We’re going to When Words Collide next weekend and I am very excited. I’m on two panels, one on Alpha and Beta characters (my take: don’t confuse alpha with asshole even though they both start with A) and a special workshop on using Youtube to better your writing, mostly focusing on the brilliant Vihart. If you haven’t watched her everything, you darn well should.
The panel is going to be on multiple videos, but the one I want to share is riffing off the brilliant Pachebel’s Rant, you should go do that right away. It’s about that la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da tune shows up in all kinds of songs from Twisted Sister to Avril Lavigne. No one wants to just make a copy of the la-da-da song in your genre of choice, but when you go down from C, there are only a finite amount of variations that sound good and work for the song. Vihart does a brilliant demonstration of how the more experienced you are as a creator, the more you can step off the beaten path and get into some wonderful events that are unexpected but work within the limitations of the story you’ve set out.
Writing isn’t about choosing the most obvious path. It’s about going down multiple possibilities to end up with a trail behind you that hasn’t been beaten down before. The original idea that stops you is only half the battle. The second half is waiting for that thing that makes your story unlike anyone else’s. If you look at the scenes of your book as the notes in a musical piece, we all want to make ourselves unique.
The second linked video goes to Twelve Tones. It’s one of the most perfect videos on creation I’ve ever seen. I agree with her 98%, though. She talks about copyright and when she tries to play a bit of real twelve tone music from an original composer, she “can’t” because the song is still in copyright. She could still play 10% of it and still be okay, but her argument that the creator was born in 1876 doesn’t hold a lot of weight to me. He was born that long ago, but he only died in 1950 something. I believe that creators should profit from their creation. Disney is going to perpetually extend copyright for thousands of years and that’s horrible, but we can still create and take our inspiration anywhere we want. Writing is all about taking themes and ideas and making them your own, but then you can’t copyright themes as you can collections of notes.