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Songwriters and poets of SE, I need your help.

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Songwriters and poets of SE, I need your help.

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  • #135768
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    Heya, y’all!

    I recently read “the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and I loved how the story was sprinkled with songs. It really helped flesh out the characters. I really like it when books include pieces of songs, and I was thinking about adding some to my current WIP.

    I have one character who is a musician/singer, and she sings in several scenes. In my first draft, I just have the songs loosely described and moved on without thinking about it any more.

    Now, the issue is that I have zero experience with writing poetry or songs. (Or singing for that matter XD)

    Has anyone attempted anything like this? What do y’all think of songs in books? What are some things I should consider? How do I get started, does anyone have tips?

    As I said before, it’s still a very loose idea, but I wanted to hear y’all’s opinions on it. Thanks for reading!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #135823

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I haven’t really tried adding poems or songs to my stories, but I do write both, so let me see if I can help at all. 🙂

    First things first, I agree that songs included in stories are really cool, and when I was reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I’d make up a little tune in my head for each song. So yes, I think it’s a cool idea.

    I think the first thing I’d consider is this: does the song add to the story? Putting songs in is fine, but it makes it special when the song actually has something to do with where the story is at or where it’s going. Sometimes you can even foreshadow with songs, or make so a reader finds out what happened previously in the story through songs. I saw that happen quite a few times in The Ballad. (I’ll just call it that to shorten it.) It wasn’t just some meaningless song that the author put in to make the story more unique or longer, it actually added to the story itself. So I’d first of all make sure that the songs you add would add more depth to the story. Adding a song that doesn’t have anything particular to do with it could still be okay, but it wouldn’t be the same.

    Second, you have to remember that when you have a character write (or sing) a song in your story, the song has to fit with their personality. Do you know what I mean? Like the songs that Lucy Gray sand in The Ballad fit with her personality and what she’d gone through and was going through at the time of the song. So the song should fit with the character and their personality/what their going through.

    I’m not really sure how to help with the actual writing the songs/poems part though. The only thing I can think of that would help get you started would simply be start writing! Think of a topic that you want a song/poem about and then try to write something out that fits with the theme. It may be rather difficult at first, but if you keep trying, it will almost certainly get better, even if it takes a while. And even if you’re not experienced in singing or writing music, you don’t really need to have an actual tune for the song, or at least nothing elaborate. The people reading won’t know what it sounds like anyway, so you really only need to be able to add some description of the general tune or style, or some such thing. It may be easier trying to write it with music, but if the tune isn’t coming and the words are, I wouldn’t bother with getting a perfect tune to go with it. If you want it but can’t get it quite how you want it, you can always go back and write it later or change it.

    And one last thing that goes with the practicing part. Instead of writing out your songs/poems and not being able to decide it you think they’d fit with the story or are “good enough”, you could try giving them to a friend and seeing what they think. Even if they’re not a writer, they may be able to give you some advice on the song itself and if the theme is showing through.

    Hope that helped!

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #135827
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @olivia

    Thanks for the advice, Olivia! That does help and gives me several things to think about!

    First things first, I agree that songs included in stories are really cool, and when I was reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I’d make up a little tune in my head for each song. So yes, I think it’s a cool idea.

    Same! I sat reading the lyrics and humming them to myself XD I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but Maiah Wynne wrote some fantastic arrangements for the songs. They’re far better than whatever I imagined and her voice is perfect for Lucy Gray. You can find her on YouTube!

    So I’d first of all make sure that the songs you add would add more depth to the story. Adding a song that doesn’t have anything particular to do with it could still be okay, but it wouldn’t be the same.

    That’s such a cool idea! I think that’ll actually make it easier since it gives me some subjects to work with. I think it could maybe also work for worldbuilding since, in this context, songs are often used to remember history. That sparks all sorts of ideas!

    Second, you have to remember that when you have a character write (or sing) a song in your story, the song has to fit with their personality.

