Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing a hit - whether it's a song or a script

I was in the pub last Friday and my friend's husband Philip, who's gotten a record company to buy some of his tracks, was talking about creating and mixing songs. And it struck me what a similarity there is between songs and movies.

He was talking about the process, how there is a structure to a song and there has to be a build-up in it to a compelling climax. Just like a movie - everything has to build in momentum towards the third Act.

There must be a hook that keeps the listener interested, like a motif. Great fims have plants and pay-offs that feel satisfying.

Songs you spend an hour working on are often better than ones you rewrite over and over again. I believe that scripts can get rewritten to death and that the freshness can often be forced out of them by too much attention.

And lastly but most importantly, songs can't be too wordy - and neither can scripts. You've only got a certain amount of room for words in either of them, and each word must count.

(Given the size of beer you were drinking, Phil, you probably don't remember saying half of this. But trust me, it was profound).

There was one other big similalarity I noticed. Songwriters, like scriptwriters, spend a lot of time in rooms by themselves. It's a solitary pursuit. And one that a lot of people wish they could give up! But you have to have a compulsion to write songs or scripts, otherwise the constant rejection and apparent hopelessness would beat you down, make you quit.

There has to be nothing else you want to do.

I went to a car boot sale and sold a load of crap this weekend. Now working on selling a large number of college books that for some inexplicable reason, I've hung onto since 2000. Will I ever read 18th century epistolary novels again? I hated them first time around, so I think not!

They're not coming with me to Hollywood :)

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