Writing with Music: Going Dark

While I haven’t talked much about my actual writing process, one thing is almost always a constant – music.

Music lets me see, hear, breathe the atmosphere I’m trying to get across on the page. It helps me pace a scene, lengthening sentences to build tension, or speeding up when a character is about to get into trouble. Sometimes, a song will crystallize a character or event so perfectly, that the rest of the scene flows around it like it has a life of its own.

TL;DR – If you’re having problems getting into a scene, or suffering from blank page syndrome, listening to music can be a good way to help you visualize the section and get started.  Don’t believe me? Well, it’s time to experiment!

 

Here’s how this works – I’ll post a link to a song on Youtube, along with a couple of prompts or ideas to get you started. This is not necessarily to make you write more, but to get your brain juices flowing. If it turns into a new idea you want to flesh out later, great! Practice is perfect, and this is just another method to help get the practice in. Think of it as a writing prompt.

I have some… eclectic musical tastes. Even if the song I post isn’t your style, it should jog your memory enough to spit out one that’s more your speed while making you think about the same mood/atmosphere/tone.  *Sometimes I may post a second song; this isn’t to make you do two exercises, but so you have another option if the main song is too heavy/crude for you.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

Vacuity by Gojira

(Side note: I personally don’t like the bridge that follows the second chorus, so I usually just repeat the first two minutes)

 

The theme this week is Going Dark. Here are some sample prompts:

– write a scene where a monster or beast hunts a victim; alternatively, a scene where a character is fleeing something/someone

– a scene where your antagonist (or protagonist!)  gets his/her hands dirty

– someone watching a violent storm or other act of god approaching a shore, destroying an island village, or ripping through a city

 

*Alternate video – Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace

 

Take five or ten minutes, and see what you come up with. Where does the song take you? What kind of scene did you write? In that scene, what does the character (or narrator) see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Did you get a sense of urgency or anger? Or did the song(s) bring out an atmosphere of fear or foreboding?

I hope this helps, at least to spur some new ideas if it doesn’t warm you up for a work-in-progress. Remember, too, that whatever you jotted down doesn’t have to be perfect, shouldn’t be perfect. Draft quickly, cut it all up and sew it back together later.

Since I’m the instigator of this, I’ll share a snippet from my messy tidbit.

 

“Up now. Time to catch the tide.”

“Have you lost your mind? Those things are out there!”

“Hah. That noise you hear is coming from behind us, gaining fast.”

“The floor is swaying beneath my feet, so much that I might not even make it to the boat without losing the fare my little coin could get.”

“Oh no boy. That smacking you feel b’neath you is the Lord of the seas ‘imself.”

“So he’s trying to kill me too?”

“Nah, he’s keeping them at arm’s length. But we hafta go now. I don’t have that much favor with the beast.”

“What kind of beast?”

“The Kraken, man. Who else could rule the seas?”

This is a really bare-bones example of my jotting. I mainly wanted to get the dialogue and important details down before I forgot them. It will be easy to go back later and add character names, action tags, and flesh out the scene since the gist of it is solidified in my head now.

*If you like the exercise, what you wrote, or have a suggestion for the next installment, feel free to leave a comment!

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