I love music. I like a slide guitar that growls like a man with a Monday morning hangover; a lead guitar that shrieks like a menopausal fish wife; a bass that thumps like a car with a blown piston; drums that thunder like jets on the tarmac. Oh, and a fat, robust horn section is always nice.
Bill Deal and the Rhondels wrote Swinging Tight, one of my favorite songs, way back in the 60’s.
We go to a dance
Dance every dance together
Every step that we take
You know that we’ll make it forever
Each kiss is out of sight
And everything is going just right
Baby, baby, baby
We’re swinging tight
What do you think of those lyrics? Banal and sophomoric, right? Wrong.
Every time I listen to this song I’m a seventeen year old boy with the girl of my dreams. The music brings the lyrics to life, infuses them with meaning and vitality. They roar.
I believe the same is, or at least can be true for authors. A good, well-written story with vivid characters can elevate workmanlike prose to a higher level that resonates with readers. It requires attention to detail and a willingness to take chance, a willingness to fail.
Most of us lack the talent to write the soaring prose of Faulkner or Hemingway, but that doesn’t mean we have to play it safe. Speak with a loud voice. Let the writing roar, and while you’re at it you might want to listen to Swinging Tight. You’ll love it.