Not every author will want to write about music. For some though, it can be extremely important. This is especially so for an author who takes an interest in the musical arts.
Many would shy away from incorporating musical elements into a novel. The idea of writing musical scenes on a silent sheet of paper can make many shy away. It can be done, however, and it can work well.
Here are some tips to include music in a book.
Do Not Write About Music in a Book if it is Not Necessary
I do not mean for this to come across as discouraging. However, not every book needs to have a musical backbone. For many books, a musical element can prove to be excessive. That being said, if you are passionate about this you should certainly go for it. This warning is more for the writers who overthink every element of their story.
Understanding music is a heavy commitment for an author. In most cases I recommend music be a key part of your story if you chose to include it. If you are only considering it for an additional subplot or excessive world-building then it is not necessary.
On the other hand, if it plays a key role in your story and your plot I encourage you to go forward with it.
Get Familiar With Instruments and Terminology
Whatever types of music your story will feature, you should become quite familiar with the genre. Become aware of the instruments used, the sounds, and any popular terminology. This will all come in handy when you are describing the sounds.
Without much practice, describing music’s sound can be quite challenging. You can not quite write “la la la” and get the exact sound across. It would also be a bit extreme to include sheet music in the middle of the page. However, with well-written descriptive language, you can still describe the sound.
Look into how musicians describe the sound of music. This can give you some great ideas on how to describe tunes in your own story.
Write About the Emotions the Music Evokes
One thing about music is that it evokes powerful emotions in people. Describe how the music in your story makes the characters feel. Capture how it influences the tone of the story as a whole.
While it may be hard to express how exactly the music sounds you can express its impact on your story. Music is all about emotion and its impact on people. Be sure to incorporate that into your book.
Write Lyrics to Original Music
I have to emphasize original here. When you include lyrics for songs you run the risk of facing lawsuits or publishing copyrighted content. This is far from ideal. However, some original lyrics you came up with, especially for your story, could be a huge centerpiece for your book.
Songs are a lot like poetry. Even if your readers can not hear your lyrics they can still have a profound effect. Not too many books contain original lyrics either, so that can truly make your book stand out.
These lyrics can also reflect on plot points or even cause them. Be creative.
If you have an instrumental part of your song you might even include putting the sheet music in the back of the book. It would probably not fit well in the middle of a chapter but a section in the back of your book with some sheet music could be cool, especially when your book appeals to music enthusiasts.
Now by no means am I saying this is mandatory. Writing a song just to go along with your book is by no means mandatory. It is not common by any means. However, if you do write music it could work well to include song lyrics in a music-related book. This is especially so if the lyrics are somehow essential to the plot.
Write About Real Musicians and Songs
I already mentioned you can not quote another person’s song in your book unless you have permission. However, titles of songs are not off-limits. They will fit very well in a book centralized around music.
As for an artist’s likeness, you would be surprised how much freedom you have as a writer. It can be a bit technical, but in summary, all you have to do is not slander them and you should be okay. If you do decide to slander them simply make sure it is satire and you are also free to do what you wish.
Including these as elements of the plot or important roles in building up the setting can be interesting in a book with roots based on music. The author knows what certain musicians and artists sound like and the same goes for sounds. This can help submerge the reader in the story.
Including music as a key element of a book can be done. Sure it will not be the same as a musical, but that does not mean it cannot have a powerful and unique impact on the reader.
Portraying music can be more difficult in a novel for sure. However, if it is what you are passionate about it can certainly be worth it. Including music in a book can be a great idea if it is something you are passionate about. Hopefully, these tips help you portray musical scenes as best you can.