Friday, February 18, 2011

Novel Soundtrack

This morning, I tweeted that I had finished watching an anime on Netflix and how it moved me often to tears.  I felt for the characters very much.  However, I posited that perhaps the music played an integral part in my emotion reactions. 

Music has always had a profound affect on me, even as a child.  Once a month, in the small town where I was born and raised, they had community concerts.  Talented people would come in from all over the country, (sometimes even the world), to play or sing various instruments in a multitude of styles.  Mom bought season tickets every year, so once a month we would go watch and listen.  The heartbreaking sounds of stringed instruments especially brought me to tears.  I would grit my teeth and pinch my skin to stave off the sting in my eyes; it embarrassed me to be moved just by music.  No one I knew of cried from listening.

Even now, I feel it deeply.  Music seems to sink into my skin and yank on my heart and the tears spill.  And I'm still somewhat embarrassed by that.  I don't know of anyone else so affected by music; I've never asked.. it seems too personal a question.

What's this post have to do with writing?

Well.  It has everything to do with writing.  I lovely gal I met on Twitter replied to my tweet that she wished for a soundtrack, like a movie score, for her novel.  Wouldn't that be fantastic?  Like those cards that play music when you open them, only for books.  Each section of your book plays a soft, non-intrusive tune.  As the pages are turned the music shifts.  Or maybe there could be an app created for ebooks so that the music is played seamlessly into the ereader.  I think if someone savvy could invent something like that, it would be very cool.

Right now, though, we have no music to help carry the mood of the story or express the feelings of the characters.  All we have are our words.  The characters must sing; we must feel their pain, their happiness, their fears and their triumphs or else it's all just words on the page.

What would your novel's soundtrack sound like?

Monday, February 14, 2011

What about love?

Ah! Today is the day of L'Amour!  Everyone on the planet knows what it is to love, even if the expression of such varies.  Love is such a powerful emotion it's no wonder it finds its way, in one form or another, into most literature.  My own writing is no exception.

While I like to explore at times those darker places in the human experience, love always seems to sneak in.  Love is often the one thing that topples those last vestiges of the Monster that lives within.  Love breaks the bonds, tears down the walls, overcomes bleak night.  Love bridges the gap, cherishes the unlovable, repairs the broken.

Is it any wonder our fascination with that emotional connection between each other?  Even within the blackest heart dwells the speck that yearns to be loved, wishes to love in return; twisted as it becomes, it's there.  These ideas motivate a lot of my writing.  I enjoy exploring the journey between evil and goodness -- the way paved by a profound love.

Even in my erotic writing, though lust plays a major role, the foundation is love springing from a deep passion between the characters.  The one night stand is hot, but a blossoming, tumultuous relationship springing out of that encounter is hotter.  It lingers like the scent of a lover; it sinks into the skin.

How does love play a part in your writing?  What aspects of love do you like to explore?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Untitled vignette

I woke to a distant pounding that hammered a false tempo in my veins, throbbing painfully.  I grabbed my head and groaned deep in my chest.  Brian was there, smoothing my hair and cooing softly that it would be alright.  I lashed out, landing an open hand across his pale cheek.  He pulled back and cradled the red swatch growing across his face.  I glanced from the corner of my eye and felt nothing.  Even if I wanted to feel something, I couldn't.

I stood, taking no notice of my nudity, nor taking any steps to remedy that state.  I strode with surety of step across the expanse of our room to the bathroom.  Brian stirred, finally, from our bed and pulled on a pair of worn out blue jeans followed by a thin red tee shirt.  In the mirror, I noticed the singular beauty of his body as he moved with thoughtless grace around the bed to join me in the bathroom.  He blotted at the blood that dribbled from his nose; attempting to make himself as presentable as possible to my critical eyes.

I admired his sheer force of will to endure what hardships I burdened him.  Of anything that could draw my admiration, that was one.  Strength.  Mental strength.  Physical strength.  The display of such things, even in supplication.  Strength to endure.

I dressed.  I ate.  I glared at Brian and left.  Left him to rot in our home, to do whatever he pleased while I was gone.  Idly, I would plot what things I would do to him if work didn't slake my thirst for the brutal.  Good for Brian that it often did.

I courted the men that called to my office, luring them with my soulless smile, drawing them near with the subtle hint at power and then tore them, chewed them up and spit out the fatty remains.  The corpses that stumbled back out my door were dread to behold.  The pleasure of watching them filled me such that I could near burst with it.  The joy of destruction made my heart soft enough to beat restlessly in my chest.

