Okay so I want to write a long running space opera with a huge cast of characters, my five "main" characters are actually some high schools who formed a light music/rock band. They are also unlikely in my current stage of brainstorming ever going to be anywhere "near" the action and are more meant as a breather between the combat and thriller aspects of the story and give exposition and contrast.
Basically a slice of life romantic comedy genre shift away from the epic space war.
Now however I'm left with a dilemma that I think some of the cynical of you are probably already guessing at.
I am not a song writer and have never written a song before.
So I am left with a choice, do I write around this "Light Novel" style (like in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) where you describe a concert scene and peoples reaction and elaborate on the mood step by step but run the risk of making them Mary Sueish by never showing them actually singing (because while amateur they have talent) and yet having everyone they meet congratulate them on how good they are for their age.
Or do I put in some effort and actually write some songs but run the risk of breaking peoples suspension of disbelief by the songs not being all that special or even good?
There's always the third option of doing a mix of both and then finding someone who can songwrite and have them do it if I get serious about this but that presents other problems.
www.Berkleemusic.com has a method on lyric form and structure written by pat pattison. He also has a book through writer's market's website. If anything you could probably go to amazon.com and get it really cheap used.
Posts: 174 | Registered: Aug 2010
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Actually, I think maybe one or two songs would do it but you could say what a song is about without quoting it. As in He song about his girlfriend breaking up with him, or he sang a loud, happy song about his first album contract.
Along those lines quote just a line or two of a couple of songs. Too many songs would get boring and break up the action too much, I would think.
I don't think I have read many stories-novels that quote a lot of songs. I know one UF novel, with a musical MC, but I don't think one song was ever quoted. Of course in that case they would be other people's real songs so there would be copyright problems. Speaking of that I have a musical MC in one of my WIPs and the same thing no quotes for that reason. She only plays part time though and doesn't write songs.
It's been quite some time since I've read them, but you might want to read one or two of the "Spellsinger" books by Alan Dean Foster. I seem to remember he did a great job of bringing the music out that Jon-Tom did in those stories.
Posts: 1320 | Registered: May 2008
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Here are some ideas thrown against the wall to see what sticks. WE can come up with other suggestions if anything is close.
Most songs are rhyming poetry. If you need the words, write a poem. Let someone else come up with the tune. Describe the effects on the audience and the band. The band played the love song he wrote for his girl. The young ladies in the audience swooned and cried as if he sung to each one of them.
As for how the band can be used, one idea is that you have the band going on stage and doing a concert with their newest song. Then have the actual characters quote parts of the song as they are going through their actions. You might have it be sort of a group anthem, possibly adjusting the words slightly to fit their situation
My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord he has trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath were stored he has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword his truth is marching on
changing it to something we sun as kids
My eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school we have skipped all the classes and have broken all the rules we have hid behind the door with a loaded forty fours there ain't no teachers any more.
You show the poetry of the song as the band sings it. Then you show the people modifying the song for their use then you show it used as an anthem.
Or you might have your hero think of the song in a lull of a fight or you use the song, love song for example, where the hero thinks of the song in the heat of the battle, thinks of his girl and then fights even harder so he can eventually get back to her.
Most song lyrics are doggerel, rather than poetry...
If you need a song, you might try taking somebody's tune and writing your own words to it---avoiding any word choice similar to what's right there, so you're not writing a parody...as "rstegman's" schoolboy version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is.
My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord He is driving down the alley in a pink-and-yellow Ford. One hand is on the throttle and the other on a bottle Of Pabst Blue-Ribbon Beer."
Personally when I read a book where the author wrote lyrics to a song, it always bugs me, and I skip it. Especially pop music, bleh.
I think songs that are over a hundred years old are awesome to read, they are poetry. Modern songs skip the poetry part. It is really difficult to write a modern song, and still be a poet, most current song writers can't do it.
I suggest skipping the song, and maybe just show the words on a good chorus. If you want to go with the song, then i suggest writing out some songs in the genre of music you will be writing, and analyze the poetry structure(or lack there of) and focus on the rhythm of the words.
For example; I had the time of my life, and I never felt this way before, and I swear, this is true, and I owe it all to you.
Notice all the breaks. All the broken grammatical rules. The focus on the rhythm, and on the pauses.
Also remember to rhyme with the word YOU as much as possible. ~Sheena
I think when it comes to song writing it might be a good idea to get into the minds of the characters writing the song. These kids are in High School, right? So the song would be using slang and popular phrases for that age group. Also would teenagers be using that many big words? Maybe if the band was made up of honor students.
