Music was the answer to most of the problems or blocks that I experienced with writing. When I’m stalled it’s usually because I can’t ‘see’ the part of the book that I’m working on. It’s hard for me to write scenes with the correct tempo without feeling it. Fast paced beats offered the driven pace to write chase scene. Tender love ballads helped slow the speed of the sentence and affected word choices. The best way to make the story and characters come to life was by sharing the emotional mood. If I couldn’t feel the emotion — melancholy, anger, longing, joy — in the scene then how would the reader experience it?
Yet, for some reasons I never connected this answer –music– to the issue I was having with writing romance. I thought I just needed to read more romantic suspense books (not a bad idea, it’s really hard to write a type of story you don’t read) and needed to read more how to write romance books (okay, sometimes I go overboard with these and use every suggestion and land up confusing myself and with a complete mess … like my first attempt at romantic suspense). I did these two thing and found myself still struggling.
With Lost Then Found, I didn’t want to give up on the project. This book spoke to me in a way that a project hadn’t in a long time and I wanted to share it. Get it published. But first I had to ensure that the motivation for the heroine and hero falling back in love was felt by readers. I got it but others not so much. And I needed …wanted … everyone to get to know and love these characters and experience their growth and rekindled romance.
I needed to find a way to ‘get’ the romance writing part of writing a romantic suspense. The suspense I had down but the relationship between the heroine and the hero wasn’t strong enough. The conflict between the heroine and hero was understood but the happily ever after ending wasn’t believable to anyone but me. Then came my ah-ha moment.
I heard a song (Away in Silence by Creed) and thought ‘that fits Renee and Jonas perfectly’. I could see a ‘trailer’ of the story when the song played. Saw bits of the couples past, present, and a hope for their future. Yes. This was their song. I listened to it over and over again, memorizing not the individual words but the feeling and mood that the lyrics portrayed. The regret. The pain. The apology. The hope of forgiveness. I went back and edited the book, keeping the song in mind — and playing it when I had to — in order to portray those emotions to the reader.
Theme song search is now part of my research for each book. At times it’s harder and more time consuming than other areas of research but it is vital to me. Sometimes, I’ll find the perfect song that will fit a different project (which I will note so I don’t forget) . But I don’t stop looking or stop writing. I know the song will ‘announce’ itself to me and it might be when I least expect it .
Since I’m starting a new book, it’s time to start the quest for the perfect song. A good day for it as both American Idol and Glee are on tonight.