Gorged on the gore of ambitious men, I would saunter back home and wish for those things that shifted and flowed in my memories, those things I could never have.  Never own.  Those fleeting lost emotions that flitted just out of my reach.  All that I had lost represented by that lingering ghost called Brian, who clung in spite of everything.

I smashed through the front door of my straightened home, Brian's handiwork, to find all laid before me.  Anything that might appeal to me.  Calm me after the fullness of the day had drained away and left me pulsing for more to fill the emptiness.

I ate.  I worked on what stuff that I brought home from the office, filling my eyes and head with numbers and words harsh on the too bright screen.  The work that I detested, yet needed doing.  The work that needed doing and filled me with rage upon completion.  I drank; filling my belly with the burn of alcohol until I felt stronger than Atlas.

Brian, like an apparition, constant in the back ground.  Not hovering, but always there.  If I turned my head just so, his shadow would stretch across the floor and flicker away before I could completed the turn.  He hid until I called for him.  And he would come.  Submissive.  Passive with those pitying eyes and hopeful gaze that would eat away at my flesh.  Not speaking with words.  A look.  A gesture.  A simple turning of his body, he spoke loudly to my soul.  Beckoning me to come and sleep next to him.  His warmth was my warmth.  I hated him if I could hate.  I loved him if I could love.  I savaged him brutally at any opportunity and he offered himself up to my appetites most taboo.

I, deaf to his pleading.  Was he crying out to me or because of me?  Could I rouse myself to care about either one?  I had lost myself many years ago.  And there Brian remained to remind me constantly.  Steadfast by my side, tethered there by some sort of guilt at my corruption.  Vain of him to think he was the cause of it and not some coincidental and innocent bystander in whatever course had placed us upon our path.  In the circle of never ending loathing and self-loathing and addiction to each other.

His need of punishment for self-imposed guilt.  My need to inflict punishment to ease my desire for what had become forever unattainable; my inability to understand what exactly it was I had lost.  The monster I had become, the empty skin of a man; dead and rotten on the inside.

Brian, once beloved.  Cherished beyond anything, dwindled to the shadow of a man.  Still beautiful; ethereal.  Like a horrible angel set to watch and note my further descent into hell.  The fall that had beckoned me, seducing me with the soft glow of a warm fire.  Willingly I had went.  Against Brian's sorrowful protestations.  He followed me.  And I gleefully damned us both.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The end - when to say when

For years now I've held this theory that any good series of novels should never go beyond five books.  As with any rule, there are always exceptions, but from my personal experience, the five book rule is a good guideline.

Think of it this way.  Have you ever fallen in love with a television series?  A classic might be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This popular show ran for seven seasons.  Like many, I watched every week.  For me, though, the show started it's slow decline after season five.  Do you get the connection?  Instead of ending and leaving watchers wanting more, the show fades away.  Now think of shows like Farscape or the original Star Trek.  Those shows had runs of four seasons, left people wanting more and have a significant cult following.

See what I mean?  Think of each novel in your series as a season of your favorite television serial.  Are you going to end on a high leaving your readers wishing for more?  Or are you going to milk your success for all it's worth until the plot and characters are so worn out that your readers don't even bother any more?  Remember, in an era of instant access, many people just don't have patience and become bored very quickly.

In junior high school, I found the Xanth series of books by Piers Anthony.  I thought they were the greatest thing ever.  I bought the next one and the next one and the next until book 12; I got bored and never bought another.  According to Wikipedia, he's working on the 36th.  Frankly, I'm amazed there are still enough readers to warrant continuing!

My mom likes to read murder mysteries.  Those tend to go on well past what is, in my opinion, their freshness date also.  I understand we get attached to characters, as both readers and writers, but there is something to be said about the thrill of finding a new love; saying a sweet goodbye to the old.

As I mentioned above, there will always be exceptions.  Series that are still fresh and exciting well past book (or season) five.  But I maintain that anything much past the five mark is running a risk of losing that spark and losing readers/viewers.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What "prompts" you?

Sometimes I sit down at my keyboard and wonder what the heck I'm going to write about.  This seems to happen to a lot of writers as there are a plethora of writing prompt sites across the internet.  Anything from plot and character prompts to three word prompts to photo prompts.  I've used prompt sites in the past when struggling during NaNoWriMo.  Desperate to use any tool to get that flow of words going again.  One year, I used song lyrics to prompt me on my month long journey.  A lot of times, as I mentioned previously, I use strong emotions to prompt a story.  Getting those feelings down on paper and developing a character out of those feelings along the way.  Very rarely, I'll remember a tidbit of a dream and those brief images prompt a story idea.

Writing prompts often serve to breathe new life into a story or get a new story idea off the ground.  What prompts you to write a story?  What tools do you use to get the story going again when you get stuck?