Thursday, December 22, 2005
Song Lyrics--Part 4
Yesterday in her comment, Becky said she didn't feel nearly as empathetic with the guys (she called them "clowns"!) in the song we're looking at as I evidently felt. But, she admitted, maybe that's because she hadn't heard the song. She said: Doesn't the music play a significant part in how we feel in a song? And maybe in novel writing too, if we pay attention to creating lyrical prose???
Yes, a valid point. After all, in a song, the venue is the tune. If I don't like the music, I'm probably not going to listen to a song just for its lyrics. This song "The Right Side of Wrong" put me in the mood to listen to its lyrics in the first place by starting with a slow, ballad-type tune. Well, I happen to like rock ballads, so when I heard that, I was ready to listen.
Becky's right that this can translate into novel writing. A great story idea and even great characters can still make for a poorly executed novel if we don't learn the craft well. How do we put readers in the mood in the very first page, even paragraph, to listen to our story? By writing with a strong voice, a voice with authority, that you can believe. And there ain't no quick way of obtaining such a thing. Years of practice is what it takes.
Becky used the term lyrical prose as the thing to strive for. Yes, I'd agree creating lyrical prose helps give a writer a strong voice. It's just that folks may interpret that phrase in different ways. (And, Becky, I'm not sure what your interpretation is.) To me lyrical prose means the unusual turn of phrase, descriptions using metaphor and simile, story with embedded symbolism, etc. That's great stuff and makes for good writing, as long as the "lyrical prose" isn't a means unto itself. An author can easily wax too eloquent in a phrase, and in so doing, diminish the emotional impact. I think in the end lyrical prose (as I define it) has to be mixed with strong characterization and story structure. These together give an author that authoritative voice that pulls readers along.
So maybe the rest of you out there, who've never heard "The Right Side of Wrong", were like Becky. Sheesh, I didn't care about those guys; I thought they were idiots. How funny. Guess it's kinda like reading ho-hum back cover copy, then listening to someone else rave about how great the book was and thinking, Huh? Didn't sound like much to me.
Comparing a song to a novel also reminds us that no way are we going to please everyone. Those of you who hate rock music, or at least this particular artist, wouldn't listen to the song we've discussed if someone paid you. Couldn't care less what it has to say, either. Just ain't your cup of tea. Doesn't make it a bad song; it's just not for you. Unfortunately, that's all too true for our novels. The fair readers will say, "Well, the book may have merit; it's just not my kind of story." The unfair readers will say your novel is terrible just because they don't like the genre.
I'm wrapping up this discussion today, but I would like to see your comments. If you want to continue the topic further, you can take it over to the discussion board. Although I'm thinkin' at this point our thoughts are turning to Christmas and all the presents we haven't yet bought, and the guests about to arrive.
I will post tomorrow, then will take next week off. Tomorrow's post will wrap up this year and talk a little about what you can expect next year from this blog. Hard to believe I've been blogging for almost a year now. I'll also ask for any ideas you might have for this blog in '06.