    Ooh, that’s such a good point! I did notice that! I think it was especially interesting that our first introduction to Lucy was through her song “Nothing you can take from me” which tells you a lot about her character! I totally have to remember that!

    I’m not really sure how to help with the actual writing the songs/poems part though. The only thing I can think of that would help get you started would simply be start writing!

    Ooh, noo, is there no other way? That’s the scary bit! XD You are right though! I’m going to do my best and write a couple of terrible drafts XD

    I did have another question. The scene I’m thinking of is actually the character giving a performance, so it’ll involve several songs in a single chapter. Of course, I won’t write all of them because a. I don’t have the patience and b. I don’t think my readers will have that much patience XD

    So, do you think I should only write one full song or small sections from several? On the one hand, I think it would be more interesting to have several different songs with different messages, on the other, I don’t know if it would be jarring to only have a part of a song. (Say, the chorus) I’d love to hear your opinion on that!

    Anyway, thank you so much for your advice! It’s really helpful and you raised some points I hadn’t even thought of! Thank you! <3

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #135831

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Awesome! I’m glad to have been of service. 🙂

    Oh cool, I might look her up! Sounds interesting.

    Aww, good! I’ve read quite a few books where people tell the stories of previous history through songs and it’s really cool, so that’s a good idea. Glad you have ideas!

    Yes! I made these points up as I was trying to think of advice to give you, but I really think that one is a good one to remember and put into practice. I’m sure sometimes it would be hard to get it to perfectly match with the characters and their personalities, but I don’t think it has to be perfect for them, just close enough that it makes sense why they’d be singing it.

    Haha, don’t stress about writing the songs though! Not to say don’t do it, but meaning don’t be super hard on yourself. It may not always be fun, but if you start, you can’t expect yourself to be amazing from the start. I know we want to be good right away, but it’s not realistic to expect that from ourselves, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

    That’s some good thinking about not writing each song out fully. Even if the songs were really good, that could definitely get to be too much and could wear on the readers. So does your main character or someone important to the story sing in the performance? If so, I almost think it’d be cool to have their song fully written out (unless it’s really long) so that the reader gets more of a taste of their personality through it. And then you could add snippets of a few others songs from different people if you like, but I wouldn’t do snippets from too many, since that could sorta long. But from a few would be interesting.

    You are so welcome! I’m just glad I could help. 🙂

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #135847
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @olivia

    Oh cool, I might look her up! Sounds interesting.

    Totally! She also performed the songs Lucy played with the Covey, and she actually got all the instruments together for it. It sounds amazing and she really captured Lucy’s personality. My favorites are “Crawling to you” (It’s so catchy XD), “The Old Therebefore”, and “Pure as the Driven Snow” (That one almost makes me cry every time I hear it. You know why XD Snow did not deserve her)

    Aww, good! I’ve read quite a few books where people tell the stories of previous history through songs and it’s really cool, so that’s a good idea. Glad you have ideas!

    I haven’t seen it that often, but I can see how it would work pretty well. And it gives me the added excuse that the songs were passed on through dozens of people in a game of Telephone that lasted generations. So, if it doesn’t make sense, I have an excuse XD

    Haha, don’t stress about writing the songs though! Not to say don’t do it, but meaning don’t be super hard on yourself. It may not always be fun, but if you start, you can’t expect yourself to be amazing from the start. I know we want to be good right away, but it’s not realistic to expect that from ourselves, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

    Aww, thanks for the encouragement! That does make me feel a bit better about it 😉

    So does your main character or someone important to the story sing in the performance? If so, I almost think it’d be cool to have their song fully written out (unless it’s really long) so that the reader gets more of a taste of their personality through it. And then you could add snippets of a few others songs from different people if you like, but I wouldn’t do snippets from too many, since that could sorta long. But from a few would be interesting.

    The basic scenario is that a side character is going into enemy territory to pass along a message, under the ruse of being a traveling musician. (That chapter is from her POV though.) So, I might write a song that has a kind of double meaning/encoded message. I think that might be fun ;). So, I think I may write that one in full, and just a couple of verses for one or two of the others.

