Writer’s Block – dialogue

by Diane Grant

I’ll finish with Walter Kerr’s demonstration of  good dialogue – the difference between general language and the way we speak. He says that detail, detail, and more detail is what you are after and quotes two different passages from plays by John Steinbeck – Burning Bright and Of Mice and Men.

I’m putting it in here mostly because I can never read the excerpt from Of Mice and Men without crying.  It’s that good!

Burning Bright is about a man who is afraid he can’t have children and he’s talking to a friend:

JOE SAUL: A man can’t scrap his blood-line, can’t snip the thread of his immortality. There’s more than just memory, more than my training and the remembered stories of glory and the forgotten shame of failure. There is a trust imposed to hand my line over to another, to place it like a thrush’s egg in my child’s hand. You’ve given your bloodline to the twins, Friend Ed. But I….

FRIEND ED: Maybe you should go to doctors. There might be a remedy you haven’t thought of.

JOE SAUL: What do they know? There is some dark curse on me and I feel it.

FRIEND ED: On you alone, Joe Saul? Do you feel singled out, pinned up alone? It’s time we sing this trouble out into the air and light, else it will grow like a cancer in your mind. Rip off the cover. Let it out. Maybe, you’re not alone in your secret cave…

JOE SAUL: I know. I’m guess I’m digging like a mole into my own darkness. Of course, Friend Ed, I know it’s a thing that can happen to anyone, in any place or time. And maybe all these have the secret locked up in loneliness.

Steinbeck wrote another play about loneliness and friendship, Of Mice and Men:

His characters, George and Lennie are eating dinner.

GEORGE: There’s enough beans for four men.

LENNIE: I like ‘em with ketchup.

GEORGE: Well, we ain’t got any. Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. God Almighty, if I was alone, I could live so easy. I could go get a job of work and no trouble. No mess…and when the end of the month come, I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why I could stay in a cat-house all night. I could eat any place I want. Order any damn thing.

LENNIE: I didn’t want no ketchup.

GEORGE: I could do that every damn month. Get a gallon of whiskey or be in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool. And what have I got? I got you. You can’t keep a job and you lose me every job I got!

LENNIE: I don’t mean nothing, George.

GEORGE: Just keep me shovin’ all over the country, all the time. And that ain’t the worst – you get in trouble. You do bad things and I got to get you out. It ain’t bad people that raises hell. It’s dumb ones. You crazy son of a bitch, you keep me in hot water all the time. You just want to feel that girl’s dress. Just wanta to pet it like it was a mouse. Well, how the hell’d she know you just want to feel her dress? How’d she know you’d just hold onto it like it was a mouse?

LENNIE: I didn’t mean to, George?

GEORGE: Sure you didn’t mean to. You didn’t mean for her to yell bloody hell, either. You didn’t mean for us to hide in the irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin’ for us with guns. Alla time it’s something you didn’t mean. God damn it, I wish I could put you in a cage with a million mice and let them pet you.

LENNIE: George?

GEORGE: What do you want?

LENNIE: I was only foolin’, George. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.

GEORGE: If they was some here you could have it. And if I had a thousand bucks I’d buy ya a bunch of flowers.

Walter Kerr says, “The difference in the two is in the words. In the first, the words remind us of nothing real: the second is specific and the words crackle.”

So I’m looking for that moment that crackles, that puts down that first sentence, that leads me to a protagonist and an antagonist and a struggle between them. That leads to me a story.

People advise me, “Doesn’t matter what it is. Write a line a day.” “Take a walk.” “Meditate.” “When you are most frustrated, that’s when the ideas will come.” “It happens to everybody.”

So I think I’ll have a glass of wine and watch Chopped.

Could work!

.

Writer’s Block 2 – Finding the Story

by Diane Grant

What I did was go back to a book on playwriting written called How Not To Write A Play by Walter Kerr, who was a playwright in the 40’s and 50’s, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a critic for the New York Herald Tribune and the Sunday New York Times.

His mantra is, “Avoid generalities. Be specific.”

The beginning of the work arises from something specific, from seeing something or hearing or remembering something concrete that starts your imagination working.

It can be just a glimpse of someone – an old acquaintance laughing, a man crying in a corner, two women jogging, one talking on the phone. It could be a piece of landscape – that enormous, bright supermoon in November, for example. It could be a snatch of dialogue.

