My biggest advice to those who want to write and those who do write, either as a hobby, career, or obsession.
Here we go. I’m going to give you a random story beginning, and a random story end. Your job is to fill in the middle to make it into one story.
Gordy Hartfoot sat in the rickety old bench, overlooking the grain fields across his 14 acres of golden farmlands, wondering where the years had gone, when he saw a movement in a bush just a few feet from the porch.
“What in tarnation?” he said, standing up with shaky hands against his chair.
He rubbed his eyes as something large burst from the bush. He rubbed at his cataract-filled eyes and looked again.
There, standing at the foot of his porch, was the largest rodent Gordy had ever seen…
YOUR MIDDLE HERE
…Deedra opened the satchel and pulled out the glowing blue vial, holding it out for the monster to see.
“It’s too late, Corandar!” she shouted, “The Guild Wars are OVER!”
Then the cast the vial at the feet of the massive beast. With an explosion of blue smoke billowing from the broken vial, a gust of wind began swirling around the beast.
With a cry of agony and desperation, the monster screeched a horrific roar that echoed into the night, drowned out only by the roaring of the whirling typhoon, as it lifted Corandar out of the water, tearing him to shreds and casting the particles for miles over the surface of the sea.
“Come on, Borameer,” Deedra said as the winds calmed. “Let’s go home.”
Okay, now see if you can make these into one story. Write a middle in the comments. Have fun!
1 Nephi 1:1
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
I’m trying an experiment. I’ve found that writing is a form of pondering – a very powerful form of pondering, so I’m going to try reading the Book of Mormon slowly, writing about each verse. I would guess that this is the most widely read verse in the whole Book of Mormon, simply because it is the first verse. If I were going to explore the scriptures verse by verse, trying to get as much out of them as possible, I might start with a few questions about how this verse starts. I ask these questions, either because I don’t know the answer, or in hopes that in exploring the answers I already know, I might learn something new.
Why does Nephi write in first person? As far as I can tell, Moses, Isaiah, and most of the Old Testament prophets wrote in third person. Why then does Nephi choose 1st person for his narrative?
There you go. I’m already stuck on the word, “I.” I’ve just been doing a bit of searching, and so far I can’t find a reason. Any Ideas?
I blew it. My first chance and I blew it!
I’ve had a silly idea for a long time. Jenni and I don’t have a TV, so we never see regular episodes of anything. We do rent movies on DVD and watch them on the computer, but we’re determined not to get a TV. I’ve been working on my most recent book quite a bit lately, and I was talking to someone about it, and how much fun it has been to write. When the person I was talking to said, “How do you get the time?!” I fumbled with stuff about getting up early or staying up late, and a little about determination, blah, blah, blah.
After I left, I slapped myself on the forehead. I forgot – completely forgot! See, I’d had this idea that if anyone ever asked me how I get time to write books or CD’s, I’d simply say, “I don’t watch TV, and in the time I would have been watching, I write.”
But I forgot. Blew it on my first chance. Oh, well. Guess I better give up movies so I’ll have more time to write more and when someone asks where I get the time, I can tell them I don’t watch anything at all…
Maybe someday I’ll put this to music, but for now, here’s my latest poetic composition…
Ode to My Kia Sedona
by Chas Hathaway
I can’t help but thinking
The one I have now’s not sufficient
My old pick,
But not too aesthetic
I’d long since gave up as deficient
The first time I saw you
I knew you’d be mine
You wanted me too
After six months garaging full-time
the mid-day light
The hue of the sun’s full corona
A brilliant white
I venture to write
This ode to my Kia Sedona
Made sounds that were clattery
The price to get fixed made me cower
At great cost,
When came calling Jack Frost
A short wired fuse drained your power
So to the mechanic
I drove you that day
The price made me panic
As I walked irately away
the mid-day light
The hue of the sun’s full corona
A brilliant white
I venture to write
This ode to my Kia Sedona
After wilderness stamping
We notice you had a flat tire
Now race it,
A new flat displaced it
Halfway home – I think cars conspire
Back to the shop
Once again you won’t start
Alternator’s a flop
‘Till we save up the cost for the part
In case you’re ideal’s
on a new set of wheels
Before your trip through Arizona
Consider my plight
Get the car that’s right
Just don’t get a Kia Sedona
Music has a powerful effect on the mind and heart. It can change the entire mood of an environment in seconds. While there may be different factors that determine what music effects people in what way – such as personal taste and style, music is a powerful influence. This has always been the case. And I am not only speaking of New Age or classical music. I am speaking of all kinds of music – pop, country, classical, rock, hip-hop, alternative, rap, a capella, folk, hymns, chant, Jazz, oldies, choir, not to mention all the world music – Celtic, African, South American, Middle Eastern, Asian, Aboriginal, and so forth.
