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Manuscript Music

This week the lovely Leatrice McKinney at Info Dump a la El is hosting Pitch Slam: Battle of the Bands!  In addition to pitching novels, each day this week we’re rocking Pitch Slam Twitter Parties. Today we’re sharing our writing playlists. 

My YA novel PERCEPTION is about a boy with a rare liver disorder who spends one wild night trying to forget his disease and exposes disturbing new neurological symptoms instead. Grounded, wanted by experimenting doctors and government informants, and falling for the girl who snitched on him, he faces treatment as a lab rat or freedom while sacrificing recovery. 

Here are some of the songs on my Perception Playlist!  

Music Lessons

Last night I saw the fabulous Metric in a surprise, last-minute show in Jacksonville. Front row, on the barricade. Pure awesome. Emily gets most of the press for Metric, but let me just say that guitarist Jimmy Shaw is also phenomenal. To celebrate a fantastic night, I’m starting my Music Lessons blog series.

A novel tells a story using somewhere around 80,000 words. The average song uses around 200 words. I think writers of long fiction can learn about imagery, emotional impact, and economy of words by diving into the music that moves them.

Here are some of my favorite Metric lyrics:

From Black Sheep:
Hello again, friend of a friend, I knew you when
Our common goal was waiting for the world to end
Now that the truth is just a rule for you to bend
You crack the whip, shape shift and trick, the past again

We get such a great picture of these two characters, without knowing their names or what they’re wearing or what they had for lunch yesterday. We know that they are having this reunion, because she SHOWS us, and they have a past that you want to know more about. And then we have the metaphors. I can totally relate to seeing someone after a long time and having the encounter transform your memories. We also see how this other person has the upper hand in the relationship, all in less than 50 words.

From Gimme Sympathy:
We’re so close to something better left unknown
I can feel it in my bones
Gimme sympathy

After all of this is gone
Who’d you rather be?
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

Oh, seriously
You’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young
Come on baby, play me something
Like “Here Comes the Sun”

This song gives a great illustration of voice and word choice. “Something better left unknown” is such a moving combination, with this sense of trepidation as the one character begs the other to “feel” with her, and ultimately to help her move forward. The conversation rings true, and it brings the listener into the connection by having her draw personal connections. Sometimes we have to take risks like this. Maybe the reader won’t have the reaction you intend for a reference, but by letting her make it, you deepen the connection to the story.

I’ll wrap up for today so I can get to work on my WIP with all this musical inspiration. But stay tuned for future posts in the series, highlighting Death Cab for Cutie and The White Stripes.

Here is a video from the concert, featuring Help I’m Alive. (The audio is really loud, so if you want to give it a listen, be sure to turn it down a little.)

I had planned to spend today’s blog raving about Mutemath, which I will do in a moment. But because I read and write in the YA world, I have to mention the whole mess with the National Book Awards. (Long story short: Lauren Myracle’s Shine was announced as being nominated and then removed from the list.) Libba Bray’s blog said almost everything there is to say, and the only thing I have to add is the sentiment flooding twitter yesterday: the positive to come from all this is that more people will read Shine.

And now, for my concert review! Last night I saw Mutemath here in Jacksonville. They were amazing. They could have sold out a much larger venue, but they chose to introduce the new album Odd Soul in small clubs. And let me say, the fans really lucked out with that decision. They rocked to a crowd of under 200 the same way they would have in an arena. The soulful base riffs and percussion with New Orleans flair sound even better live, and Paul Meany has the voice of an angel, if an angel sang for an alt-rock band from Louisiana. The high points for me were Spotlight and Typical, but the new stuff also sounded great.

See you tomorrow for RTW!

Here’s a little taste from last night: