Literary lessons that I use to write music

1) Get them with the first sentence. Hook `em as soon as you can. Hey, Haendel did it.

2) Standard Advice for Novelists: Start as close to the end as you can manage, go to the end, and then stop. Anything else is self-indulgent. Both this lesson and the previous one I think boil down to the same thing: don’t waste people’s time. You can wander around a bit, but you’re already asking more of them than you have a right to expect; apologize for sucking a few minutes out of their lives that they’ll never get back by exercising at least a little conciseness. Concision. Whatever the noun for that concept is.

3) Standard Advice for Screenwriters: If you show the sword on the wall in Act 1, you’d better have used it by Act 3. This was the motivation behind pulling that F# fanfare thing I used at the start of the BM piece into the main body of the piece. Otherwise, it would have been just a matter of mindlessly sticking something fanfare-y at the start of the piece because … well … that’s sort of what you do. And it’s cool. Not a good enough justification.

4) Standard Advice for Mystery Writers: Listening is linear, but writing doesn’t have to be. This is related to that Agatha Christie thing I brought up before, about how she used to just go along and write her novels, decide who the least likely culprit was, and then go back and edit in order to “frame” that person. You read a book in linear order (most often), but you don’t have to write it that way. A terribly clever foreshadowing in a novel could have been constructed in reverse order for all the reader knows, and probably was.

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