Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Art Versus Music

Are you a visual writer or are you inspired by music?

So many writers I know blog about how they write particular manuscripts while listening to certain bands or albums. I do enjoy music, but I’m a visual person. I’m inspired by things I see, places I’ve been and either photographs or artwork. While I’m researching for a book I collect photos from newspapers or on-line and file them. These visual revolve around in my mind, and become imbued with the emotions and characters of the book.

Currently, I’m writing my Shallow Sea book, which is set in a tropical paradise so I have several computer desktops of tropical islands that I rotate to keep me in the right mood for writing balmy summer settings. (This helps as I’m sitting here wrapped in a blanket with gloves on while I type). When I work on the King Rolen’s Kin series, I use desktops of Russian winters, glimpses of sun streaming through icicles, that sort of thing. The artwork by Alexia Sinclair at the top of this post reminds me of my T’En series, beautiful, dark and sensual.

I tend to get very involved with what I’m writing. I spent a day on a series of scenes on a ship during a bad storm and by the end of the day, I was feeling sea sick. Doh!

Are you a visual writer or do you listen to music?

Artwork by Alexia Sinclair alexiasinclair.com/home.html
Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells

24 comments:

matapam said...

Visual. I have trouble concentrating to write when there's music in the background.

I love Google Earth. I can put a scene anywhere on Earth and I can take a look at the ground, take a look at pictures other people have taken from that spot, rethink my scenes to fit the real terrain. It's so easy to write the scene when you start from that spot _there_, carry the running fight to _there_ and you've just got to tumble someone down those rapids... There's the hotel your main Character will stay in, grousing because he didn't get a room with a view of the rapids he's going to have an almost fatal encounter with tomorrow. Here is the nearby town, umm, look at that house, love the style, must have someone live in a house just like that...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I listen to music. And each book demands its own music.

The funny thing is that I'm profoundly non-visual. Or I was. Until I got concussion. So now I find myself drawing scenes from my books...

On my desk downstairs there's a portrait of a musketeer standing in the doorway of a ruined church. He's naked save for his hat (well, you have to know he's a musketeer.) His broken sword and shredded doublet lie on the floor nearby. There's two fang-punctures on his neck... :-P I find working on it a little bit in the morning makes the writing go easier.

As for what your character does influencing you -- there was this book I wrote (not published. Fourteen years ago) that was a series of battles and cliff climbs. Not only was I always exhausted and starving, i somehow managed to lose weight. Um...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

And, Matapam -- google Earth! Gascony. Duh.

(Writer smacks own forehead.)

warpcordova said...

Sarah:

It's how I got such a detailed map of Ramstein, Germany and Chicago. Google Earth is your friend...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Well, somehow I missed this: http://historicaltweets.com/2008/11/03/lewis-clark-discover-google-maps-doh/

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

WOW, Matapam, I never thought of using Google earth for background on a scene!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Sarah,

You realise if you could market a way to sit at your computer and lose weight while typing, you make a million!

I find it amazing (in a good way) that after having concussion you could take up drawing. Have you talked to your doctors about this?

Amanda Green said...

Like Sarah, I write to music and, all too often, it is music the WIP demands and never, EVER anything I'd choose on my own. The project I'm currently editing before trying to find a home for it would only let me write to ABBA. Not just ABBA, but the soundtrack to Mama Mia. I never, ever want to hear any of those songs again. Russian Nights runs the gamut from Tchaikovsky to Russian rock and roll (don't go there. Please, for your own sanity, don't go there.)

I also use google earth for help in visualizing scenes. Unfortunately, it doesn't always help with the historicals. Still, it is better than nothing.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Rowena,

My doctor said "yeah, bumps on the head do weird stuff. You rewire all the connections." :)

And DST wanted Buddy Holly. I would NOT ask if I were you.

KylieQ said...

Definitely visual. In fact, I need absolute silence for the first draft although I've gradually trained myself to be able to rewrite with background noise (household noise, that is, not music in the study with me). Ditto Google Earth. Also tourism websites as they have lots of piccies of scenery.

