Seducing the Muse (Part Two)
Many writers listen to music when they write. The choice, of course, varies with the individual. Some people prefer soothing, classical music in the background. Others like the quick tempo of some celtc or the hard–driving beat of rock. One thing that has worked well for me on occassion was to match the mood of the music to the mood I was trying to create in a given scene. (I’m particularly fond of the William Tell Overture for action scenes.) Another technique is to play the music that your character would listen to. Just figuring out your character’s musical preferences can be a great way to get inside a character’s head.
For me, sight plays a lesser role in feeding the muse during the actual writing process, probably because my eyes are on the screen or on my notes. Sometimes, if I need a little help getting into the special world of my novel, I’ll hang pictures of places similiar to the setting I’m trying to create. On a purely subconscious level, however, the stunning scenery of the Pacific Northwest has infused my mind and spirit, and spilled over into my writing. So go through your life mindfully. Notice the way the bright orange and red and gold of the changing leaves contrast with the deep green of the spruces and the slate gray of the sky on an autumn day. Pay attention to the soft drift of snow against the dark night as the world approaches misdwinter. Not only will you write better, but your life will be fuller and richer for it.
I have heard of writers who dress up like their characters to get a feel for how the clothes hang and the texture of the fabric. I’ll admit, I’ve never gone to that extreme. But by virtue of being alive for however long you’ve graced the planet, you have a wealth of sensory detail banked in your memeory. If your character is running through a rainstorm, try to remember all the cold, wet, miserable details of the last time you got caught out in the rain. Piggy-back that onto the time when you were five and you were running for your life from the neighbor’s big, scary dog, your heart pounding like Secretariat coming down the backstretch, and you have yourself a vivid scene.
And a final note. . .
Consider mining sensory detail for story ideas. Guaranteed that any event in your life over a week old that you still remember with vivid sensory detail is probably significant to you, perhaps in some way you have not yet realized. Change the details to protect the guilty, increase the stakes, and you just might have the beginning of a story.