My friend, Madeleine, collects things she’s heard on the street and publishes the results every year during the holidays. She just loves to listen. I love to listen, too and I really recommend carrying around a recorder or a notebook so that you can catch something you see or hear that astounds or delights or amuses or just interests you.

Just recently, I looked at my notebook and found two men walking down the street arguing and the one said, “Of course, your Dad thinks Jesus is magic.” Another day, I heard a woman shouting into her phone, “Well, the drugs aren’t working so I’m not going to pay for them.”  I heard a man screaming at his wife, “This is my time. Don’t you understand? This is for me! My time!”

My husband and I were at lunch not long ago and heard a full bearded man talking to someone in a big wide brimmed black hat about how he could get her a radio show with an international following because he knew the King of Jordan’s sister. All he needed was some start up money. The person in the hat never spoke, we never saw the face, just the hat.

Where could that lead me?, I thought.  Who was the person in the black brimmed hat? Was she old or young? Maybe she was very beautiful. Was she crying? Was she smiling? Was she listening? Maybe the person in the hat wasn’t a woman!

I could do a little research perhaps. (I’m a great fan of Wikipedia.) Does the King of Jordan have a sister? Aha. He has six and he once had a bit part on Star Trek. King Abdullah’s Sisters.

Walter Kerr’s advice is to let all the pieces start to come together and don’t yet criticize. Keep your eyes and ears open and see where they take you. Put down details. One phrase may lead to another, one association to another, something will jog your memory which will connect to something else, and gradually you will have accumulated material to work with. You will put it all together to tell a story.

Maybe the situation would start me off. Maybe, King Abdullah’s Sisters has nothing to do with the King Of Jordan. Other characters might appear, a waiter who knows that the bearded man has run a tab that has to be paid, or a street musician who serenades them, or a woman who says, “Marguerite! At last!”

I don’t want to start with a theme. I can never enter those contests that ask you to write a ten minute play that has a theme to follow – Holey Moley, Curves Ahead, Time Forgot, etc. My brain freezes.

However, recently, I forgot that and thought I could write a play about the friendship between Albert Einstein and Paul Robeson. (And that’s probably when my writer’s block started).

In the afternoon of October 12, 1952, Paul Robeson visited Einstein at his home on Mercer Street in Princeton and they talked for six hours. Einstein was not well and very discouraged and it’s said that he was re-energized by that visit.

How inspirational, I thought. I kept seeing the last moments of the play with Einstein at the piano and Robeson singing.

I read all I could about them and their mutual activism. And the play just sat there. Dead.

I was trying to write about two historical figures, two geniuses I had nothing in common with, had never met, and never would meet – I, a white woman with no mathematical ability or scientific ability like Einstein’s, who speaks only one language, not twenty, like Paul Robeson. (I do sing.)

But the problem wasn’t that I was trying to write about historical figures. I was starting not with specifics but a theme, a generality. I was going to write about altruism and the efforts of two men to help change the world.

And it didn’t work. Back to the book!

Writer’s Block 1

by Diane Grant

I just wrote a paper for a festival and that is about all I’ve written for a while. It’s long, so I’ll put in here in sections. Maybe, it can help somebody with the same problem.

I’ve been suffering from writer’s block. I want to write a new play and have no ideas. So I’ve been thinking about it. How to start again? Can I work myself out of it? Do I wait until it’s gone? Do I just stop?

Sometimes, writing is easy. I’ve written with ensemble groups and know and love how that works. It’s so much fun and so exciting to build a play together with others – from stage to page using research and improv and a writer who gets it all down, then cuts and shapes the work into a whole.

I fantasize that Will Shakespeare came in to work every morning and said something like, “I just read about a man who was poisoned through his ear while he slept. Could it be a king, maybe?” “Not another king,” they say. “No, this is different. He’s the King of Denmark.” “OK. What next?” “Maybe his son wants to avenge him.” And the men say, “How does he know about it?” “Who tells him?” they ask. “What about a ghost? says one. “I play a good ghost, Will. Isn’t that right?”

However, Shakespeare was with one company for a long time and could work and rehearse every day. I don’t know too many companies who have the time and money to do that now.

