laceblade: Quinn of Glee, glaring. Bangs, pink ruffled collar, black cardigan. (Glee: Quinn)
laceblade ([personal profile] laceblade) wrote2013-12-08 08:36

[December meme]: Music and character, how they relate [03]

So obviously I'm not posting these on the day they were intended any more. BUT there are a lot of gaps in my "month," so it's possible I'll catch up, or more probably just extend it past December.

Anyway, this prompt is from [personal profile] raanve, & after clarifying on Twitter a little bit, we're going with "music and writing," for me.

As-you-know-Bob, the thing I've been writing for the last couple years is A Song is a Weapon.
Music works a little differently in Glee fandom, as it would not be too random or unsettling for the characters to break into song in the fic itself. And as the title implies, singing does become pretty important to the plot. By the end of the fic, characters will literally sing.

That said, I still have a pretty lengthy "mix" for that FF7 Inception-AU I'd been working on for a while, too.

I find it almost impossible to write without listening to music. This is true even on the rare occasions when I sit down knowing what I'm going to write. Often, if I find a particular song gelling really well with a scene, I'll listen to it over & over until that scene is done.

Often, a lyric or a few lyrics will grab me & there'll be an image or a feeling that happens that I associate with a character in the fic.

Here's one from a few days ago. It hasn't been edited, so please withhold judgment as I'm using it to offer up a peek into my process. idk how other people write, but my process involves producing a lot of bilge.

I recently added Paramore's "Future" to my mix for this fic [which I have yet to update anywhere online - it's been a pretty big overhaul of adding/removing songs]. [Full lyrics here.] This fits into my mental image of Quinn-in-high-school, closing herself off from everyone else after her dad kicked her out of the house due to her pregnancy. In the show, she makes connections with people who help her, & then the relationships are never referred to again. On Glee itself, this is just lazy writing on behalf of the writers. In my fic, I'm trying to make the argument that Quinn used every waking minute to make sure she got into Yale [so she could join Skull & Bones], & researching her father's work and Skull & Bones, and figuring out how to bring them down.

Since the rest of the characters are physically separated from Quinn in my story (due to college/some still being in high school), & also suspicious of her, I haven't gotten into her head much, but after the intensity of season 3 & the shift in everyone else's attitudes, I think the reader needs a better understanding of where Quinn's coming for.
Anyway, the lyric from Paramore's 'Future' that prompted this scene is, "We don't talk about the past," but also the song as a whole - feeling really shitty about something specific that's ruined your life, but having a plan for the future that you can be focused on to help you get through what you have to get through now - in this case, high school.
(ALSO pretty sure the song doesn't mean your goal should be destroying an evil/patriarchal cult but YMMV)
Anyway, here's what I jotted down on a legal pad at work.
Watching her father had been jolting, once. After years of repression, it was jarring to see his face, to hear his voice. We don’t talk about the past, she’d said sharply to Mercedes to cut her off, once. It was one of the last times Mercedes pushed Quinn to talk about how she was really doing - feeling - after Beth was born. There’d been a sharp pang of guilt after seeing the hurt on Mercedes’s face, but Quinn hadn’t let herself acknowledge it. Like her mother, she agreed that not discussing the past was best. Unlike her mother, Quinn was fine with letting the past map out her future quite clearly. She wouldn’t talk about the past - that was fine. But it didn’t mean that she’d forgiven or forgotten. It didn’t mean she’d stopped caring about the puppet strings her father and his cronies had laced throughout the government and the rest of society. Wearing a white dress with matching headband didn’t make her innocent again. Holding up a copy of Pride and Prejudice in glee club didn’t mean she wasn’t reading Robert Kennedy’s The Enemy Within.

This is pretty rough, & a version of this won't end up in the fic.
I don't like "jolting" and "jarring" being in the first two sentences.
I dislike the "sharp pang of guilt" cliche, also the "forgiven or forgotten."
The last few sentences are building toward something, but I totally miss the landing - there's no conclusion.
Most of the text is pretty dramatic & vague, too, and it makes me wrinkle my nose - the sentence about puppet strings especially.
BUT STILL, it captured everything this lyric was making me think, & now it's down on paper.

In addition to the chapter I'm currently working on (4), I have a bunch of other "image flashes" like this for the rest of the fic. 10k words' worth, at the moment. Especially toward the end of the fic, some of these are the same scene - rewritten 2 or 3 times because they've happened different ways in my mind, almost always thanks to listening to different music.

Eventually, I use logic to string them all together.

Sometimes, the image I've jotted down doesn't work - originally chapter 4 ended in a warehouse-type building that looked like one of the reactors from FF7.
Recently, I decided that part of the reason this scene wasn't working was because the whole premise was stupid - it made way more sense to be in a nondescript office building than in a dramatic warehouse - especially since the kids were supposed to be obtaining paper documents.

Sometimes the lyrics of a song can drive the plot of the story. This happens most often when I hear a song for the first time, or after not hearing it for a really long time (so I'm paying closer attention to the lyrics than usual).

Kris Delmhorst's "Yellow Brick Road" ended up giving me a glimpse into how the story ends, & the lyrics are almost perfect for a Wicked-obsessed Rachel Berry. (I won't say too much more than that, lest I give away the conclusion!)

Sometimes too, it's a beat. I played drums in high school, & I can be really drawn to songs/bands because of unusual and/or strong rhythms. Beats are what keep me moving when I'm doing something longer, like editing an entire 8-10k chapter.


UMMMMM, so that's part of how I write. And perhaps also explains why I'm such a slow fucking writer ^^;;
When you write a lot of disjointed crap, it takes a while to get rid of the shit & make it ready to email a draft to a beta, let alone post it for good at AO3.

As always for this meme, additional questions are welcome.
littlebutfierce: (kimi ni todoke kurumi porn)

[personal profile] littlebutfierce 2013-12-08 16:58 (UTC)(link)
<3 I like this post! I don't have the brains or spoons right now to say anything more coherent. But yeah, I find it v. difficult to write w/o music too.
jesse_the_k: Photo of female feet in piano keyboard socks in black patent leather flats (shoes are key)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2013-12-08 18:48 (UTC)(link)
Thank you for that insight. Music trumps just about every other process for me, so you've helped me understand how it could mesh with writing.

OF COURSE YOU PLAYED DRUMS!
raanve: A pile of colorful cassette tapes (Mixtapes)

[personal profile] raanve 2013-12-08 19:03 (UTC)(link)
This is very cool! I love hearing people talk about process. ^__^ I find this description of your process very interesting, partly because I think my fiction process has started to trend more toward something like this and I don't quite know how to manage it? So hearing a bit about how you work with those snippets is useful.

I did not know you played drums, but now that you say it, it makes total sense. -_^