Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing to Music: A Challenge

There's two concepts I think of when I read this blog post title.

One, playing mood music while you write. I had a playlist on my iPod called "Katie" after the main character in the very first novel I wrote. I can still listen to the songs and immediately recall the feelings, sitting at my computer desk hour after hour creating and recreating Katie's story.

Two, and this is where the challenge & this blog post comes in, listening to instrumental movie music and creating a story to go along with it. Let me explain.

On my iPod I have a playlist called "Movie Instrumentals" that has the soundtracks from some of my favorite movies: Braveheart, Dances with Wolves, Pride and Prejudice, Schindler's List, and the Mission. When I am feeling my creativity stall, I put this playlist on shuffle that way I never know what song/mood/theme/feeling will be conveyed next. Then I create a story in my head, visualizing it as if I were watching a movie and I'm listening to the score. I adjust my story to match the music. Is it soft and quiet? Is it loud and harsh? Is there a country twang to it? What does the music convey and how can I make my "actors" fit those feelings?

The tricky (and fun) part is when the song switches and you suddenly get a downbeat or minor tones and something eery/creepy/sad/tragic/horrifying is happening when you were just moments ago letting two newly made characters hold hands in a park. . . .

There's the challenge. The music is always changing back and forth, and, as long as you have a good mix of soundtracks and classical, you have to stretch your creative muscles to keep your story up with the music and to make as much sense as possible. Of course, sometimes you just scrap the story and start over with the next track, and that's okay.

Want to try it? Here are a few quick examples:

 So listen to each one. What comes to your mind? What's happening? Who is in it? What are they doing? What are they saying? How are they acting? What do they do next? What happens to transition them to the next music? How do you transition them?

Strengthening our creative muscles through visualization activities is a great way to improve your writing. Sure, you may not get any better with your comma placement, but you will have a more active imagination. Plus, giving yourself to create on a whim, on the fly, with no consequence or commitment whatsoever, is a freeing experience. Let go of your boundaries and rules and pencils and laptops for a moment and just be a kid making it up as you go along.

Get the point?

Any questions?

Good. Now go create.

P.S. This is a great way to either lull yourself to sleep at night or to enliven your mind so greatly that you stay up seeing how your story ends... it works both ways for me.

1 comment:

Scott said...

We did a similar exercise in Creative Writing in high school. I wish I still had what I wrote that day. It was pretty weird.