As writers, we all have our processes. Some plot, some wing it, some do a combination of the two. I’m a wing it gal. I’ve never liked outlines, even way back in my school days. That hasn’t changed over the years. Because I don’t plot, and my characters can sometimes be uncooperative, I need to seek motivation/inspiration from outside sources when I’m stuck.
Music plays a huge role in that. I do a weekly segment on my blog called Music Monday. Some weeks I’ll showcase songs I might happen to like, but it started so I could talk about songs from my WIP’s playlist.
While I had a playlist for my first book, I didn’t start blogging about it until my second. The very first post was the song that inspired the title of that story, “Not Broken” by Skye. I came across the song by accident, but the lyrics, the tone, they both spoke to the overall idea I had for the story.
That song got me going, and I would listen to it throughout writing to help me remember what I was after, even as the playlist grew.
As I wrote NOT BROKEN, I struggled with Malcolm, my leading man. I had a terrible time trying to get a handle on his character. He was harder to nail down than my anti-hero/villain leading man from the first book. That really made me question myself. Like really.
So why did I have an issue? Well, Malcolm was your average guy. He worked, he video gamed, loved his family, and loved my leading lady. I worried, and worried that his only goal was proving his love to said leading lady. I stressed that he didn’t have enough.
She had stuff. She was dealing with being a single mom in the wake of the trauma from the first book. There was an entire healing process she needed to go through with family, and the budding relationship, and therapy, her plate was full.
Then I looked at Malcolm’s, and the scale was not balanced. The only thing he had to “overcome” was her. I stalled as I tried to figure out what to give him. I beat my head against the proverbial wall in frustration for him not seemingly being “well-rounded.” The problem was, anything I came up with and tried to add seemed forced. It was there for the sake of being there and not an organic part of the story or Malcolm.
Then I heard “Let Me Love You” by Ne-Yo. The title was exactly what Malcolm was asking of Calida. He only wanted her to let him love her. The lyrics, all about a man who wants to love a woman that’s been hurt and is jaded towards the idea of love and trust. IT. WAS. THEM. At least from his POV. I heard the song, listened to it on repeat as I do in the beginning, and let it sink in.
That song sort of gave me the “okay” for Malcolm to be who he was. He didn’t have some tragic backstory, Calida had enough for the two of them. He didn’t need to be a bad boy in need of saving or being reformed.
The song let me know it was okay for Malcolm’s main and really only goal was getting the girl, because that was no easy goal to accomplish. But don’t get me wrong, he still had growth and his own arc, even though it remained in connection to her. Malcolm, as well-meaning as he was, had his moments of cluelessness. Dating a woman that had been through an abusive relationship meant he had to rework his way of thinking and his actions, something he knew, but didn’t fully realize the weight of in the beginning.
Hearing that song, playing it on repeat during certain scenes, helped me build and shape Malcolm’s character. Would he have turned out the same way without it? Can’t say, but I do like the person he became because of it.
I know some writers need quiet to work. The idea of music is a distraction, but not for me. Music is one of the biggest sources of inspiration for my writing. It sets the mood, speaks to the story and/or the characters. When I’m having a seriously hard time with focus, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, choose the story playlist and I’ll produce words, usually in a larger chunk which always makes me feel good.
We writers put “blood, sweat, and tears” into our words. I add a dash of rhythm on top of that.
Until next time
Meka James is a writer of adult contemporary and erotic romance. A born and raised Georgia Peach, she still resides in the southern state with her hubby of 16 years and counting. Mom to four kids of the two-legged variety, she also has four fur-babies of the canine variety. Leo the turtle and Spade the snake rounds out her wacky household. When not writing or reading, Meka can be found playing The Sims 3, sometimes Sims 4, and making up fun stories to go with the pixelated people whose world she controls.