So without further ado, on to our first guest post! (Thanks, Sophia!)
How I Learned to Use My Powers for Good, Not Emo
By Sophia Chang
|My trusty Casio with the broken C below middle.|
Krispy and Alz asked me to guest blog about writing music for my novels. I'll take it, as they say, from the top.
Like thousands of other Chinese kids in America, I had to play the piano and violin as soon as I could tell my fingers apart.
I taught myself to play the guitar when I was 12 and started writing folksy songs that could give emo kids of today a run for their angst-soaked money. (Songs called, "When You Hate The One You Love." Hey, at least the title tells you what the song's about up front.)
Luckily, I grew out of the Courtney Love phase (even Courtney Love grew out of that - for a while at least) and now I use my music-writing for good, not emo.
I've continued to write songs, and to listen to music while I write novels. In my latest YA Fantasy WIP, I finally brought the two loves together.
My heroine sings a verse from a farm song she's known since childhood. The problem is, the world she lives in exists in my head. I reaaaalllly needed to hear that song in order to connect with her fully.
So I stood up from my computer chair, turned, took two steps, and sat on my piano chair. Cued up the keyboard to "old-fashioned" (actually "clavi") and wrote the song.
Now when I play it, I can instantly hook myself into the mood of that scene. I can picture her in it, feel her longing in my chest when I sing the melody.
You don't have to be a former angsty-girl-with-guitar to do the same. Just hum. Or get up and dance a few steps the way your character would. Maybe draw the way they would, order food and eat it like them. Dress like them. Look at websites they would visit. Covet the kind of boys or girls they would.
For this same heroine, when I wrote one of her character sheets (yes, I did more than one and almost died), I did it in her handwriting. I frickin' hate her handwriting (it's better than mine), but I sure learned a lot writing a page in her hand.
Any sort of embodiment you do for your character has the power to tug you out of your own vessel and into theirs so strongly and immediately it will steal your breath. And that's what you want to do for your reader.
So what angsty music does your character like?
ABOUT: Sophia Chang is a lifelong dancer and singer who has appeared in films including Across the Universe and First Daughter. She performs with the Harvard Yardbirds, an alumni a capella group and has recorded for Hepnova, a mixed media band. She now writes Young Adult fiction.