I will quote the words of my literature teacher: “You can think of a poem as a song. You don’t really think of a song’s meaning as you listen to it. What you really like is its beat, and tone, and the vocalist’s voice. A poem’s the same way. You don’t really try to find its meaning. You like it’s tone, its beat, and the voice of whoever’s reading it.”
This essay is not about poetry. It’s about story writing. But if poetry is like music, then any type of story or essay writing is like music, too. Writing has a tone; it has a beat; and it has a voice.
When I finished the first book of the Divergent trilogy (always have to bring up that book, don’t I?), I explored around Veronica Roth’s site. And she mentioned in one of her posts that the album “Memento Mori” by Flyleaf had inspired the tone and voice of Divergent. I may not be a big Flyleaf fan, but after listening to “Memento Mori” and realizing how much it mimicked the style of Divergent, I had an epiphany:
Listening to music helps your writing. A lot. And I’ll be metaphorical and say that it seeps into your writing the same way the dye in your tie-dye shirt swirls throughout the cottony fabric. And tie-dye shirts are prettier than your plain white tees, aren’t they? The tones and the styles of Memento Mori swirled throughout Veronica Roth’s book and made it more beautiful.
So I did a self-experiment. While I was writing my first manuscript, I listened to the album “Ceremonials” by Florence + the Machine because the album perfectly mimicked the tone and style of the book I imagined in my head. For some chapters I would listen to that album, and for other chapters I would listen to something else or to nothing at all.
And you know what? The ‘FATM-chapters’ had a more developed voice than the other chapters. It wasn’t that the others chapters were BAD in terms of voice. It’s just that the FATM-chapters were a little bit better. The album “Ceremonials” had seeped into my writing like tie-dye. And even though it seemed a little weird at first, I soon realized how magnificent music could be, especially when it comes to story writing.