Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Crazy Good Singers Help Me Write

So there's this crazy good singer. She's British. And awesome: Adele.

Then there's this other guy. He's not British. But he's still awesome: Adam Lambert.

So. These two can wail their throats out. Every time they do, I turn into mush. They own me. I have no choice but to listen.

But that's why I love them as a fan

As a writer, I still love them for the same reason, but I also take something else into consideration: when they sing, it's their voices that tell a story, not the song lyrics. 

This is how I see it. I can stand in the middle of the street and read the lyrics to Adele's "Someone Like You" like a grocery list. Sure, the lyrics are pretty powerful by themselves, but I'm 99.9% confident no one will be moved by the lyrics alone. I could do the same with Adam's "Whattaya Want From Me", and people will probably roll their eyes.

Both Adele and Adam are what make my jaw drop. Or cry. Or both.

They teach me that, no matter how pretty my prose is, or how kickass that action sequence was, it's all about the voice. The emotion behind what is said and done. That's what pulls people in. 

Next time you find yourself struggling with that connection between plot and character, listen to your favorite singers. Keep your ears open for when they hit those super high notes, then take you back down. That's pacing, but it's also internalization. Some notes need to be higher because they evoke something stronger in the singer, and the low notes are what build up to them (like the complications you've thrown at your MC throughout the manuscript).

So, yeah. Adele and Adam push me to be a better writer. 

Who knew?

Now tell me: which singers help you? What have they taught you about writing?


  1. I love singers who can really turn a phrase, make poetry out of their words. Buck 65, who's a Scandinavian (if I'm remembering right) rapper, is amazing with that.

  2. Great point. A good singer can totally own me, as can a good book. I like the comparison. Also, love your new blog design!

  3. Yay for Adele and Adam singing to your soul!! Wonderful! take care

  4. Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Gwen Stafani. I love their music and I have them on my writing play-list. But recently I found Christina Grimmie on YouTube. She sings a lot of covers, but the way she sings them gives me the inspiration to write. Can't explain it, but she rocks!

    Awesome post!

  5. Love Adele's music -- so beautiful! I love Muse. The way they weave themes into their lyrics makes it perfect for writing with. And I do ;)

  6. Adele FTW! My cuz got me into her and "Someone Like You" is one of my fave songs right now. I also turn to Kings of Leon and Drake for inspiration. :)