I wrote this piece for my blog. Thought I'd share it here, as well.
Ever have a song get stuck in your head? A line or two of the lyrics playing on a loop through your mind until it becomes a silent mantra? Annoying as that can be, sometimes it also provides inspiration.
My music addiction rivals my book addiction. If I’m not writing or reading, I’m listening to music. Some music lovers barely acknowledge lyrics. For me, the lyrics make the song.
When I write, I step inside my characters’ personalities. I need to feel what they feel, so that I can present them to my readers as a three-dimensional person, not just a character on a page. While writing my novel Enemies and Playmates, I had a relatively minor character whose impact on the story turned out to be much larger than his small part. His name is Stephen and he is the younger brother of Lauren, the main character.
Stephen’s character ran continually through my mind, along with the lyrics from two songs. The lyrics drove his character, as much as his character sparked the endless loop of the lyrics in my mind. The first was a line from The Struggle Within
, a Metallica song from their Black album: Home is not a home it becomes a hell… Turning it into your prison cell.
The other was a song called Fade
from the Break The Cycle album by Staind. That entire song, in my mind, became Stephen’s song. I could hear him singing it, see him living it. One line from that song – But I never meant to fade away...
– became Stephen’s plaintive cry.
I don’t know whether the songs sparked the character or Stephen’s character made me pay closer attention to the lyrics in those songs. I’m also not sure that it matters. Lyrics are pieces of a story. When I listen to a well written song, I can see that story play out in front of me. Sometimes it becomes more than a 3 to 5 minute vignette.
I am sure that what I visualize is most often not the same vision that inspired the song’s writer. However, that’s often the beauty of words. They can be many different things to many different people. It’s all in how we listen. Or how we read.