    Thanks again, it’s really helped me work this out! 🙂

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Rose.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #135894

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I’ll try to remember to look those up tomorrow. He definitely did not! I was so mad at him at the end of the book. I don’t care if he went through a lot in life and simply needed some counselling, what he did just made me mad, even though I knew where he was going to end up since I’d read the Hunger Games before.

    Haha, yes, telephone is a good excuse for a song that didn’t work out perfectly. 😉 But I don’t think it’ll be a big problem. You’ll do great when you get started! And I can always help if you need me!

    Aww, good! I’m glad that made you feel better. 🙂

    Oh, that sounds really interesting! I love the idea of her singing a “normal” song, when really it’s a secret message. Songs can have so much meaning, and often hidden unless you really dig. As we saw in The Ballad often enough. Haha

    Good! I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to help, but I decided to at least give it a try.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #135901
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    I’ll try to remember to look those up tomorrow. He definitely did not! I was so mad at him at the end of the book. I don’t care if he went through a lot in life and simply needed some counselling, what he did just made me mad, even though I knew where he was going to end up since I’d read the Hunger Games before.

    Yes!! In the beginning, it was like “Okay, his circumstances influenced him negatively, but he does have some good in him.” And I was kind of sympathizing with him although I knew where he’d end up.

    And then, after that awful thing he did at the end, I was so furious. He deserved every terrible thing and more and I’ve never hated a character more. I’m actually really glad she didn’t try to excuse him or give him a sympathetic backstory. He didn’t deserve it, he’s the worst person and I despise him, even more than I did before I read the Ballad.

    I was really impressed with the book though! It gave a lot of backstories and expanded on the themes in the first one while also covering some new subjects. The use of foils was excellent. 

    Oh, a cool thing I noticed! *SPOILERS, for anyone else reading this*

    You know in the Ballad, they often say “It’s not over until the Mockingjay sings” and we do get an explanation for where that proverb comes from, with the hangings. But can you imagine Snow’s feelings when he saw the propaganda clip of Katniss singing Lucy’s song!? A singing Mockingjay. And also at the end, when the rebellion is winding down, remember when Katniss is awaiting her trial, she sings in the hotel room. It’s over and the Mockingjay sings. I thought that was extremely cool.

    Haha, yes, telephone is a good excuse for a song that didn’t work out perfectly.  But I don’t think it’ll be a big problem. You’ll do great when you get started! And I can always help if you need me!

    Aww, thank you, I appreciate it!

    Oh, that sounds really interesting! I love the idea of her singing a “normal” song, when really it’s a secret message. Songs can have so much meaning, and often hidden unless you really dig. As we saw in The Ballad often enough. Haha

    Totally! It’ll be so much fun to write! I actually already have an idea of how to encode it…

    Also, a thing I noticed is that Suzanne Collins doesn’t give you the whole song at once, she interrupts herself often to give you the reaction of the crowd or the POV character’s thoughts. It’s cool because it keeps it from being a long, bland piece of nothing happening.

    Good! I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to help, but I decided to at least give it a try.

    You did, so much! Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Rose.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136114

    Ya, same with me. In the beginning I thought he was okay, but wasn’t sure how he could go from being pretty nice (sometimes) to what he is in the Hunger Games, so I was a little wary of him even though I sorta wanted to like him. But it’s true that I really didn’t like him even more at the end. I listened to the songs and they are cool! 🙂 I like the tunes she puts with the words.

    Oh, I never thought of that! That would be weird for him. What I do think woulda been cool would have been if Lucy would have been in the Hunger Games in District 13 and Katniss would have met her. Then the two could have gotten talking about Snow, though Katniss wouldn’t know their background and you wouldn’t either until you read the books. But it is cool how you meet Tigris in the books, though just for a bit. (in The Hunger Games, I mean.)

