Friday, December 15, 2006

Ideas from music

A question writers often hear is "Where do you get your ideas?" This is such a common question that many authors moan about hearing it. The simple answer is: Our ideas come from our imagination. We allow our minds to wander, to ask questions, to put together things that normally wouldn't be put together.

Another simple answer, for me, is music, specifically pop or rock music.

I have next to no musical talent. I can't read music very well (though I can kind of figure it out on a guitar or keyboard). I can only play about two strings on a guitar. And I can find the center of a piano keyboard and thump my fingers around a little. I've also been known to smack some sticks on a drum a little.

But really, I have no musical talent. Lucky for me, I also have no musical ambition.

However, I do have big interests in music, emotionally and nostalgically. I also often get story ideas while riding down the road listening to a tune. The music itself often puts me into one mood or another, many of those moods being good emotionally for my writing, but I also love great lyrics. Often, the lyrics combined with the right sounds will give me ideas for a short story or two that rumble around in my head.

I'll offer a couple of vague examples (vague because I don't want to give away any story ideas):

"Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel. I'm guessing I'm the only writer to listen to Simon and Garfunkel and get an idea for a horror story. The first words to the song are "Hello, darkness ..." That alone is enough to get my mind working.

"The River" by Bruce Springsteen. "The River" is basically a story in itself, a sad tale of one man and his lost dreams, though you're never really sure what those dreams exactly were. For some reason, this song always puts me in mind of some hard-boiled action, possibly a protagonist with lost dreams and he's found a rough-and-tumble way to find those dreams again. Usually, a gun is involved.

1 comment:

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Man, am I getting into soundtracks now! Researching non-vocal music has led me to some very cool tunes! I'll have to let you know what I pick up as time goes by. Thanks for the Conan tip!