Tuesday, February 28, 2012
SONG LYRICS IN YOUR NOVEL
I'm currently in the final editing stage of my novel and have just nuked all the song lyrics from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. This is my first book, started over a few years back, and I thought I could do it like Stephen King with some lines from classic songs to help set the mood. Unfortunately, without the big bucks of SK and the savvy assistant with the time to research the publishing details of each song, acquire permission, and hack out a deal, the songs must go.
I was sad to cut them, though. I consider myself almost equally addicted to music as to movies and books. I find that a soundtrack can make or break a movie. Music is familiar and helps the viewer/reader relate to a scene and maybe even remember it better, long after the movie is over or the book has been closed. No one could forget that scene from Reservoir Dogs paired perfectly with Stealers Wheel's "Stuck In the Middle With You." Quentin Tarantino is a music supervision god.
Some claim that putting lyrics in your novel can date it, and I guess that's possible - if a bunch of your "cool" characters are rocking out to K-Fed or the Spice Girls. I've recently watched several movies from the 90s with big soundtracks that I remember enjoying and found myself cringing. Coolness can definitely be fleeting. So if you are willing to go through the process and front the money, realize that that will be the risk you're taking. Also, what you feel toward a song may not be what someone else feels toward that song. You might hear Celine Dion and think LOVE while someone else might hear her and think KILL NOW (disclaimer: I do not want to kill Celine Dion and have merely put the statement out there for comedic value).
If you come to the decision that your novel cannot do without the song lyrics, I'll discuss a few tips in my next post.