by: Staci Stallings
Okay, so you might not know this as a reader. It’s one of those first obstacles most writers have. It goes something like this:
“There’s this song I want to use in my book. It’s a really popular song, and it will fit really well with this story. So, what do I need to do to get permission to use it?”
The short answer is: Good luck.
Because of copyright laws and the way things are now, it is very difficult to get permission to use songs (or practically speaking anything else) in a book. What this effectively means is that when you write a novel that has songs in it, the easiest thing to do is write original songs yourself.
Now, I say “easiest” but I do not mean that is easy at all. It is NOT.
Ask me how I know.
The current series I’m working on features a set of young people who have formed a band. One of them writes the songs they sing. (Do you see where this is going?) Because I literally can’t have them cover any songs and actually write out the lyrics… There is one song they “sing” that is a cover, but all I did was give the reader the song title. Then I had to hope that the reader both knows the song and can pick it out in their head as the characters are singing it because I can’t give you any lyrics.
Anyway… What all of this basically means is, I’ve gotten to write a LOT of music for this series. Add to the challenge of writing the music trying to convey how it is sung to my readers. Add to THAT challenge that this talented group of musicians never does the same song the same way twice. So one time one of them will do the melody and one the harmonies and echoes, and the next time that’s flipped completely.
AND… it’s important who sings which line and how! UGH.
So, here’s just a snippet of my current challenge (bit of backstory on this piece: Paige went with Greg at one point, but now she’s going with Nelson). See what you think…
Melting back and down into the guitar strings, Nelson let himself fall into just making the most of the intertwining of the melody he knew like his own heartbeat.
“Hopeless,” Greg sang, leaning to the microphone by the keyboard. “Hopelessly devoted… to you. This is my anthem. This is my song. This will be my melody my whole life long.”
“You’re my fascination,” Paige joined in.
“My every temptation,” Greg sang with a timid smile at her, which she returned.
“You’re my solid ground.”
“My bluest sky.”
“My peace of mind.”
“My wings to fly,” Greg sang, and it was as if the longer they went, the less awkward it became between them. “And I’m hopeless…”
Wes and Nelson added the harmonies. “Hopeless.”
“Hopelessly devoted,” Paige sang, and Nelson couldn’t help but feel how truly beautiful her voice was. It was softer than Taylor’s, breathier and far less confident. Of course, he had sung Only Together and even a couple of other songs with Paige, but honestly, he’d never really thought of her doing more than filling in a few parts here and there. Now, seeing her like this, stepping so far out of her comfort zone, singing with Greg, hearing how her voice blended in with his so nicely, Nelson wondered why he’d never made it a point to have her sing with them before.
“To you,” Greg sang.
“And I’m hopeless…” she sang back to him.
“Hopeless,” Nelson sang the harmony of the repeat with Wes as he smiled and nodded at the feeling that he could get used to this. His song, her voice melding with theirs in raw perfection in real life. It was a dream he’d never thought to dream before.
“Hopelessly devoted,” she sang before Greg joined her, “To you.”
What do you think? Did I pull it off so that you can “hear” the song, how it’s sung and who is singing it, and get the thoughts and feelings behind it?
Welcome to one small piece of my current greatest challenge ever!