Monday, June 12, 2006

Writing lesson from Snow Patrol: tease and smash

Posted by Brenda Coulter at No rules. Just write.

Over the weekend I downloaded a couple of Snow Patrol CDs for my iPod. I was already familiar with several of the alternative-rock group's songs, but what made me hit the "purchase now" button was this bit from Mike McGonigal's editorial review of the "Eyes Open" CD: "If there was ever perfect music to get lost to while driving around confused about a relationship, this is it."

I imagine he's right. Which is why that CD has been rattling my office windows this morning as I work on my romance novel.

Believe it or not, this middle-aged writer has a great deal in common with that bunch of twentysomething Scottish/Irish alt-rockers. I, too, am creative, and I know what it's like to strive to express a particular mood. I, too, start with a snatch of "melody" and a handful of images and then begin shaping my piece, adding a little here, carving off a bit there. I know what it's like to stand back and look at my creation and feel those flutters in my gut and know that something's not right, something more is needed--or perhaps something less. And I know the satisfaction of having created a work that resonates with my audience.

Last night I perused the (digital) liner notes on the "Wide Awake" CD, in which frontman and lyricist Gary Lightbody wrote about the song "Open Your Eyes":

It was the most ambitious song we have ever attempted. Built around one hypnotic rift and a very claustrophobic opening verse which opens...out into an ever building, rolling landscape. We wanted to increase the tension in the song to the point where when the final release came it made you exhale. We wanted it to tease and then smash.

I especially liked that part about teasing and then smashing. That's precisely what I try to do with my romance novels: Draw you in, encourage you to live the story right along with my characters, and then rip your heart out. Tease and smash. Of course, with a romance novel there's an extra step, which is bringing the hero and heroine back together and giving them an emotionally satisfying ending.

I've never written a song, but I think I know what it feels like to write one. Similarly, I believe Gary Lightbody knows what it feels like to write a romance novel. Do you suppose he realizes that?

UPDATED 11:45a.m. EST

Welcome, visitors from Miss Snark, the literary agent. I appreciate her linking, but the post you're looking for is yesterday's. Thanks for stopping by. Have fun!

The byline at top of this post has been added to foil a site which has been stealing my daily posts and passing them off as its own. See this post for details.

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Jenny said...

Hey Brenda,
I'm not sure but what those plots dancing around in my brain do the tease and smash on me. Gotta get'm out or die trying sometimes.
Also, I've been following about your blog theft misadventures and still cannot believe it really happens--I don't doubt you but that anyone would be THAT bold or brazen. I hope you are able to turn this in your favor with book sales. If it works for you, be sure to let us all know. Serves the thieves right. Wishing you all the best.

Abundant blessings,

Jenny Cary

Brenda Coulter said...

Thanks, Jenny. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

Shelley said...

"That's precisely what I try to do with my romance novels: Draw you in, encourage you to live the story right along with my characters, and then rip your heart out."

Girl...let me tell you; you definatley have the knack for that! I just finished reading 'A Family Forever', and I was crying and cheering. I could picture the characters, Tucker's home...everything! Excellent book!!

Now, a question that maybe you can add to your FAQ (unless it's been asked and I didn't see it): When writing romance novels, is there a standard word/page count that is recommended (amount of words/pages), or does the length matter much for this genre?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hey the byline...they did snatch the post by the way....Tomorrow I'd make the byline, "This post was hijacked from No Rules, Just Write"

And every day I'd add something just as despicable as a byline, until they got the point.

This looks like fodder for a book. "The romance writer that was pushed over the edge by music and websites"...LOL

Brenda Coulter said...

I might fantasize about the ugly byline thing, Bonnie, but I can't do it because Metaxu Cafe publishes all of my posts, too. (They have permission--I'm a member of that site.) And as far as these lowlifes "getting the point," you're assuming they can be reasoned with. They can't. I'm not the first blogger they've cheated, and I won't be the last.

Brenda Coulter said...

Shelley, thanks for your kind words about my writing. I'll go put your question on the Q&A page.