1. Smoke Z
    Offline

    Smoke Z Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    36

    Punctuation Singing character

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Smoke Z, Apr 9, 2014.

    I have a character that sings. How do I lay out the lyrics so that people actually stop to read them, or am I the only one that skips over songs? I'm just looking for if it's worth the effort to have pieces of songs there.
     
  2. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    I wrote all the music for my songs, an included it in the text. I'm sure 9 in 10 will just skip over it, but one of them will know something about music.

    I'm really writing for that guy.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    If you skip over songs, why do you expect readers to not skip over yours?
     
  4. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    He's asking if he's the only who skips over songs.

    The answer is no, I read the songs.
     
  5. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    He's also asking how he should write the lyrics so that people won't skip over them.

    The way I see it, there's really nothing special you can do to make the reader read the lyrics.
     
  6. Glen Snow
    Offline

    Glen Snow Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2014
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Write songs that people want to listen to, in their head.

    Honestly I skip boring songs, for instance I'm 80% sure there were typed out songs in the lord of the rings trilogy but I can't remember because they were boring. I would say take a page from Matrin's book. To me the songs from A song of Ice and Fire are entertaining and catchy I actually felt like I could sing The Last of the Giants or The Bear and the Maiden Fair or even Brothers of The Kingswood. Just my two cents.

    As for how to type them I believe the general practice, or rather the only way I've seen songs or poems in books is to center and italicize it within quotation marks.

    "Something like this,
    that draws the reader,
    to pay attention.
    It says this isn't,
    normal dialogue,
    or exposition."

     
  7. Smoke Z
    Offline

    Smoke Z Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    36
    Ah, that is almost exactly what makes me skip over and not pay attention. I was reading some of my stuff from three years ago and I encountered a song that I didn't remember because I hadn't listened to it since I stopped the story. It was only the refrain mixed in as part of the dialogue.

    I have a lot less quoting and lyrics as I rewrite, which I hope makes comments about her earworms less distracting. I'm planning a scene where a character's inner dialogue mentions being irritated by jazz but he finds the lyrics compelling. (It isn't jazz, but when I sing it it sounds like Tom's Diner. Awoken by H8_seed and Wooden Toaster.)

    I think I'm just going to skip pasteing in lyrics and put recommended listening in the author notes.
     
  8. Bjørnar Munkerud
    Offline

    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    140
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    I'd be very careful about including lyrics of any kind in a book. Your book probably has a logical plot structure that is at least most chronological and follows the same characters throughout. If you introduce something that has no bearing on any of that, such as a song (unless you cleverly intertwine the story of the song with the overall story of your book), it feels unnecessary to readers. They paid for and took the time to sit down and read one coherent story, the one that has the same title as the book and that's described in the blurb, not some songbook disguised as a novel or a messy cocktail of loads of unfinished stories the author happened to think of at roughtly the same time and wanted to publish. You should also always be wary of mixing any combination of different media as it may require present readers with things they are uninterested in or aren't "equipped", one way or another, to "decipher". A podcast that certainly puts out video content will probably have many of its listeners annoyed that they can't watch it on their iPod on their way to work in the morning, audience members at a stand-up comedy gig might dislike a comedian who suddenly spends a lot of his time showing them randomly selected funny pictures he's stumbled upon on the Internet instead of actually giving them the high-quality material and delivery he's known for, and in the same way a novelist will irritate those who dislike music, those who don't want to read aloud the words to get the most out of what they read and everyone who paid for the story and not the song lyrics and who hate having to stuff that has no significance to anything else, as mentioned above, or simply would love to hear the song rather than having to read it or attempt to sing it themselves (there is a vast difference between reading the lyrics of a song and listening to it, after all).