When you’re alone at your computer, it’s different. I know I always want to have a story, someone to root for – a protagonist who wants something, a conflict – an antagonist or antagonists who prevent him or her from getting what he or she wants – and a resolution – a decision or action by the protagonist that changes things.

But how did I begin before? What started the process?

Here’s what John Steinbeck said, writing to a friend.

“Dear Robert,

I hear from a couple of attractive grapevines that you are having trouble writing. God! I know this feeling so well. I think it is never coming back, but it does – one morning, there it is again.

About a year ago, Bob Anderson asked me for help in the same problem. I told him to write poetry – not for selling – not for seeing – poetry to throw away. For poetry is the mathematics of writing and closely akin to music. And it is also the best therapy because sometimes the troubles come tumbling out.

Well, he did. For six months he did. And I have three joyous letters from him saying that it worked. Just poetry – anything and not designed for a reader. It’s a great and valuable privacy.

I offer this if your dryness goes on too long and makes you too miserable. You may come out of it any day. I have. The words are fighting each other to come out.

Love to you,

John.”

Might be worth a try!

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

by Diane Grant

I now know how difficult it is to send those rejection letters we all hate to receive.

Seven years ago, a small group of us started the Palisades Playwrights Festival at Theater Palisades, wanting to introduce new voices to a community theater that is still convinced that plays like Chapter Two, The Foreigner, and You Can’t Take It With You, are the only plays that people will come to see.

We have readings of new plays for three Tuesdays in April with a Q&A after and wine and refreshments before. We’ve found some really well written, entertaining – even crowd pleasing – new plays. They are well rehearsed and staged and the actors throw themselves into them. (A friend from ALAP came and although she didn’t say whether or not she liked the play, thought the acting was stupendous.) And even though we have yet to convince the powers that be to add any of these new plays to a season – we’ll keep trying – our audience for the readings has continued to grow and people come back every year.

We initially had submissions from only the Westside but alarmingly for such a small crew, our submissions have increased too, and this year we had seventy plays to read! We had to open up the process to more readers, and from October to February, we read, read, and read.

With only three slots, choosing the plays was very difficult.

Then came the writing of the rejection letters! It is so hard to reject good scripts and really awful having to turn friends down. Some people ask for notes and that’s OK. I’ll do that when I can think again. And some people don’t take it well at all! One playwright sent me a message that said, “Your financial institution has important information for you. Click here.” (Fortunately, he neglected to remove his photo from the side of the email.)

Surprisingly, we had far more submissions from men than women. We chose two plays by men this year, a romantic comedy about a novelist being dragged into the 21st century; a play set in 1947 about PTSD and the then new idea of putting small offenders into community service; followed by a dark hilarious comedy by a woman, Virginia Mekkelson, about how a surprise delivery of a crocodile solves a couple of problems with bad corporate bosses.

I hope that we have more plays from women next year and that lapfiers will make our work even harder next year and submit.

 

 

PITCHING OUR LITTLE HEARTS OUT

by Diane Grant

A while ago, Nancy Beverly, a fellow lafpier, sent me a link to a YouTube series called The Calamities of Jane, which is about a 50’ish actress who is still trying to make it in the biz. Nancy wrote a lot of the episodes on this show which stars Rebecca Klinger, who produced and plays the title role.

Each episode, and I’ve seen three so far, is sharp, honest, very funny and so painful.

And all released a flood of memories. I remembered the time I was auditioning for a commercial in which a woman who has won a big prize throws a bunch of cash in the air. I had made everyone laugh and I knew, just knew, that I’d booked it, when some demon inside me spoke up and said, “But wouldn’t they have given her a check?” End of story. There was a game show I thought I was sailing through until a guy came up to me and whispered, “Relax, sweetheart, and pull down your skirt.” Didn’t book that again. There was always something. I was too fat or too thin, too young or too old, or “too short for a two shot.” Strangely, whenever there was something I was absolutely right for, the daughter of my agent would get the part.

Then, my husband, a filmmaker, and I wrote screenplays together. And of course, pitched them. We pitched our little hearts out. And kept at it until we had holes (not diamonds) in the soles of our shoes. We worked for Amway distributors and phone rooms and wrote a charming little story that could have made the studios millions, called The Blini.

