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Listening to Music While Editing

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Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:18 am
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Snoink says...

Writing to music is usually the best way to go. It can drive you, stimulate your thoughts, and encourage a creative process. However, proofreading to music can be deadly. Not for the grammar, mind you. As important as grammar is, it is certainly not as important as what you are trying to say. No, when you look at a piece of a work as a whole and try to figure out whether to tweak a piece of dialogue, etc., for a stronger effect, remember to work in silence.

"Why?" you may wonder. After all, can't you listen to music since it stimulates all this creative energy? Maybe it will make you see things in a more clearer light.

Unfortunately, when we tend to listen to music while proofreading, we tend to listen to the music that we write to -- music that fits the writing style. For example, when I write a comedy piece, I'm going to be listening to some happy Mozart tunes. In contrast, when I write a serious piece of work, I will listen to opera, Enya, LOTR soundtracks, to get the desired "spooky"effect. This helps gets us visualize our stories - complete with a soundtrack.

But when you reread your work, most likely you are going to be drawn in the story, not because of the power of the words, but because of the music. You'll soon be thinking, "Wow, this is the most awesome serious tragedy I've ever written." Oh really? Is it your words or the fact that you are listening to Russian folk music while reading this?

Don't underestimate the power of music.

To test whether your story really does have that power, or see if it's just the music, try an experiment. Put on some music that contrasts terribly with the story. For example, I usually listen to some kid songs, such as the first part of "The Lion King" soundtrack. It's hard to take the story seriously at all when "Oh, I just can't WAIT to be king!!!!!!" is blasting in your ear.

So, if I can't ignore the music, then it's not strong enough. If my writing is so captivating that the music doesn't affect the quality any way, then you got some gold on your hands.

But, just to stay on the safe side, reread your work in silence. You'll thank yourself later.
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach

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Sun Sep 02, 2007 7:36 am
gyrfalcon says...

Ooo, excellent advice, Snoinkus, I'll have to try it! The thing for me is, I can normally ignore the music if it's totally off from what my writing is trying to say--then it's just background noise. But if I wrote a scene while listening to, say, a certain track on the PotC 3 soundtrack (it's amazing by the way, everyone go buy it), I'll get really distracted if a different but similar track comes on while I'm re-reading. It'll hit the wrong notes in, to me, all the wrong places, and in some ways it really is better for me to edit in silence. But in others, re-reading a thing while listening to something slightly different sort of shows it to me in a new light. If the woodwinds come in where strings first inspired, it gives me a different perspective: what if I'd moved the action like this or have the dialoge go like that.

Hope this helps, ta!
"In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function...We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." ~C.S. Lewis

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Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:41 pm
deleted17 says...

Silence scares me. :smt032 Robo-Smilie!
Have your chin up, and speak up.Otherwise, nothing will get done.And what you need to say, will never be heard.Just be confident in what you say, and stand by it

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Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:47 pm
horrendous says...

i can't listen to music while reading, writing or proofreading. i get distracted too easily.
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Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:10 pm
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ThereseCricket says...

Whoaaah, I just saw this. Thanks for writing this, Snoink. That really made up my mind, when it comes to music and editing. :P
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In Doubt Liberty,
In all things Charity.

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Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:52 am
Pretzelstick says...

I personally like to listen to music only when reviewing, what is your opinion on that @Snoink? Just wondering, please tag me when you reply so that I see your answer!
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