    To counter all this dismissiveness, however, I also want to point out that 1) a good song is a good song no matter where (or even how) you presented it (and as such you might have enough confidence in your songwriting abilities to include it), 2) the song may genuinely be relevant to the plot and understandable as such to the readers and the melody might be either mentioned or very straight-forward, 3) multimedia is fancible these days and if that's the route you're going for then, well, go for it, 4) music can be a great way to show the mood of a situation, including in literature, it could be a plot point (the underwater song from the Second Task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire comes to mind), or simply as a way to get that one song you write that one time published.

    The conclusion is that you shouldn't do it for filler
     
  9. Smoke Z
    Offline

    Smoke Z Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    36
    I get "paid" for my work by someone leaving a note, so that's not much of an issue. And the only way someone can read my story without being able to listen to the song is if they cached the pages before losing network access, they printed it out, or if they're reading it with a primitive e-reader that does html.

    Basically one of the characters suffers from earworms and likes to share the pain.

    By going the "recommended listening" route, I'm saving myself a lot of emailing and stress as well. Though those few lines would be covered under criticism and comment in addition to non-profit.
     
  10. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,778
    Likes Received:
    7,288
    Location:
    Scotland
    I've done this sort of thing myself. I think it works best if the lyrics are broken up into verses, perhaps with some action taking place as well. Here's a short passage from my novel where I do this. I don't know if it works all that well, but I think people do read the lyrics when presented in short bursts like this:

    Jessie hugged herself in sheer delight. Joe wasn’t a good fiddler—he was a brilliant one. The best she’d ever heard. A quick glance at her brother told her Rob felt the same. When the tune ended, Rob was so elated he let out a Rebel yell. Joe flushed, snatched a quick sip of coffee, then lifted his fiddle again. “Sally Ann...?” he suggested, and they were off again.

    Bud pulled his harmonica back out of his pocket and joined the tune. They played together for a while—Joe leading—then Rob taking over—then Bud—then Joe again. When they changed the tune to Darling Cory, Jessie joined in too, singing out in the strident, bare-mountain style she’d learned from Caroline Carver: First time I seen Darlin Cory; she was standin’ in at the door; shoes an’ stockins’ in her hand; little bare feet on the floor...

    Joe’s fiddle swooped in, wailing an edgy harmony high above her voice, finishing with a swift run of down-spiraling notes to echo the melody at the end of each verse. The incredible energy in his music drove Jessie to her feet: Go dig me a hole in the meadow; go dig me a hole in the groun’; go dig me a hole in the meadow; an’ I’ll lay Darlin Cory down —while the banjo ripped out a driving rhythm of its own. Jessie could not recall the last time she’d had so much fun.
     
    GingerCoffee and Catrin Lewis like this.
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    you MUST obtain permission to use lyrics that are still under copyright... and that can cost a small fortune...

    if you use lyrics of songs that are now in the public domain, or ones you write yourself, do not use italics or centering... they would be inserted as block indents, in normal font, arranged in the proper lines and chorus/verse breaks...

    if only a few words or a single line of the lyric is being sung/written, you can do it as dialog, letting readers know it's being sung, not spoken...
     
  12. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yay! Pickin' and grinnin'! I haven't thought of that song for years, but I remembered it as soon as I read it on your comment.

     
    jannert likes this.
  13. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    To each his own. I not only read and remembered the poems/songs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I set some of them to music.

    The key thing to remember (besides getting proper permission for anything that isn't your work or in the public domain, as has been said above), is to be sure your songs are worth reading and really help the story. Avoid self-indulgence.

    I quote some songs (all public domain) in my work in revision and I have to be sure to take this advice for myself.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,929
    Likes Received:
    5,463
    If you mean that you feel that you have a fair use right to use a few lines of copyrighted lyrics in a work of fiction, I strongly urge you to consult a lawyer, because you are almost certainly incorrect. I don't see criticism or comment being a legitimate defense in that situation, and lack of profit isn't either.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    using song lyrics in fiction is not covered by the fair use exception...

    as for what you think you're 'covered' by, cf is right... you need to consult a literary attorney, as i also believe you are incorrect in your assumption...
     

Share This Page