Friday, April 24, 2009

Novel Writing is to Songwriting As...

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

This past week, I discovered a relationship between my novel writing and my songwriting.

This is pretty unusual for me. I've been writing songs for, oh, 20 years or something, and I've been writing novels for 12 or so. In general, I believe there's a time for learning and a time for doing, and when it comes to these two crafts, I do more than I learn these days.

But I learned something this past week.

I learned it as I was reading a finished draft of my novel manuscript. I thought I was closer to being done with this novel, but as I read it I realized I still have some drafts to go before I can call it finished.

No light at the end of the tunnel for now, but at least there's no train coming.

My biggest gripe with my manuscript is this: I feel like the language is flat. This is a problem I've battled with over the years, working not just to tell a story but to make the words come alive, to make my prose sound not so prosaic.

And it stuck me that the most important part of a novel, to me, is its language. This is more important than plot, or conflict, or character, or setting or anything else that goes into a novel.

Moreover, language is, for me, a novel's reason for existing. If you're not looking to tell a story with fresh language, there are plenty of other ways to tell it. You can write your story as a play and have it produced. You can draw cartoons, or compose a series of paintings, or tell the story orally, to name just a few possibilities.

But if you want to tell a story using only language, then by all means write a novel, or short story, or a narrative poem.

That was when it hit me.

I realized I felt similarly about an aspect of songs, especially pop songs. To me, a song's reason for existing is its melody.

I don't care so much about the words, or the chords, or the accompaniment, or the production as much as I do the melody line.

As a matter of fact, you can be some dork singing the song while prancing around in a silly costume and swinging from the ceiling and, if the melody line is great, I'll still like it.

So, that's my big revelation.

A song's raison d'etre is its melody line, and a novel's raison d'etre is its language. On either, we can forgive just about anything else.

Yours in laying down the law,


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Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix

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