with guest Helen Gray
Plato said, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for all the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”
Agent Karen Ball described writing that sings as writing “that calls to my heart and mind, that draws me in and, in the process, changes me.”
Let’s do some analogies.
What is a melody?
• A melody is a series of notes played one after the other.
• A good melody is a series of notes that is highly memorable and that feels complete when we listen to it from start to finish.
• A good melody must be pleasing and interesting, and it must come to a logical conclusion.
• A good melody can produce a strong emotional response in a listener.
What is a book?
• A book is a series of scenes written one after the other.
• A good book or scene is a series of scenes that are highly memorable and that feel complete when we read it from start to finish. A good book must be pleasing and interesting, and it must come to a logical conclusion.
• A good book can produce a strong emotional response in a reader.
What constitutes a flawless performance in music or writing?
• The performance often looks easy enough, so easy that the listener or the reader feels that, with a little practice, he/she could do just as well.
• Part of the secret of stardom in any career is the perfection of techniques to such a degree that a production is so beautiful, so smooth, and so polished that it appears to be effortless.
Every written communication is a production put on by the writer.
• A career writer, therefore, is more than a scribbler of messages; actually, she/he is a music maker. His/her sentences, paragraphs, and entire communications can be made to sing just as truly as a violin and a bow can be made to sing.
• A poor writer is poor because he continually sounds "sour" notes and makes glaring errors.
• An average writer is average because he occasionally "flats" a note by writing sentences without refinements that are the mark of a polished performance.
• The highest accolade goes to the writer who is an artist, the communicator whose words make flawless music. To become a star on the writing stage, a performer must perfect his command of advanced writing techniques.
What are some techniques that make our writing sing?
• To perform acceptably as a writer, we must have facility in the use of synonyms, antonymns, and homonyms.
• We must avoid trite expression, repetitious wording, and negative wrods.
• We must communicate in a precise manner.
• Positive words are pleasant to hear and to read.
• They are words that create a receptive, pleasant glow in the mind of a reader.
• The master writer knowingly uses words that produce this desirable psychological effect.
Here are some words that evoke a positive response.
advancement courage genuine satisfaction
agreeable eager gratify success
attractive earnest happy trustworthy
cheerful easy integrity valued
comfortable encourage liberal victory
compensation enjoy pleasure warmth
confident fortunate profit welcome
cordial generosity progress willingness
Planned Repetition of Words
• Repetition is one of the cardinal principles of advertising; therefore, an ad writer must be adept in planned repetition of words.
• The following ad is repetitious, but the repetition is clever and purposeful.
Aspirin will add years to your life, and Aspirin will add life to your years.
Words and the Sound of Music
A sentence sings when the words in that sentence create a flow of pleasant sounds. To compose sentences that flow smoothly, a writer should avoid the following:
• Using Too many Harsh Sounds.
In our language there are many unpleasant-sounding consonants; j, dj, ks, qu, nk, sh, s. Listen to the sound of these words: gesture, satchel, tragic, illegible, church, cabbage, virtue, anxious, bushel. Listen to the harsh music produced by too lavish a use of the unpleasant s and sho sounds in the tongue-twister "She sells seashells by the seashore."
• Using Too Many Similar Sounds
Many words, although different in meaning and in spelling, ahve similar sounds. An expert watches for these sounds and does not use too many like sounds in any one sentence.
• Correcting the This or Thus Fault
A rather common writing fault is the use of this or thus to refer to an entire preceding thought. This lack of definiteness sometimes forces a reader to rread, or to recast, a sentence in order to comprehend the writer's meaning.
• Correcting the So and the And So Faults
Another technique of the polished writer is to avoid the writing of sentences in which so or and so is used to introduce a clause.
Music and writing must both FLOW. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. When someone is in this state, they're practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance.
Then, when a book is finally finished, we get to do the re-write. We are the technician tuning the instrument/book, adjusting chords, vibrato, pianissimo, all done utilizing a choice of verbs and reflection.
Does your writing sing? How can you put the melody in your stories?
My second book, Ozark Reunion, released June 1. Leave a comment today for a chance to win your own copy. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!
COMING HOME IS BITTERSWEET FOR RILEY BLAKE
aftermath of the Great Depression, it's time for Riley to start over.
And the first step is winning the trust of his Missouri hometown. But it
isn't easy for a man with a troubled past. Especially when his first
love, Jolene Delaney, seems to believe that the new rumors about him are
After Riley broke her heart, Jolene threw herself into teaching school and caring for her father and little sister. But she knows something is missing from her life. Especially when she comes face-to-face with Riley again. Can he convince Jolene that he's truly a changed man? Or will he succumb to old temptations and destroy her faith in him once again?
Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, became an amateur ventriloquist and directed/accompanied church music programs. Now that she is retired and the children are grown, she has resumed the writing she began when they were small.
Her stories are meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.
Helen's latest booksigning at Wal-mart!