘Winter’ struck a chord in my heart, flashed scenes before my eyes, of a fallen woman lost in the glamorous, yet decadent Regency society. Ahhh! It’s heartbreakingly lovely. There’s something about Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ that sends a shiver down my spine each time I listen to it.

The Writer Who Got Two Partial Requests

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I haven’t found it yet! The work showcases three points of view, and they’re all quite different, so instead of one song, here are three songs; one for each protagonist. Only Mary’s character “voice” was inspired by music, by the song I chose for her. Ingrid’s and Annie’s songs are ones that remind me of them, but neither character was inspired by any kind of music.

For Ingrid: “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down (Liam on Vocals),” by Oasis.

For Annie: “Hope For The Hopeless,” by A Fine Frenzy

For Mary: (funnily enough) “Ingrid’s Lament,” from Peer Gynt Suite No.2, by Edvard Grieg.

The Brand-New LTWF Contributor!

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My WIP was inspired by “Believe Me Natalie” by The Killers. My most famous work, ANTEBELLUM, would probably be best described by “Be Your Love” by Rachael Yamagata.

The Writer Also Waiting on Submissions

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As you can tell, we have someone NEW on our LTWF team!!! Even though it’s not too hard to figure out, she’ll have her LTWF debut next Wednesday!