Thursday, January 07, 2016


Writing a novel to an outline is rather like improvising a guitar solo over a chord sequence. You know where you are going but might surprise yourself along the way! Every note is a decision that leads to another; so it is with the words we write down, the resolutions we reach.

In both instances, practice makes us better. At the same time, there is a tendency to fall into patterns, to repeat ourselves rather than reach for the 'outside' note, the choice that changes all that follows.

I recall some guitarist of renown or another saying that he followed the 'fifty-fifty' rule of soloing. That is, any note has a fifty-fifty chance of being 'right.' The thing is that all one needs do is slide one fret up or down and it becomes right — it is resolved. What follows it is what matters, what makes it work. This requires the player to use his ears as much as or more than his hands, not just be mechanically good.

One might say that each note is a question to be answered. So it is with writing. Think about the questions constantly being raised and do not be afraid to find answers or make new decisions. What if this followed instead of that? Where might this choice lead? If one plows ahead without asking, both the writing and the music will plod, not soar.

If your song structure is good, your outline valid, you will in time end up on that final chord.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

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