Sting is one of my favorite singers and songwriters. He uses literary devices to tell visual, emotional, and thought-provoking stories. I've read a bit about how he opens himself up to the writing process and have found that some of what he espouses works for me.
He applies a blend of intuition, observation, and technical mastery to his writing that I believe can be applied to the art of storytelling.
- Embracing Intuition: Sting often begins by letting go of conscious control and allowing his subconscious to guide him. He describes this as "listening to the music and asking it to tell me a story." This intuitive approach taps into the writer's inner world, drawing on emotions, experiences, and memories that can form the foundation for powerful narratives. In first drafts especially, I find myself taping into a trance-like state that opens my mind to unplanned characters and ideas. The subconscious is a marvelous thing.
- Observation and Discovery: Sting is a keen observer of the world around him, drawing inspiration from everyday encounters, human interactions, and social dynamics. He believes songwriting is a form of "anthropology," where the writer captures the essence of the human experience. Novelists can emulate this approach by immersing themselves in their surroundings, observing characters, and uncovering the stories beneath everyday life's surface.
- Technical Mastery: Sting's songwriting prowess is not merely a product of intuition and observation; he also grounds the story in a deep understanding of musical structure, melody, and lyricism. He meticulously crafts his songs, ensuring each element serves the overall narrative. Novelists can similarly benefit from understanding the technical aspects of storytelling, such as plot structure, character development, and narrative voice.
By applying the principles of Sting's songwriting process, novelists can enhance their craft and create compelling narratives that resonate with readers. Embracing intuition, observing the world with a keen eye, and mastering the technical aspects of storytelling can lead to creating truly impactful works of literature.
Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Sting songs. He bases the story on principles discovered by Psychiatrist Carl Jung. Sting's song explores Jung's belief in collective unconsciousness. Sting has said in interviews that he writes the story of his songs backward. He says knowing the song's last line allows him to drive toward his goal instead of floundering through multiple drafts and dead ends. I like this idea and find that knowing the last line of a novel helps me determine the most effective way of exploring the themes I propose at the beginning.
Listed below are the lyrics to Synchronicity…