Music has power.
Because of this, I think it is very important that we recognize that music is not an end of itself.
There is a popular idea which toys with the idea of music for it’s own sake. Or you might say, music as a contribution to the arts in general. I can understand that, but I don’t like that idea. I simply don’t. I suppose that makes me a bit of an outlaw in the field of the arts, but if music is written for no intent at all, then what is it worth?
Why do I say this? Mainly I am concerned that if we put too much emphasis on music for its own sake, we may praise it while overlooking its intended message. Some call pornography an art. I used to disagree with that, until I reminded that art is not necessarily good of itself. Whether or not pornography is an art is irrelevant. There is good, clean art, which portrays positive messages, and there is evil art, which carries poison that can destroy the soul.
If masterful music is put to a degrading message, can we really praise the music as being a positive influence on society? I don’t believe so. In fact, such music is more poisonous than if the message was put to a discordant, unpleasant sound. Skill, talent, and power can be used for evil just as they can be used for good.
Some use the beauty and talent of an artistic portrayal to justify it as a worthy influence. But satan will use as much “light” as necessary to sneak in a dark message. You may have an entire glass of fresh juice, but one drop of a strong poison will still kill – even if the poison doesn’t effect the flavor of the juice.
Basically, there is music of God, and there is music of satan. Art and music are not good or bad of themselves. They are only as good or as bad as their message.
Music is a remarkable thing. So is the mind and the heart. Together, these three elements can create beautiful music for all who hear it. I’ve noticed that generally it is the simpler music that touches people most deeply. I encourage any who enjoy listening to music to give writing music a try. The best indicator to tell if you have ability to write music is to notice how much you enjoy listening to it. The more you enjoy listening to it, the more developed your mental ear is, and the greater capacity your mind has to bring new music to life. This may be hard to believe, but in my experience, it is true.
Many people, even musicians, may try to convince you that music writing is something you’ve either ‘got’ or you don’t. Don’t believe them. This is but a convenient way to make musicianship sound unreachable for the inexperienced.
The truth is, even the most gifted musicians have developed the capacities we have been discussing, but they rarely know how to explain it, because so much of what is happening in practice is internal. So they only explain those things which are easily explained – the note values, the time signatures, and the drill techniques. These are all good, but they are only the technical parts. I hope in this series I’ve been able to convey some internal ideas that are used in playing and writing music.
That is not an easy task, but I hope my attempts prove helpful in your quest to play and write music, by ear and by heart.
The Sound Method
The basic idea of the sound method also works with silence, but silence can be a little more difficult to find in the busy world that we live in. If the opportunity presents itself, try creating music using only your mental ear while you are in complete silence.
Also, have you ever noticed that when you sit or lay in complete silence – perhaps shortly before you begin to fall asleep, you can occasionally imagine sounds so well that you can almost convince yourself that you actually hear them? I don’t think this is anything strange. As your mind approaches sleep, it will sometimes begin to drift into dreaming before you have completely fallen asleep.
If you ever find yourself drifting off, and are aware that you are doing so, try playing with your mental ear. You may, on occasion, find that you can make yourself hear music – not actually hear it, but almost hear it. If it works, you may find that you can create beautiful music, much in the same way you would if you used the sound method. The only caution with the sleepy method is that if you fall asleep completely, you’ll probably forget what your music sounded like.
In speaking of these methods, I hope not to create the impression that writing music by heart requires some kind of deep meditation or something. That is not the case at all. Actually, these sound and silence methods work best if you have already created some of your own music using the basic methods we’ve already discussed. Sound and silence methods are just a fun way to play with your developing mental ear.
Music is a simple thing that promotes emotion and motivation, and is best created with that idea in mind.
If this method does prove itself effective for you, you may find that it is not difficult to invent a tune while humming during a walk, or whistling while you work. You will likely find that you can spontaneously begin humming a tune that you have never before heard, and perhaps you will never hear again – unless you have a piano handy. Try some things out, and you may be surprised how easily you can write original music.