Michaeline: Music behind the words

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” – Edgar Allen Poe (sourced from Goodreads)

We’ve talked many times on this blog about creating a playlist to help us get a better grip on character, setting or the feeling of a plot. And we’ve also discussed (here and among ourselves) the power of a good writing soundtrack that helps us tune out the world and dip into that trance state where good writing just flows.

And I believe we may have even mentioned the usefulness of reading a late draft aloud; we catch things we’d otherwise miss, and the spoken word highlights the underlying rhythms of the written text.

I suppose you could mark it out deliberately, and tell me just how many iambs I have in my pentameter. And a good writing teacher would say, when you put your rhythms in play, they should not mark the time, nor dally in rhyme, like a limerick on spring holiday. Those teachers probably have a point. On the other hand, using a series of short, sharp words to slap a guy in the face is legit, I think. Or flowing down a river of sounds and rhythm when you want to evoke a lazy mood is another thing.

There is a rhythm to writing, good or bad. I recently ran across an interesting clip of Steve Allen playing jazz piano while Jack Kerouac gives a short reading. They go well together, and if you’ll give it seven minutes of your time, you may find yourself meditating on the music behind the language.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LLpNKo09Xk

And I’ll leave you with this quote.

 “I’m very much aware in the writing of dialogue, or even in the narrative too, of a rhythm. There has to be a rhythm with it … Interviewers have said, you like jazz, don’t you? Because we can hear it in your writing. And I thought that was a compliment.” – Elmore Leonard (sourced from Goodreads)

Nancy: Justified Part 3: My Enemy, Myself

Justified_2010_IntertitleFor the past two weeks, we’ve discussed elements of the TV series Justified, based on the Elmore Leonard short story Fire in the Hole. First, we looked at the inciting incident and how it introduced us to the story world and our protagonist. Last week, we looked at the ways the writers created hero empathy. This week, we’re looking at my absolute favorite element of the show: the relationship between the protagonist (Raylan Givens) and his nemesis (Boyd Crowder).

First, it’s important to establish the difference between an antagonist and a nemesis. An antagonist is an opponent. Throughout the series, Givens has a number of these, with one main antagonist per season. But a nemesis is an archenemy, a source of conflict throughout the entire story arc, in this case, the six seasons of Justified. And for our purposes, it’s also important to note that the nemesis character, as Michael Hague would describe it, embodies the hero’s inner journey. Continue reading

Nancy: Justified (and Why That Prologue You Love Probably Isn’t)

Justified_2010_IntertitleI’ve spent the past month not getting very far on my own story, so instead of spending a post talking about my progress (dismal), I thought I’d talk about someone else’s story. Justified is a TV series based on an Elmore Leonard short story called Fire in the Hole. And when I’ve come home late at night, too tired to work on my own WIP or even to make much of a dent in my overflowing TBR pile, I’ve been able to satisfy my craving for good story by binge-watching this series (available through Amazon Prime, in case you’re interested in checking it out for yourself). I’ve been enjoying the writing on this series so much, I thought I’d spend some time here talking about the craft behind it.

First, the disclaimers. I haven’t read Leonard’s short story, and I don’t plan to do so until I’ve finished watching all six seasons of the series (I’ve watched the first three so far). Leonard was involved with the series, which I love because it means they’ve kept a lot of his original vision in the story, and the head writer/show runner Graham Yost has made a concerted effort to keep close to that writer’s voice. But I’ve heard there are differences, Continue reading