(PS Rowena, I can't log into my google account at the moment so couldn't leave a comment on Orbit but congrats on handing in the three books - must be time for a very large glass of champagne!!)

KylieQ said...

Sorry, hit post too soon. I meant ROR, not Orbit. Trying to do too many things at once...

Kate said...

Music here. I devour related research books and google images or google earth for any visuals I might need, but the actual writing, it's music.

And like Amanda and Sarah, often specific music. Sometimes the book futzes around for a while before I know what the music is, other times it's a case of *click*.

Impaler - and anything else I write involving Vlad Tepes insists on Within Temptation. Any of their songs, but the darker ones are best. The space opera I'm working on likes the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks. I've yet to find out what the steampunky thing that's just started will need, but I suspect it will hit me sooner or later.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Amanda, I saw the Mama Mia movie and wanted to go live there. It was so beautiful.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL, Kylie, I was madly scrambling to think why my books would be mentioned on the Orbit blog.

Yes, glad to have them handed in. I'm now deeply steeped in my Shallow Sea series. When it goes right, it is so good.

Better than chocolate? Not sure.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Kate, I interviewed Sean Williams and he is a music person too.

I think if I did a survey, we'd find writer who favour music outnumber visual writers.

I'm not sure if it would be the same for the general population. So much of our society is visual oriented, you'd think visual would be more important.

But if it was, we'd live in beautifully designed cities and everything from the cups we use to the clothes we wear would be visually rich. Instead we are stuck with bill boards and graffiti!

Kate said...

Rowena,

I think the reason music works for a lot of writers is that it can bypass the intellectual part of our mind and head straight for the emotions. There is music that I can NOT listen to without getting teary.

For books that have an overwhelming mood or tone, music is a short-cut to that mood. In Vlad's case, dark and lyrical, but with ahem bite. I know for a fact that Amanda's book that wanted ABBA is very light-hearted, almost bubble-gum-y in mood.

For me, it's not that surprising music is involved - when I was deciding what the day job would be (yeah, when I was choosing university courses I knew writing was the real goal but I needed something I could do and enjoy to actally live on) it was a choice between some form of computer scientist, musician, and geologist. I was almost a professional level trombonist then. Sadly, I'm now a very out of practice trombonist. ;-)

Dave Freer said...

I'm a dead silence interrupted by music - at the moment, 'Caravans' (and it's A NAVAL book)

Google earth... I even measure distances my characters move.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I just never had thought of google earth. Very useful, since my notes on Gascony seem to have vanished!

KylieQ said...

Dave, there is a great website for calculating distances. It lets you select the mode of transport (ie on foot, on horseback, by boat) and then calculates how long it would take to travel. I know I've got the address somewhere but just can't put my hands on it right now. If anyone is interested in it, I'll retrieve it from my "filing" system.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Kylie,

If you don't give me the website, I shall sing. I spent the afternoon trying to figure out how far a carriage would get from Paris towards Gascony in about four hours. Failed.

Don't.make.me.come.out.there.and.sing.

KylieQ said...

Spare me, Sarah! I'll do some digging. I know it's here somewhere...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Kylie..........

Oh sole mio! La donna est mobile qual piuma al vento Muda d'acento e di pensiere!

La la la la la Et de pensiere!

matapam said...

Aiii!

I can't find a chart, but this tidbit might help for a Reality Check:

"...contract for this service was given to the Butterfield Overland Mail operation that traveled through Texas where poor weather was less of a factor. It usually took less than 25 days to travel from St. Louis to San Francisco."

As the crow flies, roughly averaging a hundred miles a day. I don't know how often they changed horses, I would assume it was easier to do so frequently in Europe than the Western US pre-1900.

KylieQ said...

Sarah - ??? I know English and a little classical Greek so I have no idea what you said :) I'm assuming though you're asking if I've dropped off the face of the earth. Sorry about the delay - I was waiting on someone else to get back to me as I couldn't find the details. I've emailed them through to you about 20 minutes ago.