What book should you read next? What words should you write next? Whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, you need look no further for ideas and pointers to help you make up your mind. You might even get your next book for free--and signed by the author!

Sometimes I even give away my own novels. My Inspirational romances and devotionals are pictured below and are detailed on my Books page. You can always count on a trace of humor in my novels and nonfiction. Whether you're a teen or a woman mature in years, I think these stories will ring true.

Read on, and discover some of today's most appealing Christian novelists, their latest books, and their words of wisdom and imagination. Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mammi Mia, That's the Ticket!

Last night I joined some friends at the stage show, Mamma Mia, and learned something interesting about context in our writing.

For anyone who isn't familiar with Mamma Mia, it premiered nearly a decade ago on the London stage and has been an international smash ever since. While the plot has nothing to do with the 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA, the group's music fuels the energy in the story about a young woman's search for her real father. The movie version releases in a few weeks, and it looks fantastic in the trailers.

Now about that context thing. I was never a big fan of ABBA's music when they were a hot pop group, but the other night I was completely thrilled with the harmonies and vitality in the songs. Of course, I was a teen in the 70s and way too cool and deep to embrace giddy, hooky songs like "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen." But I think the music's positive effect on me last night had less to do with my no longer being the slightest bit cool and more to do with the context of the music.

In a recent interview Judy Craymer, Mamma Mia's producer, said she thought ABBA's music was "very theatrical." She thus got the idea to create a musical around the songs.

Yes. That's why the show hooked me while the albums had not. When presented in the context of a Broadway musical, the songs rang true. They might not have suited the rock 'n' roll era (in my know-it-all teenaged opinion), but they were perfect for the anticipated tone of the theatrical stage.

And so it must be in our writing. When we decide to write in a particular genre, or about a particular era, or to a particular reading audience, we need to consider the tone of our writing. If we fail to match our tone with the setting, something's going to ring false for the reader. I recently read a blog post by author Camy Tang in which she described her need to switch from the "chick-lit mindset" of her first three novels to a more suspense-riddled tone for her new romantic suspense manuscript.

How can we be sure our tone hits the mark? We immerse ourselves in "the mark." We read books in the genre we're targeting. We watch films set in the timeframe and atmosphere to which we aspire. We plunge into examples of tone done well until its nuances rub off on us. Until it feels natural to write in a particular way for a particular effect. We rush to our computers and pour it all out until we need further immersion. Then we share our work with critique partners and ask them to tune a keen ear for proper tone.

This may sound like common sense. But sometimes we simply don't understand why something sounds wrong until we hear it done right.

And the flip side of this context thing? Maybe you write best in a particular tone and should change genres to match your best writing voice. The tone of the ABBA songs wasn't changed; the genre was, from Rock to Broadway. If you simply write best in a particular tone or voice, you might want to consider changing your genre. But that's a song for another day.

What about you? What's your current genre, and what are the nuances of your writing that fit your genre? Your comments could help others.


Stacey said...

I haven't seen "Mamma Mia", yet. But I've heard good things... Please enter my name to win a copy of your book. Thank you.


Bethany said...

Interesting thoughts. Kind of reminds me of the verse Paul wrote about becoming all things to all men...to the Greeks, he became as Greeks, to the Jews, a Jew. Fitting into each group as needed in order to reach them for Christ.


donna said...

I'm not familiar at all with the movie or show, but it looks cute!

Enter me once again!

Stephanie Reed said...

Ouch! Guess I wasn't cool in the seventies, when I was also a teen! But I was in choir, so I appreciated the harmonies way back then, especially Fernando and Take a Chance on Me.

And yes, yet another entry for Beach Dreams. Great way to get comments for all your posts--I'll have to remember that when I give away one of my books.

stef dot reed at gmail dot com

Lucie said...

Now that I know a little bit more about that movie, "Mamma Mia" I think I will check it out.

I also thought that your insight on the subject of keeping the tone to your writing correct (for the genre) was helpful.

Please enter me to win a copy of your book, "Beach Dreams". And, again, thank you!



bigguysmama said...

Well, I was in my early adolescence in the 70's so I LOVED ABBA. After the 70's, not so much.
At my work Dancing Queen comes over the PA occasionally and you can definitely count on me singing along. :o) Have totally wanted to see Mamma Mia for the past 7 yrs. Maybe some day. I liked how you tied it in with writing. :o)

In Him,
Mimi B

mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

luv2read said...

Okay I saw the play in London 2 years ago. I enjoyed the music also, but was not impressed with the the theme of a girl trying to figure out which of the 3 men her mother slept with was her father. Blunt I know. But as for genres as a reader not a writer. I recently read the book Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh. Chick-lit is not my usually type of reading since I am a serious kind of gal. Yep, outlining, research, and a good game of scrabble get me excited. However, her book had so much spiritual depth to it as fun as it was to read I am now quite open to reading that genre. Therefore, I'm entering the drawing for Beach Dreams.

cespiers said...

i'm not that familiar with the show or movie but it looks cute.
enter me yet again!


bigguysmama said...

Trish, you will not believe this... The girls and I are watching the end of The Bachelorette and all of a sudden Dancing Queen started playing. I hadn't seen the preview yet! What crazy timing. :o) Just had to share that.

Mimi B

Trish Perry said...

And, see, Mimi, now I'm loving that music! That's a funny coincidence. I think once the movie releases, we're going to hear ABBA playing a lot more on the radio.

Audra Elizabeth said...

I really like some of your tips about writing. Thanks.

and please enter me for the book contest again!


ForstRose said...

Please add another entry for me.

As for Genre and tone, I'm actually more a reader than a writer in terms of fiction anyway but love romance, historicals and fantasy, some chick-lit when I need something less serious to balance the intensity of some of the romances and historicals and now I'm getting into cozy mysteries and some suspense stuff.

Amazing what reviewing books will do in terms of broadening your scope when it comes to reading material LOL!


Peggy Blann Phifer said...

Hi, Trish, me again. Just covering all my chances at your book drawing.

I really would love to get a copy of Beach Dreams. REALLY (grin)


kalea_kane said...

I had a similar opinion about Abba when I was a teenager. They were definitely a little hokey though I have to say I adored the song "The Winner Takes It All." As a young teen it really touched an emotional side of me. That being said...I have not seen Mama Mia yet. I do plan to check out the film at some point, because it looks pretty cute. I also would like to see the stage version, but there aren't too many stage musicals going on in Prescott. I really should have caught more when I was in RI and NY.
I enjoyed your analysis of the way the music fits the musical genre, and I really learned something about doing the same with your writing. I am taking baby steps with writing right now. I have to say...I am too much of a newbie to have a genre let alone a voice. Blogs like yours, Camy Tang's and countless others have really been helpful to me.

Thank you. :)


PS...Can you enter me to win Beach Dreams?



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