Tag Archives: writing process

Mystery Muzak.

Can anyone identify the title and composer of this music?

(The linked recording begins in the last 22 seconds of the piece. To listen to it the way it’s meant to be heard, start the recording at the 24 second mark, play through and immediately repeat.)

This piece is currently used as the “on hold” music for CVS/Pharmacy stores. Nobody seems to know who was the composer: not the fellow who posted the above recording at SoundCloud, and apparently the pharmacy’s corporate people are not sharing that information. The only suggested identification I’ve encountered refers to a brass band march piece, which this romantic piano solo emphatically is not. Rumor has it that the pharmacy company is considering scrapping it for something new.

An admirer of the piece uploaded this image of the basic notation:

Music to write books by.

To me, the romance and drama of the piece put it in the leitmotif category. I blogged about this kind of musical and literary treatment in Do You Write Leitmotifs?

I wrote most of Irish Firebrands while listening to music (sometimes just one piece, all day), and this one may become another of those inspirational pieces while I write The Passions of Patriots.




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When is a Story Arc not an Arc?

When it takes another shape!

Meander, Spiral, Explode, by Jane Alison

I’d have found a bit more value in Meander, Spiral, Explode had its author also detected variant patterns in some rather more time-tested fiction (just because a novel is old doesn’t mean it must needs have been written in Aristotelian fashion), but she limited her observations to authors of recent works unknown to me. I had suspected the existence of different story structures, and will be looking for the patterns from nature in everything new I read, as well as in re-reads of old favorites.

As the author of the book maintains, it’s not necessary for every story to take the simple, caret-shaped, Aristotelian dramatic pattern (which Aristotle used to describe stage plays, anyway). It’s probably okay for short fiction, but it may be a bad idea for novelists to attempt to force their stories into the classic arc shape – especially if they’re organic writers. In fact, if they write Literary Fiction (especially the kind with a cast of thousands), they would probably end up with this kind of pattern, which was an astronomical map based on how the night sky seems to behave, to the naked eye:

Cassini Apparent Astronomy, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1st ed., 1777

Read more about this kind of shape here.

The natural shapes of things.

The patterns of nature are what inspired Meander, Spiral, Explode. You can learn about natural patterns in this video, which is my absolute favorite science documentary:

The shape my storytelling takes:

I’m an organic writer (also known as a pantser), and Irish Firebrands, written with no advance plan or outline, exhibits a distinctly meandering path:

Read more about this shape here.

It also takes the shape of a heartbeat wave-form, which seems particularly apt, since it’s a love story.

Read more about this shape here.

What natural shape does your fiction take?

Please tell us about it in the comment box!







Fractal branching pattern

Simple branching pattern

Double helix

Single helix

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Another Author’s Insight: Frances Richard.

Stress is not only a fact of engineering, but a property of language; punctuation is a system for designating in writing the critical points were emphasis—stress—is to be laid. “Point” and “punctuation,” furthermore, are etymologically related, both deriving from the Latin pungere, to prick or pierce. DESTRUCTIONAL PUNCTUATION is therefore not as contrary as it seems. Holes made by piercing a built fabric and dots or dashes laid down to punctuate a text perform analogous functions, creating order by introducing spaces. Thus inflected, the building becomes articulate, legible. As such, although it has been destroyed, it WORKS. It performs an unexpected cultural labor, becoming operational at a new level. . . .

~ in Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics, University of California Press (2019).


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