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.


Camy Tang said...

The point about hearing the music to fully feel the story--isn't that related to the reading pace and sentence rhythm? The "music" of a novel might be how the writer paces the reader using words and flow, like a river.

A flowery novel has a different flow than a tense-filled suspense. The rhythm sets the reader up for how the writer will manipulate the emotional elements.


Karen Eve said...

At first reading the words of the song without music left me cold. I just thought these guys were stupid. Then when you added some 'music' in description of what was going on, I began to understand the emotions and why you would care for these foolish people. I think that's what we do with words, is create music, a background for our story. By necessity, music is poetic, fairly short, and fairly repetitive. Music in itself also weave emotions and creates mood.

Not to make anyone jealous, but I finished my shopping and wrapping on Monday night. Everything is now neatly boxed or stack waiting to go to my daughter's house for Christmas. I am blessed to have both my children and their families close by. Brandilyn, thank you so much for the gift that you've given us all year and have a blessed and merry Christmas with your family. The merriest of Christmases to you too fellow BGS.
God Bless you every one. Have a wonderful New Year too and wishing everyone book contracts in 2006! :)

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Yes, I would also add sentence structure and variation as part of the music of a novel, along with the other things you said, Brandilyn.

I'm reading a book now that has ... well, too many, in my estimation, sentences starting with She xxx or She was xxx.Three clumped together in a paragraph makes the read seem ... stodgy.


Unknown said...

Merry Christmas, Brandilyn, and all the bloggers!

Stuart said...

Merry Christmas Brandilyn, thanks for all the great stuff you've blogged this year! Look forward to more great insights and advice in the next one!

Lynette Sowell said...

Okay, call it cheesy but I happen to love country music lyrics. I think something magic happens when the right words in the right combination roll off the tongue--or in a reader's case, the mind. I can see sentence rhythms in writing, either in the sentence structure, how the words 'sound,' or how often certain words appear.

But I also happen to love story songs, like the one you chose. Songwriters have to say a lot with a few words. I admire that.

One of my faves:
(from Lonestar, "Front Porch Looking In")
The only ground I ever owned was sticking to my shoes.
Now I look at my front porch and this panoramic view.
I can sit and watch the fields fill up
With rays of glowing sun
Or watch the moon lay on the fences
Like that's where it was hung.
My blessings are in front of me
It's not about the land
I'll never beat the view
From my front porch looking in

Okay, so I definitely prefer the warm fuzzy to Bon Jovi. :)

Merry Christmas, Brandilyn and fellow BGs...