Monday, July 4, 2011

Writing to a Soundtrack... and an announcement!


Okay, announcement first.  On Friday, on the bus home from work, I completed the first draft of Ugly Stick, my second (yes, SECOND) novel!  What a great feeling!  I looked around at all the other bus riders, wanting to rocket into the aisle and announce that they had all witnessed the conclusion of an artistic undertaking... but the Pittsburgh buses have enough crazy people, and most of the sane ones wear earphones anyway, so I waited until I got to my house to celebrate. =)

I had originally hoped to finish Ugly Stick's rough draft by the end of August, when fall term starts for my Master's program, but June turned into a writing marathon (about 75 pages -- very fast for me).  Now, though, I will have the rest of the summer to revise, polish, and receive criticism from my highly talented pool of beta readers: fellow writers, my mother and teenage family members, and various wonderful supportive friends.  Thanks in advance, everybody!

As for "Writing to a Soundtrack," it is something that really helped me through the completion of this manuscript draft.  Writing in a first-person narrative for the first time in a full-length novel allowed me to get so much deeper into the protagonist's personality and shifting mindset throughout the story.  Sometimes (especially when writing around a ton of strangers on public transport), it can be difficult to dive in and out of that persona.

So what's a writer to do?  I used my other great artistic love, MUSIC, of course!  For several segments of the story, I picked a song that represented, both in style and theme, my protagonist April's frame of mind at that point.

For example, at the beginning of Ugly Stick, when April is outwardly insecure and inwardly sarcastic at her high school, I chose "Grace Kelly" by Mika.  The sassy retro-rock sound alongside the chorus of "Why don't you like me/why don't you like me/why don't you walk out the door!" put me in the perfect writing point of view and mood for writing those scenes.

In contrast, towards the end of the story (spoiler alert!), when April has developed the confidence to appreciate her own inner beauty and that of the people around her, I looped Bruno Mars' earnest and heart-thumping "Just the Way You Are" on my headphones to drown out the noise of downtown and focus on her excitement and satisfaction.  I kept it playing as I wrote the final scene -- what a great feeling!

How about you, fellow writers?  Have you ever used a song as inspiration when writing a scene or chapter?  And fellow readers, are there any songs which remind you of moments in a favorite book?  If so, what?

1 comment:

  1. Fun post, my dear! I have a great mental picture now of you on the bus, notebook in hand, headphones in place, scribbling away. :) And yes, in answer to your question. For my last manuscript, Regina Spektor helped me get into my MC's voice. LOVE that artist.