Like Jane, we always had car trouble and one day on our way to a studio, we heard a thump and a clunk and a rattle and a horn honking. A woman in the next lane yelled, “You’ve got a flat tire.” We kept on, flat tire or no. (We found out on another occasion, that the spare tire in the trunk is smaller than the other three and when you put it on the wheel and drive off, you feel like clowns in an impoverished circus troupe.)

We limped into the studio, and pitched our charming little story with great verve and sparkle and passion. The producer told our agent that she was “underwhelmed.”

We were sent out again and while waiting and waiting in the anteroom of yet another producer, told an assistant that we had to go soon to pick up our daughter from school. When the producer finally appeared, she said, “Make it quick. We don’t want your daughter to be abducted on the street corner.”

We were sent to another studio. We’d had to change the date and our agent assured us that that hadn’t been a good move. While we waited, sitting in two tiny chairs, in yet another anteroom, which was the size of one of those walk in closets you see on reality shows, the producer’s “girl” talked on the phone. “Well,” she shouted. “So what if he had a gun? What’s so wrong about that? What is your problem?”

Finally, we were waved into the producer’s enormous office, where he was watching the stock market figures moving across an electronic band at the base of his office walls. He might have said, “Go ahead,” but we weren’t sure because he was talking over his shoulder. However, we pitched our little hearts out and then he said, “I think I heard that pitch before and passed.”

We did have a little run of luck and after winning with a short film at Cannes wrote another charming little script, this time for a studio, a complete rewrite of one of their films. We called it Cannes Artists. I have to make this short because I might START SOBBING. It did make millions for the studio but not for us because the head of the studio who had employed us left and the project was passed on to a new writer who rewrote it and called his script Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Now, when I send out my plays and receive a rejection in two seconds flat or don’t hear back at all or get that “not for us at this time” email, I don’t blink. I pour myself a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio, turn on the TV, put up my feet, and watch Chopped.

The Calamities of Jane – www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIfiumV3S4s

Lady-Like

Lady-like

It is so difficult to write a play based on real characters, particularly people who lived in a time different from our own. What were their mores, their culture, their understanding of the world? How did they talk? What did they wear? What did their world look like?

And how do you make the events of long ago feel immediate and new?

Laura Shamas took all that on and wrote Lady-Like, an enchanting musical with all the elements of a really good story – love, jeopardy, suspense, surprises, humor and sadness.

I felt as if I knew the characters, two aristocratic women, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, and their faithful Irish maid, Mary Carryll , who in 1778, ran away from English society and made a home in Wales, where they lived together until they died.

What was thoroughly engaging was the sense of place and time that Laura evoked. She researched the story with a research grant when she was a grad student and traveled to “Kilkenny, Woodstock, Waterford, Oxford, Aberystywyth and Llangollen to retrace the women’s steps, hold their letters, and smell the flowers at Play Newydd” (their home in Wales).

We got to know the women, whose elopement was sensational and who became known as the Ladies of Llangollen, “the two most celebrated virgins in Europe.”   (On a modern note, as they became famous, they were visited by other famous or soon to be famous people, like the Duke of Wellington, Josiah Wedgwood, and William Wordsworth. The cult of celebrity is not new!)

Laura first wrote Lady-Like as a play and then turned it  into a musical, teaming up with Lisa Donovan Lukas, who wrote the lyrics and music. I was happy to attend the “very first reading” of the show at the Santa Monica Playhouse in June.

Lady-Like has only three characters. Sarah was played by Emma Appleyard, Eleanor by Janna Cardia, and Mary by Jean Kauffman. Each was excellent. A lot of humor was supplied by Jean as Mary, who was a perfect foil for the two. Alex Shamas was the stage director.

The music, which is lovely, had the composer at the piano. You can listen to her music on You Tube and on her website www.lisadonovanlukas.com.

Congratulations to all. I’m hoping that I’ll see a full production soon, perhaps at the Geffen or the Taper.

Lady Plays

by Diane Grant
ladyplaysgraphicsquare

A few months ago, from out of the blue, I got an email from Lynde Rosario. She and her fellow producer, Kate O’Phalen, founded Lady Plays, which records and podcasts bi monthly readings of plays by women and airs them online, as a new way to provide a platform for women to have their stories told.

