Music Monday: Word Play Through Metaphor & Imagery

I’m diving back into novel-writing mode again. I was there between August and November of last year, especially the entire month of November. After that I resurfaced to focus on some other things and to walk away from my November novel so that when I returned, I would be able to evaluate its first draft with more objectivity.

Having read it through a week ago, I am happy to say that this novel’s first draft is more complete than I thought it would be and I think it has some decent potential. Now my job is to whistle the details into line so they’re consistent throughout, to tie up a couple ends that I left loose, and to flesh out the story, especially so the reader can believe the motivation driving the characters’ actions, words, and choices. I also need to do some research on a number of subjects that turn the story.
One thing that surprised me when I started writing fiction is that I can often listen to music while writing. And I’m talking about music with lyrics. It turns out good lyrics move me to write. There are two lines from two songs in particular that stick with me because the imagery and the metaphorical verbs and nouns are so potent they communicate an entire story with just a handful of words. Check it out:

From The Killers — When You Were Young:

We’re burning down the highway skyline
On the back of a hurricane that started turning
When you were young

From Red Hot Chili Peppers — Scar Tissue:

(Right now my very favorite song lyric)

Falling all over myself
To lick your heart
And taste your health

The verb choices and the imagery of this one . . . it’s so desperate. It’s physical, intimate, even sensual.
Both sets of lyrics are intense. Both share a story of their lovers’ histories. So much story there from three short lines.

I’m not at the point of laboring over the exact words in my novel yet. I’m still working the plot and the character development, and carving the pieces so they fit together. But the complicated layers of music from bands like the Chili Peppers stirs my emotions into the frenzy that I need for novel-writing. And catching the brilliant word play during my sit-back-and-breathe moments motivates me to work toward that stage where I’ll get to fiddle with the words.

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