Tuesday, 2 December 2008

It's harder than you'd think...

I'm the kind of person who love writing. I don't really care what it is I'm writing, but I like to be writing something.

So, I recently thought "why not have a go at writing a novel". Sounds, easy, doesn't it?

I've written songs and short stories before, so I thought it'd be an interesting diversion to fill in my time during the evenings - and give me an excuse to use the fountain pen which I got as a leaving present from my last job.

I'm sure to some people, writing comes naturally, and they simply "think of a story and write it down" but I find it harder than that. I wrote a rough draft of what how the plot will progress throughout the novel and last week I started the process of writing it out longhand. It's a really enjoyable process, but it's actually difficult to generate the quantity of good prose required to fill a novel.

I don't intend to ever publish the novel, of course. Maybe I will never even finish it. But I'm hoping that writing in a new way will help my songwriting to move in a slightly different direction, too.

Some of the greatest songs ever written are those which tell a story. And the true skill of some song-writers is the ability to tell a story in three or four verses of four lines each. Country music is probably the best place to find the real story songs.

There are some songs which have a point to make and then stick on that point. Imagine by John Lennon is a song like this. It may be a great song, but it doesn't tell a story. It makes a point, and makes the same point for the whole song. I'd never claim to have written any great songs - but all of the songs I've written make a single point and whilst there's a sense of adding depth to that point as the song progresses, there's no narrative advancing throughout the song.

Story songs are hard to write - four lines really isn't very much room in which to advance the narrative in a single verse - but (unless you're Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen) you only have three or four verses in which to make your point so you have to make every verse count.

I'm hoping that by going through the process of writing a novel - which will force me to think in terms of advancing the narrative and controlling the pace at which the story unfolds - will allow me to be able to write songs which tell stories.

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