Writing is Like a Symphony

Tonight, I am going to the symphony. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will be presenting Holst’s The Planets. They’re including shots from various NASA missions and the Hubble telescope.

They’re also going to do excerpts from Star Wars, including the title theme and the Imperial March, which will be really cool to “feel” in Symphony Hall!

I love the symphony. Back in the day, I played viola in high school, then later in a church orchestra. It always amazed me how so many disparate instruments could be brought together by a composer’s imagination and a conductor’s will. It mimics the writing process in a way.

In writing, you take disparate concepts and words and arrange them into a work, the same way a composer (or arranger) puts notes to sheet music. You know the story setup, the first movement, in which you introduce your setting, giving us a sense of time and place and emotion.

The second movement is the introduction of your characters, who they are, what they want, and what they’re going to do to get it. We are caught up in them, in their action, swept along as the excitement and tension builds layer by layer (instrument by instrument).

The third movement is the black moment. Everything comes to a head in this section. Everything in the piece has been leading up to this moment, and we are hanging on the edge of our seats, rapt. We have run up that literary or musical hill to stand breathless, only to be knocked from our firm footing.

Then comes the four movement. Everything is coming to resolution, and we are presented with an ending that satisfies and delivers.

And through it all has been the conductor who, much like an editor, takes the creative work and directs it into the most impactful piece it can be.

Just a little something to ponder on this Saturday morning. Think about listening to a symphonic piece as your write your words today.

Happy creating!