Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Written Connection With Readers . . .

You all know when you're watching a good film, when your eyes are glued, your mind is switched off and you're in that film. You see that character's dilemma and you're routing for them, you're on the edge of your seat, and you feel like screaming at them to not go up stairs! (And they always do and they always get murdered). Or with other genres, when you end up crying and feeling that character's loss.

Either way you become connected with that character; you feel their emotions and you experience them. (I confess when I watched 'PS: I love you' with Gerrard Butler, I was blubbering from the word go till it ended - and then the next day at work I could still feel myself welling up.)

Emotion is a very powerful thing, and it's easy to portray that in films by their chosen scores and soundtracks. Music in films, although not often noted when watching, plays a huge part. Have you ever tried watching a horror film with the sound turned off? Yeah, it rates a zero on the Scare-ometre. Music builds tension, humour, romance - or just the setting in general. It's a powerful, evocative tool.

So how can you add that sort of emotional feeling in writing when you have no scores to enhance it?

It's not always easy, but it's essential. For a reader, as you're all probably aware, to become as engrossed in a book as you get in a good film, you need to connect with the character; you need to see their dilemma, to feel their trauma and their emotion. You need to connect with that emotion; you need to recognise it and feel it in order to be transported from the couch you're sitting on to the world within the book.

Reading the right words can work just as well as any score, but it's finding the right words to use. For this, many writers call upon past experiences, to drudge up emotions and experiences that they can use and write about in hopes of creating something that the reader can connect with. This is great - Write What You Know, so they say. But what if you're protagonist is running down a street, pursued by a assassin with a blade that has their name on it? They need to hide! They need to shake their pursuer off but they don't know how. Their mind is a frantic mess and they need to think, but they can't concentrate. If the writer, like me, has lived a placid, almost uneventful life, how are you going to know what emotions to drudge up? We can only guess.

Or Cheat.

As some of you may know, I listen to a lot of music when I write. I have a huge eclectic collection from Heavy Metal to Classic. Each helps me to enhance an emotion when I need it, from quick, up-beat tunes for dramatic, heart pounding moments, to those softer tones for the quiet, solemn times. For me, it works. It allows me to switch on different emotions when I need them, and I find this helps in writing. I also hope that what I churn out connects with the reader in such a way that they don't want to return to the couch they're sitting on. Only time will tell.

And film scores are fantastic for this. Each piece has been composed for a specific scene, to enhance specific emotions, and to back up what I'm talking about watch this clip (click on the picture). It's the very last scene from 'The Da Vinci Code' (yes, I actually liked this film) It's not a very dramatic scene, in fact, turn the sound down and it's as boring as they come, but with the score . . . it transforms it into an extremely powerful and emotional scene.

Hans Zimmer is a great composer. He's done the Scores for hundreds of big films, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Caribbean, Last of the Mohicans, Batman Begins, to name just a few, and I've recently tuned into his talent as way of honing mine.

Hope this rant helps in any way.

1 comment:

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean was MADE by its music. Can you imagine how good it would have been without that music?

    Sometimes songs themselves tell a story too, and I think those are the best ones.