Resonance was one such session I recently sat in on during which fantasy writer Rowena Cory Daniells, discussed what resonance was, what it meant for the writer and to the reader and how it was acquired.
She explained how Resonance was the unique feeling the reader took away with them when they finished reading a book. For the Writer, it was that special affinity you try to instill in your writing, the mindset you need to be in in order to write true to your story.
Resonance comes in the most part from past experience. For others on the panel, Steve Irwin (author of The Dead Path) and Nerida Newton (author of the Lambing Flats), their experience stimuli included recalling their own past events and fears to add authenticity to their writing. Visual stimuli such as photos of events or places also contributed.
But if you're like me, music has a profound influence on the way you feel, think and are at any particular moment. It can transport you to another time, setting, and place, instantly triggering a set of emotions unique to the way you felt at that precise moment when you may have first heard the tune.
I associate many memorable songs with scenes, smells, sounds, even the weather at the time. And to this day find it difficult not associating how a particular song or melody resounds with that memory. Most of us have these sorts of musical reminders, songs which resonate a moment intensely personal and special; our wedding waltz, what ever was playing on the radio the first time you tasted champagne...you know the ones.
But how does this improve our writing style? Quite simply. By drawing on these images and feelings conjured by such resounding stimuli, you are adding more than a bit of reality to your tales, more depth of emotion, which allows the reader to enter your world willingly, and enables them to suspend their own beliefs and reality for a while.
And what are some of those tunes which still resound strongly with me today? Here are The Top Five of my Musical Impressions from the Resonance File. And yes, I had to double up, I mean really who can stop at just five...
- Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen. It transports me instantly to a top floor apartment in downtown Istanbul on a heavily overcast, languid morning. On the streets below water trucks clank by, men smash their backgammon chips down onto well loved boards and the scent of the Bosporus competes with the smell of humanity.
- Everybody's Talkin' (at me) - Harry Nilsson. Convertibles cruising through fields of swishing, swaying grass. Wind in my hair, freedom in my veins.
- Spanish Steps - Morton Harket (of A-Ha fame). Yes this one is a little out there but I used to play this one hard during my time working on a luxury super yacht in the Caribbean. I was developing cabin fever at the time, working endless shifts and used to play this at max volume whenever there were no guests aboard as I cleaned the staterooms below decks, away from other crew. It reminded me of Europe, licking gelato under the sunshine on the Spanish Steps, missing my freedom.
- Riding Home for Christmas - Chris Rea. OK, I admit, I have a great Resonance with the 80's but every time I hear this gooey little ballad, I'm on a bus, deep in the dry Turkish interior, covering miles and miles before the next bowl of lentil soup and feeling like I'd reached Nirvana.
- Khe Sahn - Cold Chisel equal tie with Land Down Under - Men at Work. Show me an Aussie that doesn't go a bit doolally whenever either of these two are played anyway in the world outside Sydney and you're not showing me a real Aussie. Images of roof top Raki parties in Turkey...ah...youth.