Lynde is a Harvard/ART trained dramaturg and Kate is an Equity actor who has played in New York and at regional theaters across the country.

They were interested in producing my romantic comedy, Sunday Dinner.

It would be the second play they had put up on the free Podcasts, which are available on Itunes. I listened to the first play and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was an intriguing play, called Box of Lies, by Karin Diann Williams, about an encounter in an airport bar between two strangers, a man and a woman, one a psychoanalyst and one the writer Anais Nin.

The quality of the recording was very good and I felt as if I was in that bar with them.

I don’t know where they found a copy of my play and but “Yes,” immediately.

The recording is excellent and meticulously done. Lynde sent a comprehensive list of stage directions for Sunday Dinner, which were to stay and which to be replaced by sound effects.

The sound designer, Chris Gillard of Sound Haus Audio added the excellent sound effects. Here they are. (Just for fun.)

Wine pouring / Glasses clink
Munching chips / wine pouring
Bottle on table
Phone dialing
Intercom buzzing
Intercom buzzing
Banging of cupboard doors, cutlery being dropped, glass smashing
Bag of chips falling / wine pouring / intercom buzz / different buzz sound
Bottles clinking
Wine pouring

Cork popping / wine pouring
Crash of dishes
Glasses clinking
Slap
Pills rattling
Car keys jingling
Pills rattling
Case snapping shut
Doorbell rings
Cork popping
Wine pouring / glasses clinking
Doorbell rings

Glasses clink
Papers flapping
Door slams
Intercom buzzing / different buzz / cupboard doors opening and shutting

The third play is up now, By Any Other Name by Carol Lashof, about a married couple in transition. I won’t tell you more. You’ll have to listen.

Each of the plays ends with an interview with the playwright.

Email ladyplayspodcast@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming involved or if you would like to interview the producers. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LadyPlays.

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Black Acting On Film

      by Diane Grant

My husband, Kerry Feltham, is a filmmaker who specializes in documentary films. I’m blogging about one of his films today because it is about the late Karen Black, who died on August the 8th, 2013. Called Karen Black Acting On Film, the film is up on Amazon Instant Video – $1.99 to rent and $7.99 to buy – and is really worth watching.

He and I followed Karen around as she made films and friends, talked about life in show business and shared her insights into acting technique. She had a prodigious natural talent but was also so disciplined and skilled, she made it look easy.

And it isn’t.

What is so good in the film is her understanding not only of acting, particularly on film, but about the courage and energy and strength it takes to keep going in show business, pushing through on the rough days, having fun on the good ones. The latter is pertinent to all of us, whether we are acting, writing, or producing in either film or theater.

Even when she was no longer at the top – and she had been for a long time in such films as Trilogy of Terror, The Day Of The Locust, Nashville, The Great Gatsby, Five Easy Pieces – she continued to work. Character work was her forte and she created wonderfully full characters, some odd, some funny, some sad, but always full.

Lately, I’ve thought quite often about packing it in. How many plays can you have in the drawer? How many staged readings of plays you long to see on their feet can you sit through? How many submissions can you make in a month? And to whom? Didn’t you submit that one to that contest in 2011? Or was it that one in 2012? Should you keep all those email rejections?

And we all tell ourselves the same thing over and over. It’s the work, the doing of it, the joy of doing it.

Karen was a vivid example of that joy.

Karen Black

KAREN BLACK Acting on Film

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathing Room

by Diane Grant

Every once in a while, you come across a work that knocks your socks off.

In September of last year, I saw a performance of Mary Lou Newmark’s Breathing Room at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose. The play was filled with beautiful music. The language and situations were fresh and arresting and I still think of that evening with pleasure.

Billed as A Chamber Symphony for Two Actors and a Musician in Four Acts, it was written and composed by Mary Lou, directed by Dan Berkowitz, with movement by Gary Thomas.

The other two performers were Joshua Wolf Coleman and Eileen T’Kaye who played two neighbors in a Los Angeles suburb – Marilyn, an artist, and the Professor, a high school science teacher.

This is from her website: The two of them struggle with “modern technologic vertigo” as they negotiate living with hummingbirds, meatball eating bears, coyotes and backyard chickens. With evocative music performed live on stage by Mary Lou, they explore personal relationships with nature, quantum physics and embodied spirituality through playful, humorous storytelling.

