Back in high school, one of my projects for Creative Writing class was to come up with a new type of writing exercise which would then be considered for implementation in future classes. When so plainly stated, it may sound like a cop-out for the teacher, but you have to understand that such a great portion of this class focused around the free-time necessary to do a great deal of writing, it could’ve included a few more specific projects

The first idea I had (which I believe was used in later years) was writing a script for a stand-up comedy routine. Not exactly the usual object one would think of when they hear the words ‘creative writing.’ However, there’s a good reason why it’s helpful. Writing is about flow. How do you take your reader from one subject to the next? Considering flow for character dialogue is good because when people talk they drift from topic to topic, often without any sense of the changes. Writing a stand-up routine can really help one develop this sense of subtly-creeping flow.

In my second year of taking Creative Writing, I offered a much less tangible project which I’ve come to call Musicwriting. No, not the sort that has a song as a product. I’m referring to a careful manipulation of your psychological framework in order to maximize a specific tonality in your writing through an emotionally-driven auditory stimulant (to offer a mouthful of a definition). I had been using this for the previous year, and since offering it in the class, have discovered more subtleties about the approach.

My creativity is very affected by my mood, so it is necessary to be able to direct my emotional status at will. With my fanfiction book, Least of These, Musicwriting became a matter of thorough dependence. I was switching back and forth between two very distinct viewpoints and needed help separating the moods of each character. I talk a little about it here.

Essentially the idea is one of developing a consistency in emotional appeal by having a concrete standard that keeps drawing your mind back to the same foundation. I’m not sure how well this works for other people but I’ve had wonderful results. Finding a few really good artists whose music is very well crafted in all aspects is necessary. I could never endorse Musicwriting to many of what makes it into the Top 40. And if you can’t write when someone is singing lyrics, be assured, there’s instrumental music out there in every genre as well. It’s just a little harder to find some of it. Maybe turn the volume down just a bit and see if you can’t learn to write through it.

Initially the idea of maintaining an emotional foundation actually came from a different approach. I was trying to develop a Musicreading genre, wherein the reader’s emotional center is manipulated by the writer who provides little notes suggesting what the reader should listen to musically while reading the following segment. I’ve only written a handful of stories that have these notes and all of them were during high school. It takes a pretty hefty amount of investment to try to offer music as primers for story because more often than not, readers will try to associate the lyrics with the story, when I was really trying to set an emotional appeal.

And in the end, I realized that by making the reader listen to the music, I was cutting out of the back room on my job as a writer to create  that feeling for the reader, rather than tell him to find it himself. So, I turned around the method and developed Musicwriting. Now certainly I’m not the only one who does this, in fact I would guess more authors do this than not. I’m just offering my own story as to how this became so important to my method.

As I knead Sunlost toward a finished book, and as am faced with a number of frustrations in other areas of my life, pleasant music has become very helpful. I’ve found myself listening to Candyrat’s artists more than a few times. Check out Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier below!

Sunlost is narrated by Denver Ansara. He’s a mildly cautious person, not really because he’s afraid, but he’s inexperienced. He’s surrounded by people who seem much more at home in their skin than he feels. After everything that happened, after the Sun evaporated which brought society to the brink of annihilation, Denver wonders whether he should face his past and what has already been lost. Wouldn’t it be easier just to let things be? After all, he knows there’s nothing he can actually do about it. Among a few million survivors, he figures he won’t have to make the hard decisions if an opportunity for rescue presents itself. But if no one else acts, what then?

Denver surprises even himself…

Keep checking back, folks. I’ll be offering snippets soon! Sunlost is on its way!