The Music in Writing
Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me here on your blog. I don’t write many posts these days, but I wanted to share a recent incident and where it took me—and info about my latest novel published this August. Inviting me to post here on your blog is wonderful!

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell’s mystery novels include—PSWA award winners Uncle Si’s Secret and Lies of Convenience (also a Hollywood Book Festival Honorable Mention), Death of a Perfect Man, and Reticence of Ravens (a finalist for the Eric Hoffer 2011 fiction Prize, the da Vinci Eye for cover art, and the Montaigne Medal for most thought provoking book). Counsel of Ravens (a London Book Festival Honorary Mention and LA Book Festival Runner-Up) is her first sequel, and was a continuation of Hubert Champion’s Mojave saga. Rhodes—The Movie-Maker is her second sequel, and the continuation of Leiv Rhodes’s saga begun in Rhodes—The Mojave-Stone.

She continues to be inspired by historic Route 66, and this her second Rhodes novel, reflects that continuing fascination. Madeline lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave High Desert near the internationally revered Route 66.

As Marilyn knows, I live in a little town on Route 66 between Barstow and Las Vegas. Where I usually grocery shop is in the town of Barstow, California, and often in the Vons (Safeway). Occasionally, I meet “Roadies” and tour bus visitors in that store because of its location on Route 66. Many times I’m wearing a Route 66 T-shirt; and recently, people on two separate occasions have stopped me to talk. (alas, not because they recognize me as a writer, but because of the T-shirt.) Of course I introduce myself as a writer and give them a bookmark. The most recent gentleman who stopped me, asked me if my books would “sing to him?” Boy did he catch me by surprise! He’d touched on a major writing goal of mine. Following is an edited re-posting of mine on the topic.

I think lyricism is more complicated than my following explanation—but it’s the best I can do so far. It’s the juxtaposition of short sentences, long sentences, paragraph breaks, even scene breaks that carry our minds forward. Sing to our minds. Pleasant to the earreading wise. It’s the mechanics, (or is it the art?), of intermixing heavy and tedious words or sentences with the short and snappy. For me, it’s also a kind of a coaxing music that moves me along in the story. It’s that little “something” that makes you want to keep reading, keep listening to the author’s song. Regardless of whether a good or bad story.

And for me, it’s often very hard to do—but when it’s there in other’s writings—easy to hear. In the final edits I do make a lot of changes to try to make my writing “sing.” Especially since I’m habitually fond of writing long and tedious sentences. Not sure if “literary lyricism” is a craft-of-writing kind of thing that can be learned, or a talent you either have or don’t. Sure hope it’s at least an improvable skill.

Indeed, this may be something only I “hear.” A concept only important to me. Though, the gentleman’s question in Vons makes me think I’m not alone in looking for illusive lyricism. And there are enough hurdles and “things” to think about already in writingI certainly don’t want to build artificial new ones. But bringing music to/in writing and reading is something to think aboutespecially for those of you who can tell C from D, and a flat from a sharp!

Here’ my latest offering that hopefully will “sing” to some…

Back book-cover synopsis: Sometimes surprising and breathtaking happenings occur in the desert.
For example—heavy spring rains bring back to life a dry windblown-riverbed producing a mass of water powerful enough to snatch and carry away everything in its path.
Less dramatic, but no less spectacular—lighter spring rains turn broad expanses of Mojave Desert flatlands into multicolored and picture-perfect wildflower carpets.
And even the human hand—admittedly, via time-controlled irrigation boom operations, performs magical dust-to-beauty happenings. Indeed, with the flip of a well-switch, swatches of desert are brought alive with what seems like a flood of purple-to-blue flowering alfalfa.
But most amazingly—if you look widely, without preconception, in the right place, and at the appropriate point in time, you will find people who were swept up in the flood of human events, and did the most unexpected and exceptional things.
One such flood of human events plays out in The Movie-Maker. This tale is not a murder mystery, though there are in fact several murders—but there is little-to-no mystery surrounding who the perpetrators are. Neither is this tale meant to be a literary treatise addressing age-old philosophical questions or current day conundrums. This tale’s primary goal is fun and escapism. Nor is The Movie-Maker a police procedural, though happenings do occur that require police activities. Nor is this tale an action drama even though dramatic actions do unfold. A romance? Not exactly, though several love stories—past and present—flavor happenings and decisions.
Rhodes—The Movie-Maker is simply one of many human event stories playing themselves out in the Mojave Desert along historic Route 66.

Barnes and Noble link:

[i] A previous lady in Vons asked me about where I get my ideas which led to another post on Writers in Residence
[ii] Here’s a quickie little back-storyI’m tone-deaf and monotone when it comes to musical hearing and singing songs. The short synopsis of a long younger-life story is: in grammar school I was instructed to just move my lips during mass hymns, and in high school I was excused from Gee-Club (not a small concession for the time and environment) So, you get the picture—music is not my forte. But lyricism in writing is something I can hear. And feel.


M.M. Gornell said…
Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me! I love "hearing" good writing, and so nice to talk about. Away from home and my computer most of the morning and afternoon, but will be checking in for comments later today. Thank you everyone who takes the time to stop by! Much appreciated.
Maggie King said…
When I'm editing my final draft, I read it aloud and often hear a rhythm to my words. My husband is a songwriter and I like to think that he inspires me with a musical quality. Good post, Madeline.
jrlindermuth said…
Since storytelling was originally a vocal art, I think it's logical readers might (consciously or unconsciously) seek such lyricism in the written word. For some with a poetic bent it's probably easier to achieve. I agree with Maggie's comment--reading aloud might tell if we've achieved it. Enjoyed your topic, Madeline.
M.M. Gornell said…
Maggie, thank you for stopping by, and that is very, very neat your husband is a songwriter. Perfect for inspiration and maybe a sounding board for your written word!
M.M. Gornell said…
Thanks, John, for stopping by and glad you enjoyed. Yes, I agree, if you're poetically or musically incline, might be easier to achieve lyricism. I find it an interesting topic, and a goal to aim for.
Maggie King said…
Walter Moseley recommends taking a course in poetry writing. Not necessarily to become a poet but to learn to write concisely and, yes, musically!
GBPool said…
Whether it's a novel, short story, or a movie, we need those highs and lows, those rhythms that undulate, fast and slow, to carry the characters and the story along. And your books do just that. You paint the scenery with beautiful colors and the reader can almost hear the music in the background that moves the story along. And your latest book, Rhodes-The Movie Maker, has it all. The ending... so good, so clever, so memorable, so unexpected... Can you tell I loved it? I did. Sheer music.
M.M. Gornell said…
Oh Gayle, my face is warm with happiness, and my literary heart pounding away. It really, really, does give me great pleasure when I hear a reader enjoyed my writing/story, especially when the comment comes from you who I respect very, very much--now it's your turn to blush! (smile) Thank you for stopping by, fellow Writer In Residence, especially since you've "heard" a variation of this post before...
Thonie Hevron said…
A fascinating concept: lyricism in prose. I confess to being tone-deaf but I can follow rhythm. Maggie King's comment was right-on. Now, I'll have an ear for this when I read my manuscript aloud.
Thanks, Maddie!
M.M. Gornell said…
Thanks for stopping by, Thonie! Yes,reading your manuscript out-loud is good on multiple levels, I think. Screw-ups seem to pop out at me easier! I also listen to audio books on Kindle when I'm falling off to sleep at night, and the voice actors really due a good job with writing that is lyrical--I can hear it even better.
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