Thursday, March 11, 2010

Music + Movies = Story

By Nichole Giles

After last week’s post about music, I’ve been thinking. Again. I love melody and harmony, gorgeous instrumental and classical, all of it simply moves me. Speaks to my soul. In a very real way, lyric-free music has a tendency to tell a story, which tends to be completely unique to each individual who hears it. There’s something really special about that, I think.

But even more, songs that do have lyrics also tell a story. I’ve blogged about this before, and I remember mentioning that song lyrics are the ultimate tight writing. And here I am, thinking about it again. Music and movies. Movies are also a good example. Hear me out.

My friend James Dashner (you might have heard of this guy, and if you haven’t, you will very, very soon, and I’m not just talking about in blogs) is a full time author. Part of his work time is spent going to movies as often as possible. He says seeing a movie helps him figure out how to move his plot forward, how to write in twists and turns, and get the story told. Okay, so yeah, it’s almost like reading the cliff notes of a classic novel right before the big test. Or maybe not…

Because screenwriters only have about two hours in which to tell the whole, entire story, so in very many ways, movies are another lesson in tight writing. Not only that, they’re lessons in detail, plot, and character. Even bad movies have value to us as writers. (Yes, I say that, while recognizing that I haven’t been to a movie for weeks, and no, I haven’t seen Avatar yet, but I’m going to. Maybe this weekend.)

Song lyrics can serve a similar purpose. If you really listen, most songs are, in fact, very, very short stories being told to a tune. Consider this song:

Or this one.

No wonder music can be an effective cure for writer’s block. It’s just another form of story, a short movie playing in our heads. Unless it’s a music video, then it’s on a screen.


L.T. Elliot said...

Excellent post, Nichole! This is exactly why I love lyrics so much. It is a story made to music and the words are so concise. Even when they aren't grammatically correct, I love the rhythm and flow and choice.

Keith Fisher said...

awe poor Earl. Like putting a Dumb animal out its misery. :) good post.

Nichole Giles said...

I agree, L.T. music is literary in its own way.

Keith, I know. The funny thing is I never would have thought of that song except it's on my daughter's iPod that's been plugged into my car lately.