Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writing lesson from Snow Patrol: tease and smash

(This "golden oldie" NRJW post was originally published on June 12, 2006.)

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?

1 comment:

Toby said...

This is fantastic!