Music to My Ears

“A book needs to be composed like a symphony, a duet, or a quiet piece of chamber music.  A style and flow must be established.”   —Eric Carle

You can learn a lot about the craft of writing by listening to music.  It’s an enjoyable source of inspiration and one worth exploring.  When you listen to a piece of music that you like, or even better, music that your target audience likes, you might be surprised at what you can learn about pacing, structure, language and creating a mood.  After all, songwriters and musicians employ many of the same craft techniques that writers do.

When I listen to and study music as a source to learn more about the craft of writing, a few of the questions I ask myself are:

  • Does the music move at the same pace all the way through or are there places that it speeds up and then slows down?  Does the mood of the music change when the pace changes?  How?  Is there a connection between pacing and mood?
  • Does the emotion of the music gradually build through the whole piece or does it ebb and flow?
  • Does the melody or refrain repeat itself?  How often?  To what purpose?
  • What is the mood of the music?  How is it achieved?
  • What kind of language is used?  Is it lyrical? Does it rhyme? Is symbolism or metaphor used?

As I try to deconstruct a piece of music, I always discover little insights and ideas that I can bring back to my writing.  If you try this, I guarantee that you will too.  Not only will a good piece of music put a song in your heart, it might just help you do a better job of putting your heart on the page?


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