Patti is a contributor to the Southern Authors blog A Good Blog is Hard To Find.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Songwriting and Novel Writing -- Storytelling?

Songwriting and Storytelling

So this weekend I'm speaking at Eddie’s Attic with author and friend, Jack Riggs (Saturday, 3PM). The subject: how songwriting and storytelling inform and enrich one another. In my new novella THE PERFECT LOVE SONG, I was only able to write the first two stanzas of this perfect song. So case in point: it is harder to write a song-story than a novel-story. A good songwriter (ie: my favorite Vince Gill) can say more in one stanza than I can say in three hundred pages.

Being on Eddie’s Attic stage (where greats like Sugarland started) will be a thrill even if I’m only there because the word SONG is in my title. I’ll take it however I can get it…

Jack IS a songwriter, and from what I hear, he’ll sing us a song that afternoon. I won’t sing. I promise.

Right now though, I’d love to hear what you think the differences and similarities are between songwriting and novel writing. Yes, both are forms of storytelling, but tell me….what do you think?

Tell me: [email protected] OR post below!


Blogger Susan Cushman said...

(Good) song lyrics are a bit like (good) poetry: each stanza, each line, each word, holds as much power as a chapter in long-form narrative writing like essays, short stories, and books. The song-writer has less space to "get it right." I think that's one reason the words to songs stay with us so long (in addition to the melodies). That said, when a writer "gets it right," her words can also be immortalized in our hearts. If writers could sustain the poet's level of writing for an entire book, it would be a treasure.

Blogger Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Having been married to a professional songwriter for many years, I have seen songwriting up close and can honestly say that, although they both can be stories well told, the song and the novel are actually like apples and oranges to me. To transcend the mediocre, they both require a unique idea, but whereas the novel can traverse many varied landscapes of thought while on the journey to its conclusion, a song needs to crystalize and hone one idea till it shines like gold. Possessing a power not unlike that of poetry, a song is capable of reaching something in that most deeply felt and inarticulate part of the soul, leaving the listener with a personal connection that is at once completely universal and totally subjective. And of course, the added ingredient that is melody can truly lift the song to another level altogether. The beauty of Johnny Mercer’s lyric in Moon River is undeniable, but when combined with Mr. Mancini’s melody, that song becomes a creation that carves a furrow in the heart.

There have been, and continue to be, many novels that have shaped my thinking and that remain with me still in the library of my mind - I can pull them out and revisit them at will. Songs seem more ethereal somehow, a bit of essential colour that has been woven into the threads that make up the tapestry of my life. Plus, you can dance to them.


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