Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guest YA Reader: Pick a Theme Song

***Kimber An here.  I call my YA daughter my secret weapon.  I can always count on her to tell me when something I write is crap.  So, I thought I'd share her unique perspective as a Professional Teenager.  She's going to throw things at me when she realizes I slipped her baby picture into this post!  Ha!  Can't help it.  Hard to believe this little baby is taller than me now.  That's what I get for mating with a skyscraper!

Take it away, Kimber Jr!***
Hi everyone! You might know me: I’m Kimber Junior from Enduring Romance. I’ll be guest posting here from time to time. Today I’ll tell you to pick “theme songs” for your book, character, romance, or situation. (Kimber An here: Jr always does most of this for me and it really helps too.)  Please note however, I am going to do a two-part thing because this is quite long, so you’ll just have to wait a little longer for Part 2. (hmmm…..where’ve we heard that before?)
You’re probably thinking: “What?! How’s that going to help me write better?” Well, let’s put it this way: it helps you really think about what makes up a good book. It also helps figure out your “tone”, or general feel, of your story. And plus it’s just plain fun to do.
Now there are three main types of songs: “sad” songs, “medium” songs, and “active” songs. “Sad songs” are songs such as “Sound the Bugle” by Bryan Adams, or “No Way Out” by Phil Collins, which are pretty sad and, in a movie, are generally played at the point when all hope seems lost.  (Kimber An here: Jr chose these two songs for me when I was writing Sweet Bytes.)  “Medium” songs are not sad but not particularly active, either. They are beautiful, and often very heartfelt, and they take their time about it. Some examples that come to mind include: “Look Through My Eyes” by Phil Collins, “Wunderkind” by Alanis Morissette, and “There’s A Place for Us” by Carrie Underwood. “Active” songs are the kind that make you want to get up and dance, or otherwise get you really wound up.  Some examples of this category are: “You Can’t Take Me” and “Get Off My Back”, both by Bryan Adams  (Kimber An here: Jr chose these two songs for Ophelia in Sweet Bytes to inspire her maturing into a Kick-Butt Heroine)  “On My Way” by Phil Collins, and “I Learned From You” by Miley Cyrus. A fourth category is movie soundtracks. These songs generally don’t have words (except for theme songs, usually) and are played during a movie. You usually don’t notice them at first but after you listen to them separately a few dozen times you can pick them out. These are very beautiful too but as they generally don’t have lyrics they aren’t the best choices for theme songs.
OK. So now we’ve got the three main types of songs. This is critical because the point of a theme song is to bring out the best of the book, character, romance, or situation. For example, you wouldn’t set a romance-y type song for a single character. And you wouldn’t set an “active” song for an “All Is Lost” moment. You’ve got to make sure the song-and especially the lyrics-fit the description.
The first type of theme song is for the whole book. First off, look at the overall tone of the book. Is it really sort of, well, I wouldn’t say depressing but not overly cheery either? Are there lots of deaths or other gloomy happenings? Well, then, a “sad” type song would fit best. Is it still not overly cheery but with fewer gloomy happenings and more laughs and more, well, morals and things that make you think? A “medium” song would probably cover it pretty well. Is it pretty cheery, lots of laughs, not too many gloomy happenings (though a word of caution: don’t put too few gloomies in there. If you do, it just won’t seem serious enough.) and has a happy ending? Well, then, I think an “active” song would fit just fine! Another note is that most “sad” songs have a happy ending. Though, there are exceptions: “No Way Out” by Phil Collins (the movie version: the theme song version does have a happy ending) doesn’t, and neither does “Where” by Lisbet Scott. Also, a general rule of picking theme songs is: LISTEN TO THE LYRICS! If you pick a song whose lyrics are the complete opposite of what you’re trying to say, even if the type is right, it just won’t make sense.
Well, that’s it for today! Next up we’ve got picking theme songs for characters, romances, and situations. Should be fun! Until next time, happy hippogriffs to you!
***Kimber An here: As a writer, I use the music to instantly transfer my imagination into the story's 'universe.'  With four children, I don't have time for a muse!***


J.A. Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing! One of my characters has a theme song. Every time I hear it, I want to write.

Kimber An said...

Kimber Jr always listens to music while she reads, so I think there's something to it going both ways, for readers and writers.

Cassandra said...

Songs do influence writing and this really can help a lot of writers out there.

Kimber An said...

I've talked to writers who need silence. Omigoodness, the very idea of silence is unbearable to me! So, I guess it depends on the storyteller, but I'm one who definitely needs music. It's also fun to sing along and really annoy my teenager! Mean mommy! It's kinda funny how we like most of the same music though.