Funny how these were meant to be about music. Then they end up being about writing. Is that priorities changing, or finding another string to my creative bow?… I hope it’s the second, I’d hate to accidentally give up on the music.
But recently I’ve been thinking hard about the stories, writing stories, and using my “story-writing” abilities from songwriting for writing book(s). Last night I spent, quite probably, nearly the entire night contemplating background support and how relevant it is to stories as well as songs.
With songs, the background is the backing – the cacophony of instruments that the voice (story) sits on – and I realised the obvious (I don’t realise the obvious with music, it’s just too obvious to consider consciously) – that clearly without that backing there is no song, no support, no music – the “story” is bland. Accapella rarely works well – and it doesn’t work at all when you’re pushing particular music genres… Imagine writing hard rock with raging guitars and banging drums! It just wouldn’t be rock – it would be a weirdo screaming strange things, and they would quite probably be carted away to the padded cells.
When I write any, and all, songs, I always start building the entire backing from the beginning, and never move on to the next section until I’ve created the complete sound for that section. Starting at the intro, then the first verse, then chorus (etc, etc), the music is built section by section in its (near) complete form so I immediately have the whole picture of where I’ve been, and subsequently I have a clear idea of where I’m going.
Now in storytelling, surely it must be the same? Without character background and circumstance created at the very least in your head – if not actually mentioned and to be peppered through the book – you surely have little chance of creating anything of substance. Just like if you only put down piano and drums in a song, you’re going to have a very thin story, and support for that story, with just that menial effort. And just like in our own lives, how can we know where we’re going if we don’t really understand where we’ve been?
Ergo I was thinking that to create a decent – and efficient – story, I definitely need to do the equivalent of putting down all the instruments to make a full and complete (ish) backing – only in book-form. By this I mean create full, complete and clear lives, pasts, thoughts and personalities for the characters, and implement them clearly in dialogue, interaction, reaction and character thoughts – especially with the protagonist. And all this to be considered, really, before writing starts. Or shortly afterwards, at least. It’s only in this way will they really come to life and start moving the story themselves.
The one main thing you study in English Lit is obviously character dynamics, character motivation, their reactions and behaviour to circumstances, and their interaction with each other. You’re getting none of this if you don’t bother putting the legwork in first. You’d think after putting the bother into studying it, I’d realise and remember that. Sometimes I’m too lazy to be that bright.
Now I’ve personally so far been very guilty of not quite grasping this concept and been very lazy about such important details – frankly hoping they would just turn up. Naively.
Now I’m going back to the drawing board, to create these characters so I know them as well as their fictitious parents do. I hope it’s going to make my writing a little more coherent and a lot more interesting.
Hoping more that I’ll do a good job and I’m going to get it right.