I'm still not sure I udnerstand the question.
You are writing a book. A book is restricted to the written word, so music has to be described verbally. Yes, you could put lyrics in - but it's a rare lyric that comes over well on the page, where you don't get the mood set by vocalisation or instrumentation.
Part of it is that if the 'quality' of the music is in anyway plot important, the audience will at least want to know a little more about the music. If for example everyone who 'heard' the music in story think its like the second comming of the Beatles but you never show them actually singing or show lyrics then you end up with the situation where the singing is an "Informed Ability".
Which creeps the characters uncomfortably close to Mary Sue territory.
In my opinion, regardless of how good a song might be, most lyrics come across as rather silly when in print without the accompanying music.
I would suggest a compromise - include some lyrics, perhaps just the chorus, tempered by the audience's reaction. For instance, a high energy scene which shows the band is performing, the audience is keyed up singing along to the chorus and to avoid a 'Mary Sue' moment have a band member notice some people walking out of the concert. Or a scene where the band reacts to a music critic's scathing review and it hurts their egos.
In the 90s just about everyone called Oasis the second coming of the Beatles but I know plenty of people who didn't like them. No band is perfect, not even in fiction
[This message has been edited by redux (edited May 05, 2011).]
I was just thinking about Anne Rice's "Queen of the Damned" where the vampire Lestat is a rock star. I don't remember if she had full lyrics in the novel or not and I can't find my copy in order to check. I know she included her husband's poetry at the beginning of some chapters. It's been a while since I last read it but just thought I'd bring it up since it might prove helpful to see how she handled music and lyrics in the story.
[This message has been edited by redux (edited May 06, 2011).]
I regret that the recent movie version of The Lord of the Rings stripped nearly all of the book's poetry and song from the story and dialog...but I regret even more that, in a couple of places, they substituted some of their own.
Also, when I was a kid, I used to hear music when I read poetry...but by my twenties my mind couldn't be fooled by the meter and rhythm, and it was an effort to hear a song, any song, with a good poem. (Arthur C. Clarke spoke of this phenomenon briefly in his book Prelude to Space.)
quote:Or do I put in some effort and actually write some songs but run the risk of breaking peoples suspension of disbelief by the songs not being all that special or even good?
Don't you really mean that you'd be writing some song lyrics? That's far different from writing songs in my opinion.
I've contemplated this issue at some length. For me the idea that the lyrics of a song capture its essence doesn't work. I wouldn't dare put lyrics in a story I wrote. Maybe others can pull it off, but I can't.
The lyrics communicate a part, and the music communicates a part, and the combination of the two convey a feeling when done correctly. I don't believe this effect can be duplicated in prose, or in poetry.
Music is a different medium. If the characters were illustrators would it make sense to interrupt the narrative and insert drawings into the story? I don't know many writers would would think this a wise decision.
I don't know what a "Mary Sue" is, but I do know that I skip over the "songs" in stories because they are usually no more than poetry, and usually bad poetry in my opinion, even in the hands of masters. Songs are not simply poetry set to music; they are far more than that, and the words of a song fail to convey the emotional impact. If words alone were sufficient then one would be better off simply reading a poem without the distracting background noise.
Personally, I would find a story more believable if it conveyed the effect of music on the musicians, or on the audience, or both, and left the actual crafting of the music (and lyrics) to my imagination. The same goes for any art; auditory, visual, etc. I wouldn't throw a story down if a writer attempted this, but I would feel somewhat cheated.
[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited May 07, 2011).]
"Mary Sue" is an allusion to a particular type of wish-fulfillment fiction, in which the main character is a thinly disguised version of the author, placed in a situation in which the main character is loved by every other character and can do no wrong (more or less).
It comes, I believe, from certain STAR TREK fan fiction about a Lieutenant Mary Sue Something-or-other who was assigned to the ENTERPRISE and had every male crew member fighting over her while she saved the universe.
I assume the allusion of the title is to Rush. Many have tried to imitated Neil's earlier lyrical stylings and have failed in their tribute.
When you design an alien culture or environment, you can also design a lyrical style to give depth to the construction world or differentiate between age groups. You do not have to be a musician to be a lyricist and for a written story there is no accompanied music (unless your as ambitious as Ursula K Leguin) with the text.
The question I would put forth is: Which comes first - the song or the story? Do you write snippet of songs and then write scenes around them; or do you write the songs afterwards to enhance the understanding of the atmosphere of the story?
[This message has been edited by telflonmail (edited May 09, 2011).]