Sunday, 31 January 2010

Music to Write by: The Emotional Death Scene

Welcome to the second installment of suggestions for music to writer by. This week the focus is on writing the death scene.

Death scenes can be overdone, think of those old western films with the hero dying in the arms of his friend and managing the words 'tell Mamma I love her'. Obviously this is the type of thing you want to avoid, unless you are aiming for something comical.

What you need to be aiming for is to rouse the emotion in your reader but not to make it cheesey. Remember this scene, in a similar way to a love scene, will either bring an end to ongoing events or could cause further events as a consequence.

Before you write the death scene itself you must develop the right kind of relationship between the reader and your characters. It is this that will have the most influence on how the reader reacts to the death scene. Remember if your reader does not care for a character they will not find their death emotional.

Once you are confident you have built your characters enough you can aim to get the right note for your death scene. Try to put delve into your emotions, and instill this into your writing.

On to the music suggestions, my first suggestion is Imagine by John Lennon. It may be an obvious choice but listening to this song and the words should hopefully stir within you the appropriate emotions. The Scientist by Coldplay also has some strong lyrics and a soft melody. Personally I have always found White Flag by Dido an emotional song and I would imagine this would be appropriate listening to get you in the mood.

Other suggestions for you to try are:

Mad World by Gary Jules
Everybody Hurts by REM
My Immortal by Evanescence
Take me Somewhere Nice by Mogwai
These Are The Days of Our Lives by Queen
Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen

Friday, 22 January 2010

Music to Write by: The Passionate Love Scene

The passionate love scene is a classic and usually key to the story and development of the characters. Often it is the climax, excuse the pun, to a building of emotions and scene setting. Despite its importance it is often and easily done badly.

There are various reasons why as scene can be done badly. Sometimes the very importance of a scene can make it difficult to write because we put pressure on ourselves to get it right. What makes a love scene more difficult is the inhibition needed for such writing.

As people we naturally find sex, nudity and passion somewhat embarrassing and as long as we feel that way we will let our own embarrassment hinder how we write.

The whole idea of this time of scene is the freedom the characters have, how they give into their desires and open themselves up. As a writer, in order to do this successfully you have to be able to put yourself in the same mood and forget embarrassment. Hopefully the right type of music to get you in the appropriate frame of mind is a good start.

'Your Hands Are Cold' from the movie Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly is a good start and should get your heart pumping.
'Bad Things' by Jace Everett and made famous by the True Blood series has catchy erotic lyrics. 'Wicked Game' by Chris Isaak is a haunting classic.
'With or Without You' by U2 is another classic powerful song.

For more of a romantic love scene try 'Colourblind' by Counting Crows or
The Fray's 'Look After You' .

The key thing is to be in the right mindset in order to right the scene and not to sensor it or tone it down either. That can be done later in editing. Feel passionate about the scene and put it all down in the first draft.

Happy Writing


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Music to Write by

Welcome to the second blog of the week, which means I'm doing well and keeping with my January 'new start' spirit.

I feel as a writer it is important to make use of the tools around us and one tool that can be found throughout our lives is music. Not only is music enjoyable and condenses various emotions, statements and beliefs into a couple of minute but it can also stir feelings and passions within it's listeners.

Music can be used in two fantastic ways in writing. Firstly it can be a quick and easy way to encourage you to actually get some writing done. Everyone from time to time needs a bit of a kick up the rear to get some work done and I find the best method is in having a feeling of determination and drive and music can be a quick and easy way to generate this.

Listening to something such as Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' or U2's 'Beautiful Day' can get you motivated and in the right frame of mind to do something productive and it can be any song that works for you, it doesn't have to be upbeat. If you love Classical music try 'Nessun Dorma', it can be anything that makes you WANT to write.

Even if you are struggling to progress in a current piece and your issue is not doing the writing but knowing what to write you may still find this useful. Hopefully inspiring yourself with a feeling of motivation should help you work through any issues.

Music can also be used in the creative process itself. The amazing thing about music is its ability to express emotion and there is no reason this can not be tapped into for the creative process.

If you are writing a particularly emotional scene about the death of a character listening to music that portrays this will allow you to get in the appropriate mindset. You probably won't be able listen to the song while writing the scene without distraction but taking a few minutes to listen to an appropriate song beforehand could be helpful to the creative process and it allows you to fantasise about the soundtrack for when your book is turned into a film.

The only problem all this is of course is its potential to be a hindrance rather than a help. If you spend half your writing time scouring the Internet for appropriate songs for an argument scene then it is defeating the object. Always remember: do not get distracted by your tools, they are there merely for you to get the job done! But, to make life easier and procrastination less likely over the next few weeks I will be posting songs appropriate for various scenes or emotions.

Do not neglect the numerous tools we have available to us to inspire us as writers. Iain Banks stated in an interview with Jools Holland several years ago that he listens to music when writing. It is about whatever works, but remember, whether it's music, books or films that inspire you it should only ever be that, inspiration is good, copyright breach, which can be done unintentionally, is very bad. So always be careful that you are not 'overly inspired'.

Happy Writing



Monday, 11 January 2010

Writing Aims for 2010

Now eleven days into the New Year most of us will, by now, have broken our overly optimistic New Year resolutions. With that out of your system, now is therefore a good time to be making serious writing commitments and aims. Not just an ill-thought ambition on the whim of it being the 1st of January, but an actual plan as to what you want to achieve this year.

To evaluate what you want to be aiming for you first must establish what it is you have already achieved, reasonable enough when you think about it. Think back to this time last year and what you were hoping to achieve in 2009, try not to let knowledge about what you did do influence this. It may be that in January 2009 you never actually put any aims in place but chances are you had a round about idea regarding what you wanted to achieve in the year.

Secondly, make a list of what it was you did achieve in 2009. Have a think through all publications you have had, stories/poems/articles you have completed, new groups you have become a part of and improvements to your writing itself. Spend a good amount of time on this, there are often achievements that we easily forget like keeping a regular blog.

Once you have made your list compare it to what you had hoped to achieve. Did you achieve more or less or about the same? Think about why this is. If you have not achieved everything you had hoped were your goals too high or did you not commit to them enough? If you have achieved more than you aimed congratulate yourself, did you work hard to achieve this?

At this point you will be ready to put in place some firm writing aims for 2010. Think about what you did well in and how you could do better, do you need to better schedule your writing sessions? Be realistic about what you can achieve but push yourself too. If you got two articles published in 2009 then aim for four this year.

Finally, make sure you write down your 2010 writing aims and at the start of each month glance through it, if you do this you will be more likely to achieve them. It also means you can keep updating your list throughout the year, if for example you are completing your aims quicker than expected you will be able to add more so you always have something to work towards.

Do keep a copy of your original list and then, with any luck, you can go over it this time next year and be able to say you achieved them all.

Happy Writing