(as advertised on Twitter) LOL
When I first started developing my story idea, I was listening to Lungs by Florence and the Machine, that song ‘The Hardest of Hearts’.
It was such a touching song, to such a strange beat that the contradiction stuck with me. (I mean literally, sang it for days)
I had a dream a few nights later about two characters, stuck in a situation based on the lyrics of that song.
The softest of kisses will melt the hardest of hearts, as the lyrics say. I had two, very different characters, from two very different worlds… and there was no way that the conditions were right for them to like each other, let alone, fall for each other. It just wouldn’t happen.
Then, of course, I thought… what would MAKE it happen? What set of circumstances would have to occur, for that to happen?
I was stuck. My brain hit a wall, and I didn’t know how to move forward. This story was not unique. It had actually been done to death. I didn’t have a single original thing to say. So, I shelved it.
…or so I thought…
The next couple of days, I had a completely different song stuck in my head. I don’t usually listen to the radio much (at least I didn’t, until this theory) and I didn’t even realized that I knew this song, but 30 Seconds to Mars’s song ‘The Kill’ was really stuck in there! I could not get it out!
At first, I hated it… then I liked it… then I realized: my subconscious is helping me with my dead end story idea!
I got excited when the new angle to my story started dancing around in my head. This time, from the antagonist’s POV. I had my entire antagonist’s side of the story top to bottom in rough cut!
So, though, I didn’t have an outline (cuz my dog ate it), I just did that scene snap shot for each day, I knew where my story was going to end up. I was going to try to ‘let it breath’ as they say. Try to work through the growing pains. *I’m still experimenting with what works for me.*
I had my protagonist and their whole story complete with goals/motivations, character arc, etc.
I had my antagonist and their whole story complete with goals/motivations, character arc, etc.
But… (here-in, usually lies my problem) blending all my worlds and situations into a seamless and engaging tale of suspense? hmmm… there’s that wall again.
Enter earworm #3.
‘Too Cold for Angels to Fly’ by Ed Sheeran. Boom.
So, here it is… my theory on earworms:
Our subconscious minds are so much smarter at deconstruction, resolution, and general story excavation than our conscious minds ever could be. To that end, if I haven’t heard a song in a week, and currently am struggling to move forward with a storyline, and that long absent song is suddenly all over me… listen up folks… cuz your subconscious mind is leaving you clues that your conscious mind might be missing!
If you subscribe to Stephen King’s idea that stories are ‘found things’ waiting to be unearthed… this might be for you. :)
I feel that our subconscious minds speak to us in our dreams, but when we are open to the signs... our super smart sides are leaving us clues everywhere!
Have you ever noticed that the very best ideas seemingly pop into our conscious minds out of nowhere while we are keeping the clumsy, pushy part of our brain too busy to get in the way? (driving, hiking, cleaning... etc.)
My theory is that our subconscious minds use association... I'm certainly not saying that your MC needs to get his credit report if you're singing about that waiter/pirate/guitarist... (Stephen and Jennifer ;) I'm just saying if there is something you need in a story... those little things that our subconscious minds do... those are the first place I would look. You never know... maybe your MC's identity was stolen and he is about to be framed for a crime he didn't commit. ;)
*Without going back and cheating... quick! Tell me how many times I said subconscious in this post!! Haha!*