    🙂

    Good, glad you’re getting inspiration already. 🙂 It’s always so handy. Haha. Ya, that’s something I noticed too. Maybe you could try that if you liked the results.

    Aww, I’m glad. No problem!

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #136127
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @olivia

    Ya, same with me. In the beginning I thought he was okay, but wasn’t sure how he could go from being pretty nice (sometimes) to what he is in the Hunger Games, so I was a little wary of him even though I sorta wanted to like him. But it’s true that I really didn’t like him even more at the end. I listened to the songs and they are cool!  I like the tunes she puts with the words.

    I think the Ballad is better after you’ve read the Hunger Games because then you’re awaiting his spiral into evil with a kind of fascinated dread. After the first couple pages I was like “Oh no. I kinda sympathize with him! How dare I!” And at the end, it was just… Nope. Nopenopenope.  XD

    Yes! Her songs are awesome! I’m listening to them while I make fanart of Lucy Gray because her design was awesome! I know a description is really good if I need to draw it XD

    Oh, I never thought of that! That would be weird for him. What I do think woulda been cool would have been if Lucy would have been in the Hunger Games in District 13 and Katniss would have met her. Then the two could have gotten talking about Snow, though Katniss wouldn’t know their background and you wouldn’t either until you read the books. But it is cool how you meet Tigris in the books, though just for a bit. (in The Hunger Games, I mean.)

    I felt so sorry for Tigris! When I was reading the Ballad I was like “She’s Snow’s cousin?” and I loved her and I really want to know what happened between her and Snow!

    And I totally agree! I would have loved it if Lucy was in District 13! She would be… *Calculates* 81, so it’s technically possible! Wow, Snow was over 81 in the Hunger Games! I pictured him younger, like late sixties.

    Imagine if Lucy was at Snow’s execution! She might have been in 13, even if Katniss didn’t see her. Ooh, I like that idea!

    Do you think she died in the woods, or did she make it to District 13? I somehow think she might have died, but I don’t know. I think that’s best left unanswered. I wonder how she’d find it in 13…

    I also love the idea that Maude Ivory is Katniss’ grandmother or great-grandmother. It makes sense, and I think it works! How else would her dad know “the Hanging Tree” if it was banned?

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Rose.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136133
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Hi Rose,

    In my younger days I used to write more poetry and song lyrics, but have not done so in a very long time.  Every now and again I pick up my guitar and strum a few chords, but it is mostly to songs written by others.

    However, I did conceive of a story involving an elderly couple with a shared love of music from the 40s, 50s and mid-60s, living out their retirement years in an old apartment building in the Bronx, NY.  They are the landlords of the building, and the older gentlemen is the security guard and co-owner of the building along with his wife.  Both are retired Navy, serving in the WW2 era, but long since departed from active duty, although their secret security clearance is still high, due to an incident at sea they both witnessed bay in the late 40’s after the close of the war.  Both were intelligence officers. Both had Morse-code training and were specialist in encryption.  The incident had brought them together on the high seas aboard a carrier vessel, and during three critical days of heighten stress and national security they discovered their mutual love for big band music and each other.

    45 years later, something related to those fateful days, has silently moved in to their building, unaware of these two who were witness to its threat and nefarious plans to alter and subjugate the human race.

    As security and now owner of the building, the elderly couple’s eccentricities have endeared them to their tenants in the one and five unit building.  The elderly gentleman plays instrumental versions of his and his wife’s favorite golden oldies music over the building PA system, and they silently communicate to each other in this way, because they both are well-verse in the lyrics.

    When the enemy begins to bring others in and attempt to capture and trap the inhabitants of the building in their own apartments, the husband and wife realize that what was in the past didn’t stay there, and it would attempt to harm the building’s occupants as sure as it tried to turn the carrier ship’s crew against one another.

