A Great Story Is Music to the Eyes

by Eldred “Bob” Bird

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with Bramwell Tovey

One of my enthusiasms outside of composing is music. I do not just enjoy the music itself, but likewise the innovative process and the tools that go into making it. I wound up spending a lot time at the Musical Instrument Museum here in Phoenix that I now volunteer there. Seeing all the remarkable methods music is produced worldwide got me considering the parallels between an exceptional musical plan and exceptional writing. A well composed book is music to the eyes.

Structure Your Orchestra

Like orchestral composers, writers have a lot of instruments at their disposal. In addition to different characters with diverse voices, we likewise get in touch with things like place, weather condition, historical timeframe, and a host of other elements to breathe life into a narrative. Lets strike up the band and see how we can utilize these instruments to construct our stories.


Sentence lengths and punctuation marks perform the same function. The roll of a snare drum develops drama in the very same method fast, brief sentences do, while the crash of the cymbals includes the exclamation point!

Simply like a musical arrangement every story requires a foundation to develop on. I compare this to the percussion area in a band. Percussion sets the pace of the music and stresses it, adding emphasis to specific moments and providing breathing space when required.

Brass and Strings

The brass and string sections paint the mood and bring color to the music. I see the physical environment, such as weather and settings, in this section of the orchestra.

Similarly, we can utilize the world around our characters to reveal whats going on within them. All of us understand weather can set the mood for a scene, however how your characters communicate with their environment likewise gives the readers clues to what drives them. One character might keep his hat, hunch over, and trek through a rainstorm, while another may sing and dance, stomping in puddles like child at play.


Secondary characters perform the very same function. They give your primary character somebody to bounce things off. It may be a discussion designed to present needed details or they might take the opposite side of an argument and make complex things. Often secondary characters are gotten in touch with to take the lead and fill the space when the primary character isnt present or is otherwise unable.

The woodwinds can play the primary melody in a movement, but frequently are called upon to play a counterpoint, filling areas and including to the total mix. They can bring attention to particular information by matching or contrasting the other instruments as they play their parts.

The Soloists

The soloists in our stories are the main protagonists and villains. In some cases they play in harmony, other times they combat for the spotlight, creating conflict and tension. In the end, just one can be the star. Whether the beast our main character battles is external or internal, its that dispute that drives the story to its crescendo.

That brings us to the musicians– the featured players. The whole orchestra might play the music, but the spotlight shines on these gifted, creative, and in some cases unexpected instrumentalists.

The Conductor

Again, your first-person conductor could be the music critic sitting in the wings watching the program and giving us the play by play as the concert unfolds. Think about the Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes was clearly the soloist and Watson, the press reporter.

They point information out to the reader and lead them through the story, scene by scene. When we compose in the first individual, the conductor is typically the musicians, your main character.

The whole arrangement is combined by the conductor, the one standing between the players and the audience, signifying each movement to the group. While we, the authors, are the ones writing the music, its the conductor that stresses particular elements of the score and pulls the musicians back on others.

The Last Chair

Simply when things are rolling along efficiently, he drops a beat and plays one of his sour notes, sending out everything sideways. Whenever things are going a little too well for your musician, he throws in another one of those sour notes.

Theres always that one artist who was the last one to make the cut. They attempt their finest however in some cases get a little out of tune and out of time. Everyone else in the orchestra has a hard time to determine how to collaborate to recuperate from his missed out on beats and sour notes and bring ball game back into balance.

Some Final Thoughts

We listen to the same design music from the same artists over and over once again. The same thing can take place with our writing.

By carefully integrating all these elements in simply the best mix, we can go from singing the same old song with a slightly different tune, to creating stunning symphonies. Maybe one of us will end up composing the next huge hit.

Do you listen to music while composing? Are there certain songs you utilize to assist develop the ideal state of mind for a scene?

* * * * * *

About Eldred

Eldred Bird composes contemporary fiction, brief stories, and personal essays. He has actually invested a terrific offer of time exploring the deserts, forests, and deep canyons inside his house state of Arizona. His James McCarthy experiences, Killing Karma, Catching Karma, and Cold Karma, show this love of the Grand Canyon State even as his character solves mysteries in the middle of risk. Eldred explores the borders of brief fiction in his stories, The Waking Room, Treble in Paradise: A Tale of Sax and Violins, and The Smell of Fear.

When hes not composing, Eldred hangs around cycling, treking and juggling (yes, managing … bowling balls and 21-inch knives). His passion for photography permits him to tape-record his travels. He can be found on Twitter or Facebook, or at his website.

The top image is certified under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


One of my enthusiasms outside of composing is music. One character might hold onto his hat, inkling over, and trek through a downpour, while another may sing and dance, stomping in puddles like child at play.

Theres always that one musician who was the last one to make the cut. Just when things are rolling along smoothly, he drops a beat and plays one of his sour notes, sending whatever sideways. Whenever things are going a little too well for your musician, he tosses in another one of those sour notes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *