Monthly Archives: December 2014

More on Music and Writing

As I study music, its subtlety and nuances continue to surprise me. This year, I have listen to Christmas music. That’s because I’ve been playing it and hear it on a different level than I have before.
One of the subtleties that corresponds to writing is this: Music usually begins and ends with the same note. In writing, whatever is introduced in the beginning must be tied up on the final pages. For example, in one of my stories, the heroine’s mother is insane and has very pale white eyes. That’s an oddity, but in the last few pages of the story, the heroine’s eyes turn white, and if she doesn’t complete a task, she will go crazy. There you go. The beginning is tied to the end in an unexpected way. It does tie everything up and explains the unexplained found in the beginning.
On an even more fundamental level, the pathway to playing better music is playing scales, going to the basics. The path to better writing is knowing the basics and being able to go there.
In ancient music, there were frills and extravagances that are no longer there in modern music. The same is true of writing. The ornate, flowery speech of the Victorian era has been replaced by more vernacular speech. Even colloquial speech, like Twain used in his Tom Sawyer stories, has been replaced with more minimalist writing. One or two words from the vernacular are used as signposts to indicate the speaker’s culture and level of education. The full use of vernacular is no longer expected or required. One must remain consistent, however.
I recently read a work where the writer switched between one or two words in the vernacular and more formal writing for the same character. The effect was suspension of disbelief evaporated as I began to pay attention to his difficulty in keeping the character on one level of speech or another.