I love music! From classical to pop, country to alternative; I love all kinds of music! It’s always been a part of my life. Starting from a very young age I had the opportunity to learn to play the piano. Later in school I learned to play the clarinet. Growing up my house was always filled with music, whether it was one of us practicing an instrument, or something playing on the stereo. With three older siblings who were also musically inclined, I sat through many youth symphonies. I remember once when I was really young and sitting still was hard to do, my great-aunt told me a little secret about listening to the music. She was a music professor and my teacher. She told me that when I was having a hard time listening, to close my eyes and “see” the music; picture the story in my head that the music was telling me.
I have tried to instill this love for music in my own children. So much so that each of them has learned to play some kind of instrument. For my oldest daughter it’s a challenge; she wants to play them all. But for now, she is concentrating on the violin. Recently I had the opportunity to attend her high school orchestra concert. Even as an adult I like to close my eyes and “see” the music. This time when I closed my eyes I could “see” elements of writing. The different parts came together to create something amazing!
Melody: This is the plot of the story. Without a plot there is no story, just words. Just like a melody, the plot is what sticks in your head long after you have finished reading the book.
Harmony: These are sub-plots intertwining with the melody to make it more interesting. The harmony can spice up an ordinary story into something really great.
Tempo: This is your story’s pacing. Is it fast and exciting or slow and gentle? Does it have a change in tempo or is it one solid race from beginning to end?
Venue: This is the setting. Sometimes the place where a piece of music is played makes all the difference. Classical in the elevator is just boring, but take it to the mountains with wildflowers and waterfalls and it becomes magical. The same is true of a story. The setting is crucial. It takes the reader to some place else where anything is possible.
Instruments: These are your characters. Each is unique and adds something to the overall effect. You might be writing about a soft and quiet person like a flute or a piccolo. It might be someone who is loud and can’t be missed like a brass instrument. What about smooth and romantic like a violin or viola. Mysterious like an oboe or bassoon. You need a suave and classy guy to make your readers happy? He’s a saxophone. A big bad villain? It’s got to be percussion.
Dynamics: This is the tone. Every piece of music makes you feel something whether it’s sad or happy, edgy or soulful. The tone of a story is the same thing. Is it forte–gives a real punch to your reader–or is it played with a little more finesse in piano.
Notes: These are the words. They fly across the paper, just squiggles, lines, and dots that mean nothing until they are played–or read.
Put all of these elements together and you have a symphony of words.