Spontaneous Like Jazz

There’s nothing like an all-star cast.

by Andy Scheer

Jeff Barnhart All Stars

Jeff Barnhart All Stars at the Evergreen Jazz Festival in Colorado.

Novelists could learn something from Jeff Barnhart, a pianist at Colorado’s most recent Evergreen Jazz Festival.

He had come to play solo or perform duets with his flute-playing wife. But for one set he was asked to pull together a band. He picked the best musicians from groups who had the slot available.

Those choices made, most of his work was done. No rehearsal needed.

All he had to do was name each tune and its key. The performers took it from there, playing in unison for the opener, then trading off improvisational solos. The notes arose spontaneously from each player’s experience and personality.

I’d witnessed each perform in their own bands, but in this combination they played even more like themselves.

If your story feels dry, perhaps your characters need a freer rein. Place them in an interesting situation and let them run with it.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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