Thursday, April 4, 2013

Listening for Kit

One of my methods of learning more about a character is finding their song. This is a process that requires listening to the radio, CDs, my daughter playing her flute or pretty much any other source of music until such time as I hear something that invokes the character to me. Sometimes it works backward; I hear a song and then I envision a character because of it (one reason why music is such an endless fount of inspiration) but generally I find the song after the character is created.

This search can sometimes take a while and there's no logic to it; I don't try to assign songs to characters or force a character to fit a song. I just know it when I hear it; the song plays, the character comes to life inside my head and I begin seeing them and their story in greater detail. Often the more I listen to the song, the clearer and more defined the character becomes, so I'll replay it over and over until I work out what I need. Music is very visual to me, and this character-song process is something that as a storyteller I've always done without thinking, so I don't jinx it by questioning it. For me, it works.

Creating the protagonist for the Disenchanted & Co. series wasn't difficult at first; she came along with my idea for the universe and outlined quite nicely as I was world-building. Getting to know her well enough to write her, on the other hand, was something I had to do thoroughly, and I knew I needed to find her song. Fortunately I'd just cleaned out some old Paste music magazines and found a couple of free CDs in them that I'd never listened to, and I put them on the stereo to see if they might help. The second one I listened to had a song by Charlotte Martin entitled Stromata, and from the moment it began to play I knew it was Kit's song.

My plan was to link to a sample of the song somewhere and then describe the rest of it for you, but when I went to find Charlotte Martin's web site I discovered she has the full-length version there along with an embed link for player. So if you'd like to hear Kit's song, just turn on your speakers and activate the player here:



I love Charlotte Martin's voice, it moves from a kind of weary hopefulness to a very emotional determination. The music is dramatic and interesting, as are the lyrics, but it's the artist's voice that really helps me zoom in on my construct of Kit's character and feel as well as see her in my mind as a real person. No fictional character is alive, but when you're writing them, you have to believe in them as if they are real people. In this sense, finding a character's song also helps bring them alive for me.

4 comments:

  1. Having heard that song I can't wait to meet Kit properly. Lovely tune and fantastic voice. Music makes such a difference, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing for me, Fran, how often music guides me down the proper paths of getting to know my characters. When I listen to this song (which I admit, I've replayed at least a hundred times) I can actually see Kit's face, hear her voice and watch her move through the story. :)

      Delete
  2. Interesting music and I'd never heard of this artist before.

    I generally don't associate music with my characters because there isn't a moment in the day that I don't have a tune playing in my head and it would just interfere. I tend to associate more with a movie. One movie per book and unfortunately, I'll play that in the background on a loop quite often while I'm writing, but it does drive my family a little crazy sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's fascinating, Theo -- I never considered that intense visuals like movies might inspire in such ways. I wonder how you keep it all running through your mind; my songs are a few minutes versus your movies which have to be, what, at least an hour and a half? You must have phenomenal memory banks. :)

      Delete