Story Inspiration Sunday

(Subtitled: Novel plotting edition)

My short story assignments haven’t come yet. This is good — it means I’ll finish the current novel before they arrive.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on another novel as well. I’ve often said that I have a two-plot novel brain: While I’m writing one novel, I can generally also spend time noodling around and plotting out a second novel. I can’t do more than two at a time, though. I also can’t write on more than one novel at a time, and I envy those who can!

So–let tell you a secret.

It’s just us, right?

JC_Preaching

My most recently published novels, Siren’s Call, is actually the first book in a series. (I don’t want to advertise this because I’m afraid people will not want to read the first one if they know more are coming. But each of these novels is completely stand alone. They can even be read out of order.)

There are four other books planned: I have titles, vague plots, and cover ideas for all of them.

The next book is called Pan’s Pipes. The simplest description of the plot: Street kids are disappearing.

One of the characters in this novel, not Pan, but a friend of his, I see as a young Johnny Cash, dressed all in black, as a street preacher. It’s that voice that gets me.

How am I plotting this novel? I have most of the “American” recordings, done by Rick Rubin, just before Cash’s death. I keep pulling songs out of the various albums and putting them into a playlist, then re-arranging them, searching for just the right combination to reflect every chapter in the novel.

A novel has an ebb and flow, high points and low points, fast and slow. The first song is always the same–“The Man Comes Around.” It’s Revelations. It’s this preacher. Then I dither about the next song. “Hurt” is the current choice, but it probably won’t be the final.

One of the high points, probably in the middle, is “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” Good stomping beat of the antagonists coming to attack. “Further On Up The Road” is their prep for the battle and comes just before.

It’s kind of odd, I realize, to be plotting a novel based on the emotional journey of the bad guys, particularly since the novel will be written from the protagonist’s POV. But that’s just how this novel’s story is unveiling itself to me.

So how about you? Do you ever use a playlist of songs to plot out something? Rearranging the tunes to better reflect the the ups and downs?

Johnny-Cash-002

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Story Inspiration Sunday — 2 Comments

  1. Leah — Music is so embedded in our lives, it’s hard not to write with some lyric or rhythm or melody in our heads when we write, eh? I often use music — sometimes as inspiration, sometimes as a background as I write. I’ve never created a chapter-by-chapter playlist, though… what an idea! Thanks!

  2. Not at the beginning, but at the end. Suddenly, when the work has grown enough, all the characters develop decided musical tastes which then have to be laboriously worked into the ms.