The Revolving Door

Revolving doors are little pieces of magic within our humdrum little world.  Think about it.  How many doors do you get the urge to go through over and over and over?  How many doors encourage you to keep going in and out in an inescapable cycle?  On second thought, maybe they’re more like little Purgatoriums.

I was listening to this new-to-me artist the other day—Gotye.  The song below, in particular.  I couldn’t stop listening to the same song.  I played it over and over.  When it was done, I craved more.  It was just like a revolving door.

I dare you to listen and not get this song stuck like a splinter in your brain.  Double dog dare.

Because I’m obscenely over-analytical, I decided I needed to understand why it was so necessary that I keep listening to this song.  Also, I sort of needed to know why so that I could stop listening to it and wiggle my way out of the Gotye musical vortex.  I’m not claiming to be a musical genius here–or even a musical smarty or a musical normal person–but here’s what I came up with:

Peaks and Valleys. Like in any good story, there are high points and low points. The music builds to an awesome chorus, then snaps back down directly after. It’s like you have to listen to it over and over just to get to the peaks. And the peaks are made all the better because of the valleys you must traverse to get to them. It probably helps that there are only two real peaks, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough. You want more from the story and more of the melody. So you turn around and listen again.

Big Reveal. Well, it’s not a super big reveal, but when Kimbra comes in on this track, her pretty vocals are totally disconcerting. And the lyrics–showing the relationship from her POV–establish a whole other side to the song. It’s hard not to want to listen again, just so you can see how her side fits up against his side.

Ultimately, I thought that this analysis could be helpful in terms of writing.  How do you write a book that people want to read and re-read until their eyes fall out of their sockets? I certainly don’t claim to be answering that question, but maybe adhering to the revolving door techniques is a good start. 

Take Harry Potter, for instance. The series has exultant highs and seriously low lows–and readers are willing to go through the lows again just to revisit the highs. The highs are higher because the lows are lower. And there are plenty of big reveals throughout the series that readers can comb through text to find previously unrecognized hints.

So, what do you think?  Am I just making all of this up? What are some of your favorite revolving door stories and/or songs?


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  1. Kris Atkins says:

    Holy moly, that song rocks. And I think yeah, it’s awesome because of exactly why you said. I find that I return to songs over and over again for two reasons: They’re ridiculously or they’re hauntingly low. Or they do both. But the point is, they grip you emotionally and don’t let go.
    This is a great analogy! Seriously … making me think about writing in a whole new way.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m glad you agree! I was hoping that the connection wasn’t completely out in left field 😉 And I’m glad you like the song, too. I’m not sure if I’ve listened to any other songs in the past 48 hours, lol.

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