    Separated by several stories, with the older gentleman in the heavily camera’d control room, he must coordinate with his wife how to rescue the day tenants and get them past the three alien visitors and outside to a safe area without these alien creatures knowing.  Their communication system is worked out on the fly using the unspoken lyrics to the songs he chooses to play on the PA, as he watches everything through the bank of camera monitors, also employing some Morse-code knocks on the gas pipeline running throughout the building.
    These two tease each other through song, but also communicate their love and devotion to each other through this medium as well.  The name of that story is “Knock Three Times” from the old Tony Orlando song.

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136136

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Yup, so true! But though it definitely wasn’t my favourite book ever, it was okay.

    Oh, that’s cool! What form of art do you make fan art with? Like Drawing, painting, etc.

    I feel bad for Tigris too, but I guess we can only imagine what happened between them…

    Same! I thought of him as like seventies at the latest, but I guess not. Wasn’t the Hunger Games Katniss was in the 65 one?

    Oh, that is sorta cool that she coulda been in District 13, even though Katniss didn’t see her. I like that idea too. 😛 haha. But ya, in reality she probably would have died, especially if she was injured by Snow. After all, it’s a long way from District 12 to 13, especially for an injured person.

    What?!? Where did you come up with the idea that Maude Ivory was Katniss’s great grandma? I never heard that, but that would be really cool and make tons of sense.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #136181
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    That’s an interesting situation and plot! I like how they managed to get messages to each other, that’s really clever!


    @olivia

    Oh, that’s cool! What form of art do you make fan art with? Like Drawing, painting, etc.

    I draw digitally! I actually finished it today, and I’m quite happy with how it came out! It’s a drawing of her at the reaping because that was just such a cool moment and I loved the description of the rainbow dress.

    Same! I thought of him as like seventies at the latest, but I guess not. Wasn’t the Hunger Games Katniss was in the 65 one?

    Nope, she was in the 74th and 75th ones! So Snow was… Assuming he was 18 during the 10th Hunger games… (I think they mentioned that) he was about 83! Wow, that’s pretty old!

    Oh, that is sorta cool that she coulda been in District 13, even though Katniss didn’t see her. I like that idea too. haha. But ya, in reality she probably would have died, especially if she was injured by Snow. After all, it’s a long way from District 12 to 13, especially for an injured person.

    True! Actually, I do like that the author left her ending so open. It makes it far more intriguing than if we actually found out what happened to her but less devastating than if he’d actually killed her. Though… that would make a good ending too. Not that I need to hate him any more. XD

    What?!? Where did you come up with the idea that Maude Ivory was Katniss’s great grandma? I never heard that, but that would be really cool and make tons of sense.

    It’s been going around on social media, I saw it on Instagram and YouTube, I think. The original theory was that Lucy Gray was Katniss’ grandmother, but that would mean she came back to district 12, and she clearly stated she wouldn’t.

    It’s also stated that Maude Ivory remembers a song after hearing it only once, so she’d be the only one to remember The Hanging Tree so accurately. The Covey might have broken up after Lucy left, and even if they didn’t, they’d probably drift apart eventually.

    So Maude Ivory probably got married to someone from the Seam, which explains why Katniss can have the classic Seam look. There might even be another generation between her and Katniss’ father, but still, it makes sense that the songs got passed along.

    Both The Valley Song, Down in the Meadow, and The Hanging Tree are sung in the Hunger Games, and Katniss says she learned them from her father, who was an excellent singer. All three of those songs are sung by Lucy, which means Maude Ivory also knew them.

    Personally, I think it’s a really cool theory and I accept it as more or less canon! XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136619

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Oh, nice! That’s a cool form to make art in, and I like the scene you chose to draw of Lucy at the Reaping.

    Wow, that is really old. Guess he wasn’t ready to relinquish his hold on running the country yet though. 😉 Haha, I’m sure he wouldn’t ever have been until he died.

    Ya, the open-endedness of Lucy’s end is good.

    Okay, gotcha. That does make sense and it’s a cool thought. I wouldn’t have been able to come up with that myself, but I like it.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

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