Friday, September 28, 2012

Carl Brush stops by for a chat

I am so excited to have Carl Brush stop by today.  Okay, Carl, take it away.......

Thanks so very much, Penny, for inviting me to appear on Penny’s Tales and to give the world a peek at what goes on in my wandering mind. Since I don’t mention my newly released historical thriller The Second Vendetta in my piece below, let me say something about it here. Whoops, I just did, didn’t I? Well, now that you know that much we’ll take a short intermission while you go to and spend $3.99 on the biggest literary bargain of the year. More info at

Ok, now that that’s done, we can move on to something unique for your edification and delight.

Making Your Story Sing

We’re always looking for ways to pull our readers into the tales we tell. Basic writing 1A instructs us to engage all the senses, to give the audience things to see, touch, taste, hear, and smell; and for sure that technique’s essential. However, it seems to me we often neglect a powerful ancillary tool for engaging nearly all those senses at once and evoking floods of emotion at the same time.
Nothing arouses our feelings more intensely than music. There’s the “our song,” a mere bar or two of which can reawaken those sensations from the sweet (mostly) days of courtship. Four notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” puts you back in your high school or college cap and gown. Those gut responses are the reason that it profits music companies to endlessly rerun commercials for the “oldies” of whatever decade, or that PBS uses those “doo-wop” specials to attract audiences on pledge nights. We should get in on the act.
Of course, short of inserting a sound file in our e-books or attaching a CD to our print copies, there’s no way to get Sinatra’s voice to burst out of our pages. However, we can help our readers to do it for us.
We all have at least a passing acquaintance with hundreds, maybe thousands, of melodies. Who doesn’t know at least a snippet of “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” or “The Wheels on the Bus?” Folk/popular songs such as “This Land is Your Land,” or “You Are My Sunshine,” are familiar to nearly everyone. Fewer people know “Memories” from Cats or “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, but millions do. You can add your own titles to the catalog. Just find a reason to include a few lines of a chorus in your description of a scene or plant them in a character’s thoughts—Music from a stereo or from elevator muzak or from the humming of a passing stranger. You know what will happen. Your readers will begin to hear that melody in their heads. You’ll have planted one of those ear worms—a song in your brain you can’t get rid of—and you’ll have engaged your audience at the most elemental level.
Jung talked about the sense of smell as the most integrative, the one that catalyzed all the other senses and the memory into action. I’m timid about contradicting the master of myth and psychology, but I do have the temerity to suggest that music is at least as powerful, entering through the ear (and by extension they eye via the printed page) and suffusing our entire beings with memory and emotion (Maybe Jung never heard “The Duke of Earl?” or “Twist and Shout?”). If you can do all that with a few words, why wouldn’t you? It’s surely worth a try. 

Biography—Carl R. Brush
Carl Brush has been writing since he could write, which is quite a long time now.
His historical thriller, The Second Vendetta has just been released by Solstice publishing, and a prequel, The Maxwell Vendetta is scheduled for release by Solstice in early 2013.
Journals in which his work has appeared include The Summerset Review, Right Hand Pointing, Blazevox, Storyglossia, Feathertale, and The Kiss Machine.  He has participated in the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
Carl lives with his wife in Oakland, California, where he enjoys the blessings of nearby children and grandchildren.


  1. Wow,Carl. Duke of Earl goes back a long, long time. I giggled when I read that, I remember it too. Yes, there is a lot of songs that most have heard and thanks for the idea of using them.

    Nice post, and congrats on your writing career.

    Lorrie Unites-Struiff

  2. Great topic! I completely understand what you mean about a song or piece of music taking you back to one memory or another, but I never thought to use that idea in one of my stories to affect the READER! I love it! Thanks Carl :)Oh, and thanks for the memories ;)

  3. Hey Lorrie and Andrea....thanks for stopping by. Wasn't his post a goodie1 Some great ideas....