Skip to content
Home » How to Riff in Creative Writing

How to Riff in Creative Writing

When it comes to composing and storytelling, words are definitely the king and queen. However, a new form of storytelling is emerging and it doesn’t rely on words as much as it relies on music and sound. This new form is known as “rhythm and “riffing ”, and it allows for a form of communication that is unique and vibrant. It is known that great songs usually have a really strong riff at the beginning, and this is something that you should also include in your own writing. So how does one go about riffing in creative writing? Let’s find out.

The Basics

Just like with any other form of music, guitar playing in creative writing relies on a few basic techniques and skills. These include “picking ”, “changing ”, “hammer-on ”, “pull ”, and “trill ”. Picking is when you fret the strings of the guitar or bass guitar. This creates a specific tone and sound that you can employ in your compositions. If you are just starting out, it is recommended that you practice alone or with somebody who knows a lot more about music than you do. This will help you improve as a guitar player in no time.

Changing is when you vary the tension and/or the repetition of the notes that you play. This can create a sense of uncertainty and suspense in your listeners, or it can serve as a device to propel the story forward. The hammer-on is when you hit a string with your finger while playing, causing the string to vibrate and ring out. This is a great tool to add emphasis to your riffs. The pull is when you pull a chord on the guitar to create a specific tone and sound. Finally, the trill is when you play rapid-fire notes, usually using your hands and not your feet, creating a sense of energy and thrill in your listeners. The best part of riffing in creative writing is that all of this can be done while playing along with the music that you are listening to or using as a background track.


Now that you understand the basics, you can start experimenting with different techniques to create the best possible riffs for your compositions. A good technique for adding tension and drama to your music is to use “double stops ”. If you play a C note, but miss the G string, this will cause a dissonance in your listeners. They will now expect this note to resolve itself to a G, however, you don’t have to necessarily use double stops in every case. Simply miss a string while playing and let the pitch fluctuate based on the string that you skip. This is a great way to create anticipation, worry, or even ecstasy in your listeners.

Another great technique for adding tension is to use “hammer-on ” and “pull ” together. For example, if you are playing an A note and you want to add extra weight to it, you can press down on the fretboard with your palm while playing the A note. This will cause the pitch to momentarily rise, as the string is suddenly more taut. You can do the same thing on the subsequent note, causing a dissonance that is as unpleasant as it is effective. While this may be difficult to do, it is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

As always, your mileage may vary, but these are some of the basics that you need to know to begin experimenting with riffing in creative writing. Don’t be afraid to try out new techniques, as long as you recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Ultimately, the great thing about musical instruments is that they allow you to constantly improve and develop your techniques, so that you can create the best possible riffs for your stories and compositions.