Taking a break from writing fiction next week for something . . . different. I’m attending a songwriters’ workshop.
Song writing and fiction writing have a number of similarities. For example, they both employ words. And, um, let’s see what else.
Well, if you’re writing a ballad, you have to create strong, memorable characters. You don’t have a lot of words to accomplish that. More like flash fiction in that regard. Quick sketch, salient points, use strong images, leave a lot to the imagination.
Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland
Jackie gonna be a football star
Diane debutante backseat of Jackie’s car
Diane’s sittin’ on Jackie’s lap
He’s got his hand between her knees
Jackie say, hey, Diane
Let’s run off behind a shady trees
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please.
68 little words, and look how much you know about the 2 title characters. Would that I could do that quite so effectively in fiction (I totally suck at flash fiction).
Song lyrics normally rhyme. Contemporary poetry doesn’t even rhyme–that’s been abandoned long ago. But somehow it’s still the standard for most popular music. Confess that I don’t feel BOUND by that convention, but I follow it when possible. Unless I want to use worlds like silver or orange. Then I cheat. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of rhyming dictionary resources, printed and online. I have two here beside my PC in case the “other muse” strikes me.
But I’m not really doing this to improve my fiction. I’m doing it because music is my other love. I direct a rock-folk group at a UU church and enjoy writing and arranging music for them. And they’re very tolerant of my efforts. So far.
This workshop is being held at a retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina, not too far from Asheville. There will be time for long walks in the woods beside a mountain stream. That’s when my regular cast of imaginary friends will come out to play. So it won’t be a TOTAL vacation. I’ll still be plotting and scheming on my work-in-progress.