Are you writing with enough devastation?
“Gold Dust Woman” by Stevie Nicks shows us how it’s done. There’s no holding back.
Fleetwood Mac showcased Stevie Nicks to the world but it was her songwriting skills that propelled her to fame. How did she do it?
She wrote from the heart, explaining: “Devastation leads to writing very good things.” The proof is in her product: Nicks is superb at throwing emotions at a song and turning it into art.
“Gold Dust Woman” is so respected by fans and writers because Nicks created a shareable tale and then set the song free. She set all her songs free and made them to accessible to the world.
How does she manage it?
She never over-shares the secrets behind the words.
She does what great writers do: flirts with symbolism and leaves a beautiful piece of writing open to interpretation so people can make it relate to them.
Yes, “Gold Dust Woman” is associated with drugs and cocaine-taking (Nicks has openly talked about drug use) but there’s so much more to the song than that. There are layers and layers of meaning and emotion threaded throughout it: bitterness, loss, break-ups, bad relationships, insecurities, loneliness, dark side of fame, acrimony, ego, anger, danger.
No wonder the song goes straight to the heart of so many people. It belongs to everyone. There is something for everyone. It’s pure gold.
What does “Gold Dust Woman” have to do with the characters in your book? The song is a reminder that people are very good at putting a “brave face” on bad situations.
Think of it, at the height of Fleetwood Mac fame in the Seventies, Stevie Nicks was musical gold. She was the wild-haired songstress in the spotlight. She was a vision in chiffon and lace.
This ethereal image was projected to the world while her songs told another story. Nicks’ passionate, tumultuous make-up/break-up relationship with fellow bandmate Lindsay Buckingham and the pressure of living in a bubble of rock ‘n’ roll took its toll.
Nicks, as a result, wrote very good things through devastation. To be sure, she added symbolism and intrigue, which is a great writer’s tip: Don’t write “ordinary”, make up stuff, embellish too.
People are about layers, secrets and emotions. People know how to put on the gloss and the sparkle, and people know how to fool most of the people all of the time.
In truth, though, it’s hard to really get to know someone. Yes, of course there will be the gregarious ones who will tell all but more often than not it’s difficult to get someone to truly open up and share their insecurities and fears. Simply, we don’t want people to judge us.
Stevie Nicks’ lyrics were shrouded in symbolism and secrets. The characters in your book should have secrets too.
Take a look at your first 10 pages and ask:
1 What is my character not sharing with the world?
2 What is going on, deep down, in his or her heart?
3 Are my character’s emotions powerful enough to propel the story forward?
4 Underneath the gold and gloss, what is my character really feeling?
5 Can you identify anger, danger, loss, loneliness, bitterness, foolishness or insecurities in your character?
6 What kind of person brings out your character’s worse side?
7 Are you writing with enough devastation? Not matter what genre, emotional wreckage makes great inspiration.