Monday, August 19, 2013

Three things I learned from rappers (and how it applies to writing)

I was discussing rap with one of my friends who is really into music.  She loves rap, so she was telling me her favorites and why.  I don't really know rap very well (except for Watch The Throne, which is awesome).  But she was telling me her theory about what makes a good rapper.  It comes down to three things: flow, meaning, and beats.

Basically, most rappers have two out of the three (except for Kanye who has all three, which is why he is the best, in her opinion).  So I started thinking about this.  Macklemore has beats and meaning, but he gets tripped up on flow sometimes.  The duo Karmin have beats and flow but not meaning, and I can definitely tell in their music that that is what's lacking (though I still really enjoy it).  It can apply to musicians too, but is changed slightly to: beats, emotion (meaning) and lyrics (flow).  Demi Lovato has beats and emotion, but her lyrics aren't the best.

So how does this apply to writing?  Well, I think you need all three things in order to have a good novel.

Emotion to me is having good characters that you can root for and invest in. You have to feel something for them.  It's not just having quirks or interesting traits because while those are cool, to really be invested and care, there needs to be emotion.

Lyrics are two fold.  To me they include the writing and the voice.  Both are necessary to produce a good novel.

Beats is a little more abstract.  In a song, what do beats do?  They're the background of the song, but also the backbone that pushes the song forward. So in this analogy, beats, to me, would be setting and plot. Setting in the sense that it's all encompassing and plot in the sense that it's the backbone of the story and moves it forward.

So for me, those are the things that are most important in a story.

What about you?  What do you consider most important?

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