(Shallow creature that I am, I particularly enjoyed a segment on Bed, Bath and Beyond.)

Mary Lou plays a green acrylic 5-String Electric Violin and uses an Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer.

Here’s a photo so you can see that wonderful violin.

The neon green electric violin

Mary Lou Newmark and the neon green electric violin

In a clip from Breathing Room on her website, you can also see the instruments that stand in for an entire orchestra.

Here’s the link: http://www.greenangelmusic.com/breathing-room.php

Breathing Room was at the Zephyr for only one night and Mary Lou is looking for a long run. I hope she finds that production because I’d like to see it again.

 

 

Writing Lyrics

by Diane Grant

Did I talk about this before? It’s still on my mind.   I teamed up with a composer, Andy Chukerman, and have been writing lyrics for a play that he’ll put music to. We’re transforming my romantic comedy, The Piaggi Suite, into a play with music. Andy says that a musical has a formula that a play with music need not have. “It’s new,” he says. “It’s fresh.”

So I’ve been traveling into new territory.

Writing lyrics hasn’t come easy. I don’t know why. I sing. I write poetry. But for this exercise, the words have incubated for a long time. My admiration for Paul Simon, which has always been great, is now huge. And how did Billy Joel come up with “car” and ‘guitar” (easily) but “Zanzibar?”

So, of course, I used the rhyming dictionary on the Web and have spent hours looking at it, just because it is so much fun. There are words of one syllable that rhyme, two syllables, three syllables, words that almost rhyme but not quite, words that sounds like others, etc.

Here’s just one example:

Words and phrases that rhyme with love:   (89 results)

1 syllable:

dove, glove, gov, of, shove

2 syllables:
above, all of, belove, deneuve, free of, golf glove, kid glove, kind of, labov, labove, lot of, most of, o’glove, one of, out of, part of, proud of, rid of, rock dove, sick of, some of, sort of, speak of, suede glove, talk of, thereof, think of, vanhove, void of, write of

3 syllables:
abreast of, a lot of, barren of, baseball glove, batting glove, bereft of, boxing glove, conceive of, consist of, deprived of, devoid of, dispose of, empty of, fall short of, get hold of, get out of, get rid of, hand and glove, hand in glove, in awe of, in front of, in terms of, let go of, made use of, metal glove, mourning dove, patient of, take hold of, talk out of, the end of, the likes of, the rest of, tired of, undreamed of, walk out of

4 syllables:
a couple of, admitting of, allowing of, destitute of, impatient of, innocent of, neglectful of, permitting of, pull the leg of, suggestive of, think the world of, unworthy of

5 syllables:
indicative of, intolerant of, reminiscent of, symptomatic of, under the thumb of, undeserving of

7 syllables:
uncharacteristic of

Example from “MOST LIKELY YOU GO YOUR WAY” by Bob Dylan:

You say you love me
And you’re thinkin’ of me

 1 of 100 examples  >

89 Results!  I wish I had needed to use uncharacteristic of.

(Whoever wrote this particular rhyming dictionary was crazy about Bob Dylan and used his songs all the time.)

However, in order to rhyme something, you have to have other words for words to rhyme with. How to say in song what you want to say? What do you want to say?

I asked for advice. A colleague from ALAP, Eugenie Trow, advised me to write everything in prose first, then go for the rhyme and rhythm after. The composer said to use dialogue already in the script.

There’s advice you can buy – books on Amazon like Successful Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis, Writing Music for Hit Songs by Jai Josefs, Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison.

I found a terrific book online called Teach Yourself Songwriting by Sam Inglis. He talks about hooks, those lyrical phrases that repeat in the chorus or open the song that catch you – that hook you. Like The Beatles singing Let it Be, or Kate Perry’s You’re Hot, Then You’re Cold, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. The hooks have to fit the rhythm, the melody, and the mood of the song. They’ll tell you what the song is about and if they’re good, they’ll stick with you.

Start with the hook, he advised, and go from there. Listen for them in music and conversations, look for them in the news, hear them in your head.

So, I started listening for the hooks.

This is one of my favorites:

 

Hooks were just the start but I now have 8 finished lyrics and hope they’re good. Sugar, yes, please.

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