How writing novels has improved my song writing

The songwriting muse has been hitting me over the head. I've been writing a song a week and these are the best songs I've written in my life. The music and melodies are better. The lyrics are my finest. 

For those who don't know, I used to be a singer/songwriter/musician in my late-teen through to my mid-twenties. I gave it up to write novels. 




So why are my songs better now? It's because novel writing has taught me to dig deep, to build a character, to connect with an audience, to find the truth and uncover it, and not be afraid to uncover it. 


Authors develop characters in their novels. One way to do this is called 'the ghost of the lie', where the author might do a character interview to find out what is motivating them to act a certain way. For example, a single man never goes beyond the third date with any woman. When pushed by his friends why he won't settle down, he says it's because he is almost finished with his boat and he's going to sail around the world. When pushed even further, the ghost is revealed - he doesn't want to be tied down the way his parents were. They fought all the time. He has bad memories of growing up, his father blamed his mother for ruining his dreams of being a musician, and it is only by unlocking these memories and facing his ghost that this man can move forward and find true love.


Authors also write with a narrative that is casual, and we develop a knack for what is terms 'turns of phrase' which is a way of expressing something, in writing or speech, that stands out in a particular way. Authors learn the craft of dialogue, colorful prose, and let's face it, we often dabble in poetry. 


Another important part of novel writing is the character arc. A typical character arc is one where a character starts out one way, goes on a journey, and comes back another way, hopefully better, because that's what readers like. A perfect example of a character arc is "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. The song is about a father who has no time for a son, and then his son grows up and his father wants to spend time with him, but the son has no time for the father. Not the happily ever after, but a great example of a complete character arc.


Music and writing have always influenced each other. It happened to me when I was stuck for an ending for one of my stories. I heard a song and the ending popped into my head.


My songwriting has improved because of the work gone into crafting my novels, developing characters, writing great dialogue, writing plots, writing character arcs. 


And I'm being honest. I'm being more honest with my songwriter than I've ever been and this is what's making them so much better. There might still be a little embellishment going on, and some are totally fictional, but they are all better because of my novel writing.


The next step, continue writing novels of course, but I want to record these songs and either perform them myself or seek a publisher.

Here is a link to one of these new songs. It is an unmastered live recording. Forgive the quality and the skill, I never was the greatest singer or musician.

Memory Lane by Deborah Richardson




Enjoy your day, and thanks for letting me share my day with you.


Deb Richardson

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