Monday, February 8, 2010

Write by Lyrics

You’ve heard of paint by numbers? Today I’m throwing a little write by lyrics at you. If you’ve hung around here awhile you’ve discovered I have an endless tunnel of thoughts in this here noggin of mine. You humor me by reading some of them. And I thank you for it. Makes the tunnel a little less dark.

And now for the lyrics bit. I’m a music lover. I have hundreds of songs memorized. It’s hysterical to watch my children demonstrate my musical memorization habits.

Whoa oh oh, what’s music got to do with it…writing that is? Just another fun way to relay ideas. I’m certainly not an expert, but here is a list of some things I’ve learned about writing a novel:

  1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want—One of the number one must-haves in a book is conflict. You need a character that wants something but for one reason or another is unable to have that thing.
  2. Wake Up Little Suzie—Your story needs to move. You want your readers to stay awake while reading your book, not drift off in a dreamy drool-drenched sleep. Wake up Suzie by adding those can’t always get what you want scenes regularly.
  3. I Want to Hold Your Hand—Get your readers to like or empathize with your main characters early on in the story (preferably page one).
  4. Save the Last Dance for Me (one of my favorite songs btw)—Work hard to involve your reader. Help your readers feel engaged with your story by inciting a connection with your characters.
  5. Poker Face—Implement suspense throughout your work. Drop a well-timed clue here. Leave a hint of something there. But don’t fall into the trap of tell. Give ‘em glimpses.
  6. A Little Less Conversation and A Little More Action Please—On the heels of the last one, avoid exposition. Show. Action is good. Dialogue is good, but only if it moves the plot forward.
  7. I Walk the Line—Follow a plot. Don’t wander aimlessly from scene to scene. Adhere to the story goal. Don’t sidetrack and rabbit hole your readers into confusion and frustration.
  8. Ain’t No Sunshine—Don’t write an elaborate description of weather just for the heck of it. Plant it there for a purpose, if you must plant it there at all.
  9. Into the Mystic—Take your readers somewhere they want to go. Make it easy for them to have a mental adventure. Choose an intriguing setting, riveting characters, a yeasty plot…
  10. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction—Keep ‘em scooting in their seats. Make ‘em want more. Don’t give ‘em satisfaction…that is until the end. Satisfy ‘em then.

Any lyrics you've learned that apply to writing?

*photos by flickr


  1. Too funny! I'll confess that none of these thoughts have even entered my mind! I have no clue what song makes me think...oh wait. I know one that always made me think of writing. *grin*
    Alycia Keys' "I keep falling in and out of love with you"

  2. You are so clever! I love this list. Well, that was a lie. I love all but #10, not being a fan of the Rolling Stones. However, the point is profound.

    You amaze me, Wendy. I wish you were my next door neighbor!

  3. Oooh, those are GREAT!!
    I'd add Celine Dion's "Taking Chances".
    What do ya say to taking chances? What do ya say about jumping off the edge?

  4. Great stuff! See, I can use this for Writer...Interrupted! Start searching your archives for more goodies!!!

  5. Great post, Wendy! The other day I couldn't get "She Works Hard for the Money" out of my head. I guess you could say that the harder your character struggles on the way to her goal, the more your reader will want her to make it.

  6. Love this post, and I love music too. They way lyrics are written, is a lot like telling a story.

    Songs just resignate with me, they stir me a lot like reading and writing.

  7. I love this! And I knew almost every song lol. This is a great example and perhaps the 'funnest' to get our stories in line. I think I need to print this out! Thanx Wendy!!

  8. those are awesome, Wendy! And so true. I'm working on making sure every scened is moving my novel forward right now. Very hard.

  9. Oooh, this is THE GREATEST POST!


    Harry Chapin's Greyhound:
    It's got to be the going, not the getting there, that's good.

    Harry gave me rules to live by, not just write by. Even the most mundane chores become hallowed when "getting there" means doing your best for God.

    Love ya, girl!!1

  10. "Wise men say
    Only fools rush in
    But I can't help
    Trying to write again."


  11. Everywhere I visited, so far, today, you were there in the comments, so I just had to come by and say "hi!" *smiling*

  12. Oh, this is brilliant. For me it's "The Reason Is You." Not sure that's a song, but it's a line from a song. Needed in romance, no? Yes.

  13. So, a little bummed here. Today's post didn't show up on the radar, but apparently some of you found your way here anyway. Very cool. You made it lighter in here. You even made my appearance the new look?

    I do. I feel at home in it.

    Jessica, You made me proud. Must say, that editing sure helps that out of love feeling grow.

    Jeanette, I would love to have you as a neighbor and I've got to tell you...your comment sparked a deep conversation with a friend today. Your words made me think. I'm not a huge fan of the band...I just used their lyric for my point. ;) Great, now I'm using people.

    Jennifer, Oh, I'm a big time jump off the edge kind of girl.

    Rosslyn, Love that example. So hard for it honey. There is another fabulous lyric filed away in the gray membranes.

    Tamika, In that conversation with my friend, we were discussing how very much the two of us have memorized w/out even realizing it.

    T.Anne, Glad it resonates with you. :D

    Heather, I have to tighten the leash on my scenes. They dart after squirrels if I let them.

    Patti, Might I add what a huge encouragement you've been!!! And I'm so all over the it's the journey that counts mentality.

    Warren, Great song. Fun how you put your own spin on that one.

    Kathryn, *smiling* right back at you. I dropped by your blog. Very cool of you to comment.

    Elana, I like that song...reminds me of God actually.

    Well, folks. I like how I made that a sentence all on its own. Well, folks. Really, enough said. ;)

    I missed some other drop by comments today, but value those who swung on by.

    By Wendy

    One of those moods.

    Need exercise.

    Sleep with better dreams than I had last night.
    ~ Wendy

  14. Gina, I just got the sinking feeling I missed you when I was washing the dishes...I did. I will start looking and thank you!

    Good to see your lovely face here.

  15. Left you something happy at my blog :)

  16. These are great. Very clever :) Hmm, lately the only song I can attach to my writing is "Warehouse". Now, if I could just find that darn key...


  17. I just love the way you gave advice through songs! Haha. That was cool. I had the words of each playing as I read. It was like watching a how-to video with a soundtrack! This is all great advice, and I'll be sure to refer back to this post when I get out of the outlining phase and into the writing phase of my book. :)

  18. I had fun reading this post. You are so creative, just proves you are a writer. :)


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