Tag Archive: plot twists

The Music That Makes Me Write

I ❤ Music by Dia

As writers we have our lucky pen. And our trusty laptop. And our favorite writing programs. We have our routines, our favorite writing spots, our “bibles”, our quirks and our writing buddies. I am no different. The pen I use changes, depending on what mood I’m in. Some days I can get a ton of writing done at home and some days I can hardly get two words out. I have a three ring binder that I carry with me wherever I go, even if I know I won’t need it, because it has all of my Mind Games stuff in it and I can’t bear to not have it on me (because, the one time I leave is the time I’ll need it). But my most important tool? The one that affects my writing the most? That one never changes.

My music.

Give me my music and I can turn almost anywhere into a writing spot. I can write in the middle of a lunch rush at Chick-Fil-A, with a packed lobby and a gaggle of high-pitched little girls two tables over. Music is one of the most important parts of my writing process. Can I write without it? Yes. Will I like it? Heck no. And it’s not just because I am a music major and have constant need for some form of music to be playing.

Music helps me write a better story.

Now of course, it does often help me to write faster (once I resist the urge to sing). I don’t have a specific writing CD as some do. What I listen to can change from day to day. Right now, country is the music of choice. Tomorrow, it might the Star Wars soundtrack or a Broadway Musical. Or,  it might be a collection of songs that I picked because they sync with my WIP in some way (Yes, I have a Mind Games playlist).

One of the things that music affects the most is the development and the relationships of my characters. For example, if I’m writing from Annette’s point of view, I might listen to Trouble by P!nk or As She Cries by La Rue. For David, I might choose Build Me a Wall from Shrek the Musical or Hero by Bethany Dillon. My friends can testify that I’ve been listening to my iPod in the car or at home and gone, “This is such a/an [character’s name] song.” I eat us any song that fits with a characters journey or relationship with another character. I have (or had, it’s gone apparently) a playlist that was dedicated to the relationship between Annette and David (my two mains in case you hadn’t guessed) which includes Accidentally in Love, both versions of You Found Me, some Disney,  and Haunted and several other songs by Taylor Swift.

In addition to inspiring my work with the characters, music is also extremely helpful in setting the mood when you’re working on a specific section. Creepy beginning? Then I listen to Fog Bound from POTC. Am I trying to get the writing fires revved and type a storm? Then I skip to the section of the list with the Kelly Clarkson songs. This may seem extreme to some, but when I was developing the playlist for Mind Games, I actually sat with my outline and arranged the songs so that they fit the mood of certain chapters. Doesn’t mean that I always stick to that, but it helps when I’m trying to get into the scene.

And who knows, the music you’re listening to might cause you to realize something about a character or discover a plot twist that you didn’t know was there before. Example? Oh boy, do I have one. Picture this: I’ve finished getting the outline for Mind Games down. It’s typed, I’ve divided it into tentative chapters, I’ve started picking songs that match them. And then I go jogging and Speak Now comes on. BAM! I realized that my book was missing a whole four chapters in which the heroine actually agrees to marry the big bad evil dude. What?! Needless to say, David’s not happy. It didn’t affect much of the beginning of the story, but it did completely change the ending of the book. Okay, not really, but it threw quite a loop in the road that got me there.

So what’s your relationship with music and writing? Can you live without it? Is it a necessary part? Or do you just use it when the mood hits you?

Disclaimer: I will do my best not to get completely carried away and spoil anything for you, but in proving my point I do need to reveal some things. I will refrain from using any names from last nights events, but if you’re afraid of spoilers DO NOT READ THIS. And that is all.

So, for those of you who aren’t as hip as I am (yes, that’s your cue to laugh), last night was the season finale of Fringe.

I have this tendency to find a TV show and get a little obsessive about it. The number of TV shows that I watch with almost religious devotion to continues to grow. It started with Bones, and then, Fringe, Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, Chuck, and Smallville followed. My favorite part about television is that it keeps going and going and the good ones keep you begging for more. Why? Because they are always delivering something new. Now I could go on and on about how good TV shows are at teaching you about character reveals, significant details and plot development, but that’s not why I am here (not this time at least).

I’m here because even while still trying to process the ending of last night’s Ffinale I was struck by this thought: J.J. Abrams is a master of plot twists. I mean, what better way to having your audience gasping for the next season than to erase the existence of a character that everyone has grown to know and love over the last three seasons? (That is as far as I will go into detail for last night. Please if you know who I’m talking about, don’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to watch the finale.) The plot twists that they have dreamed up for this show over the last two seasons constantly leave me feeling blown away.

And that’s how I want my readers to feel when they read my book. I want them to sit back at the end (or when real life calls and they have to put the book down) and go: “Whoa.” And sometimes, I don’t want them to see it coming. Sometimes it’s fun to have the audience know things before the main character, but other times you want to completely catch them off guard.

For those who watch the show, think about how they ended season two (this is all easily accessible info, so even if you haven’t watched the show, you probably know some of it). Olivia has gone over to other side and convinced Peter to come back with her. To be with her. Oh yeah, I was doing a happy dance in my living room. I mean, finally! After two seasons of agony, they were going places I liked. And then, five minutes from the end–They switched the Olivias (parallel universe, for those who don’t watch). But here’s the kicker, the audience didn’t know (or couldn’t be sure) until the last thirty seconds of the episode when you see our Olivia sitting, huddled in a confinement cell.

It was the the king of plot twists…Until this season’s finale. I’m still not sure how I kept from throwing anything at my TV last night.

Maybe because I’ve been too busy realizing how much Fringe has influenced my own writing, especially when it comes to plot twists. Looking that ending of my current book (which is part of a series), if I play my cards right, it will have people screaming for the next book. I can definitely see the impact that shows like Fringe and Alias have had on my writing.

Hands down, Fringe is some of the best television writing I have ever seen. The way they are still tying things in season three to events in season one is amazing–Abrams and crew don’t waste a single detail. Which is why I think  that if you write, you need to watch this show. Watch and see how they handle the plot (and its twists), character development, character backstory, the little details that are actually much more important than they seem at first, and how they lead their audience on this incredible journey through the course of each season. I find it brilliant.

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