Does Your Story Have A Soundtrack?

Soundtracks. They can be found on T.V. shows, movies, and commercials. Even life has a soundtrack.

Have you ever found yourself doing random things like, cleaning the kitchen, walking down the isle at Wal-Mart, or sitting through the dreaded school conference bored to death and your mind wanders…a random song comes out of no where, yet fits the moment perfectly?

That’s your personal soundtrack. Or laugh track, depends on the moment. LOL!

Every author finds inspiration for their story somehow, be it life experiences, a television program, newspaper article, you know the drill. Music is a big thing in my household. With my husband being a music producer, there are artist coming through at least once a week to record. If not, then he is always working on a new track, playing it for everyone to hear. My son, who recently finished playing in the Youth Orchestra for the Alliance Theater, plays the string bass and bass guitar. Suffice it to say, music is always playing around here, no matter what time of day. Because of that, the combination of my husband and son’s artistic abilities were the bases of one of my main characters in A Heart Not Easily Broken, Brian Young. 

While writing the first book of The Butterfly Memoirs Series, I ran across the perfect song for Brian, Butterfly, by Crazy Town. No the title of the song has nothing to do with the series, just pure coincidence. I’ve been driving my kids crazy – no pun intended – for the past two years listening to this song. It’s the first track on “Mom’s Driving Music’ CD in the car. If I’m driving and a scene is formulating in my head, the poor kids are held hostage as I keep hitting the repeat button over and over again. To bad! It works for me!

The bass line played in this song speaks to me. Brian is a bass guitar player in a band called Diverse Nation. When he meets his love interest, Ebony Campbell, he’s playing in a night club when he spies her dancing in front of the stage. One look and he’s hooked. When I picture this scene in my head, I can imagine him, eyes glued to her curvaceous body as her hips sway, arms held over her head and eyes closed, lost in the music. He is captivated, his fingers strum the bass line while the band does a cover version of the song. Listen to the song…can you picture it?
 

 Another song that inspires me while writing the women in my books is Miss Independent, by Ne Yo.

It sets the stage for the strong female characters I write in my series. In truth, it’s also the type of woman my male leads are looking for. The kind of woman that can stop them in their tracks and make them take stock of what she has to offer. She’s strong, hardworking and has her own goals in mind. She will never be needy, yet always appreciate what the man in her life has to offer.

When editing, I refuse to listen to anything with words. Instead, I pull out my list of instrumentals.While working through my dreaded forty-six word Passive Words/Phrases list, my favorite song to listen to  is Fantasy and Fables, by KTEK.  Follow the link to track number 16. (Shameless promotion, this song was produced by my husband, so if you follow this blog, you MUST listen to it. I promise it won’t disappoint!)

Other songs that have made their way into my writing soundtrack include,  Making Love In the Rain, by Herb Alpert -great for writing love scenes- and Through the Bamboo Forest, a song from the movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, performed by Yo Yo Ma. A hauntingly beautiful song I can feel in my soul, I pull this track out when I’m deep in editing mode and need to ‘be’ my character in order to write what it is they see, think, hear and feel. Since I write in first person, I put my heart and soul into every action and statement made by the characters in order for them to become so realistic, I can hear their thoughts. I put on my headphones and the song on repeat. It’s amazing how focused I get and how much can be accomplished while this song plays.

 

So, these are the songs that fill my head and inspire me while I write. What do you like to listen too? Do your characters have a story that is inspired by a song? Please share!

MJ

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Digital Audio Recording Device + Editing=??????

It’s the end of the week and I’m still editing chapter two of The Healing Heart. I should have been finished by now, but life has caused me to spend less than three hours a day editing and has slowed me down. Oh well, when you have a family of 7 (plus 2 dogs) and responsibilities that are more pressing than writing, it can’t be helped.

The week started off with typing up chapter two from my handwritten manuscript. (Yes, to all who haven’t read my last few blogs, I decided to go ‘old school’ and hand write my MS without using my laptop.  I had my reasons and I’m glad I did). I followed my editing process outline and moved quickly. Then came the emergency trip to the dentist. And my daughter’s volunteer work at the library. Coincidentally, the library is where I had the chance to sit in one spot for a great about of time and actually get some work in. Then came the trips in and out off the house for various reasons which brings us to today……On my plate, a trip to have blood drawn and the dreaded eye doctor for two of my kids, an appointment I’m seriously dreading. Every time we go, we end up waiting an hour just to be seen. Sigh. It’s gonna be a long day.

So what does this have to do with a Digital Audio Recording Device?

An article I read on self-editing suggested, as we all have learned, reading your MS out loud is a good way to hear what you’ve written and helps find mistakes that need to be corrected. I’ve tried that before, but it never fails I rarely get through the whole thing without having to stop for some reason. The article also suggested recording yourself reading out loud. Here lately, I seem to be recording everything I can. I recorded my Writer’s Workshop class I took back in February with author Valarie Clark. And I recorded the GRW meeting with guest speaker Suzanne Brockmann in April. Why not record myself?

I admit, the thought made me nervous. After all, have you ever listened to yourself after leaving a voice mail and thought, ‘Uh, I sound awful?’. God knows I have. But I sucked it up, realized nobody was going to hear it but me and hit the record button…and laughed when I pressed play. I can read aloud just fine, no problems there. But listening to myself say a curse word??? ROTFL! Some people should not curse and I swear I’m one of them! Thank good my MS has very little profanity. Reading the parts that showed the h/h impressions of sexual attraction to one another was even worse. *shakes head* I can only imagine what it will sound like when I get to the chapter with the love scene. *grimaces* My hats off to the voice actors who make a living bringing characters to life in audio books! They deserve every penny!

All jokes and embarrassment aside, I found the technique has actually worked. Even though I haven’t been able to sit down at my laptop and make the actual changes as I listen to my MS, I have been able to make mental note of what needs to be changed. How? By taking my MP3 player (what I used to record) with me everywhere I’ve gone, and listened. I made mental notes of where I stumbled over a phrase because the wording didn’t flow. I was able to notice repeated words a lot faster than if I had been staring at the screen all day. I noticed areas that could use a little more description or a little more emotion because something sounded like it had been left out.

Being forced to LISTEN to what I’ve written instead of READING it for the hundredth time made a huge difference!

Everyone who’s edited knows it can be hard to have spent all that time with the characters in your head, translate your thoughts into words on screen, and then read it back WITHOUT your mind automatically filling in the blank because you know exactly what you intended to say. No matter how many times we read and re-read our work, it’s not until a critique partner reads it and leaves comments that say, “uh, what does this mean?” that you realize all this time it sounded right to you. If you critique partner had to ask, what about future readers????

What a difference a pair of fresh eyes can make! And I don’t mean putting in a fresh pair of contacts, because I did that this week too!

Using your EARS forces you to LISTEN to what’s coming next and not SEE it. You’ll be surprised to note where your brain thinks the scene is going to go vs. where it actually does. It made a huge difference in my editing this week.

So, as I prepare to wake up the kids so they can get ready for their appointments, I plan to make another recording so I can take it with me. During my dreaded hours at the eye doctor I will be listening and making notes so when I get home, I will be able to jump right into editing and get this darn chapter finished! (Oh great, I sound even worse saying darn!)

Editing by way of a digital audio recorder may not be your style, but give it a try at least once. You may be pleased with the results.