Friday, September 28, 2012

Playing Around: To Hear or Not to Hear

The object of this lesson is to play around with the sound in one of your pieces.  Several ideas jump out at me immediately:
  • Turn the sound off.  Look at a picture or imagine a scene in your mind.  Write it all with no dialogue--no allusion to the spoken word or other noises--whatsoever.  Write it like a silent movie without the captions.
  • Turn the dialogue off.  Use the ambient sound to tell a story.  Is it an argument?  Are dogs barking, children screaming, feet stomping, pans clanking?  Is someone falling to sleep?  Do we hear a lullaby, gentle rustling, even breathing?  What can the other sounds tell us?
  • Use only the dialogue.  Write an entire piece with dialogue only.  Allude to action, but don't tell us exactly what is happening.  Let us guess (kind of what a mother does every time she closes the bathroom door).
  • Use a song.  Write a piece to the general theme of a piece of music.  You could rewrite the lyrics to a well known song or simply write actions or a story line that would fit into the theme of "Jaws" of "Into the Hall of the Mountain King" from the Peer Gynt Suite.  It doesn't matter, but let the sound propel your telling and not the other way around.
  • Use a sound device.  Allow yourself to play with a literary convention.  Maybe you'd like to make a stab at a poem, tell a story in sonnet (or limerick!) form.  Maybe you don't want to be that formal, but you do want to work on employing a rhythm to your sentences.  Maybe you'd just like a little alliteration (beginning words with the same consonant sound) or consonance (just using a lot of the same consonant sound but not necessarily at the beginning--"tatters of litter in bitter cold streets" has lots of ts but not necessarily at the beginnings of the words).
You can apply these techniques to any topic, one that you've been planning to write or one that has just popped into your head.

But have fun with it!  Play with the words and let them delight you.  Your joy will likely tickle us as well.

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