Thank you for the music

Shakespeare. I adore him, or rather I adore his way with words ( I suspect he may have been a bit smelly in person). Take the opening lines of Twelfth Night, lovelorn and sentimental though they are,

If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

(I,i, 1-3)

still they express the power of music, the sway it exerts over the imagination open to ‘shapes of fancy’ (I,i, 14).

Shakespeare, however, is not the point of this post. Music is. Music has always flavoured my moods, my thoughts, and my writing. I was quite happily struggling with a short story when the Main Character coalesced into a real person. The trigger was a song. Other songs suggested themselves, a playlist evolved – iTunes is so useful! In the old days I would have to make a mix tape – and there he is, ready, waiting, writable. The last time this happened with such – imperative fervour? force? – was when Belissa stepped forward, almost fully formed, from my imagination.

Strong characters require playlists of individual tracks, component ingredients that round out the character’s flavour. I find this works well for short stories. Novels however require certain albums; these season the mood, the scale, tone of what I write, as I’m writing it. And I already know what I’ll be listening to next month. In the meantime, I’d better open iTunes and get on with the story at hand.