Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Bring In The Noise
I thought I’d talk about something I consider nearly integral to my writing process:
I’m pretty sure that the majority of writers have acoustic preferences when trying to write, and I am no different in that respect. In this post, I am covering some of I music that I find helpful when I’m desperately trying to summon another sentence through sheer willpower (heaven knows it can’t be skill). There are a few points I would like to bring up before I begin here, though.
1) This following post of music-related advice is what helps for ME—that is, a young adult science fiction writer. I have little-to-no idea if this will be helpful to you as there exists a broad spectrum of music that must correspond to each genre. 16th-century-drama people may prefer Beethoven, for instance, and modern romance novelette writers could work with just percolating hormones (for all I know). If you can write while listening to loud heavy metal, I envy your concentration. In any case, this is what I, personally, a mostly-sci-fi writer, prefer to have echoing in my skull next to the sentence fragments. Gonna keep reading? Very well. Just promise me you’ll do something constructive when you’re done here.
2) I will be writing about each of my musical preferences whilst under the influence of the very music about which I’m writing. If you look carefully at each of the sections, then, you may find signs of which albums to avoid. You’re welcome.
3) All of my recommendations are music without words. I have a hard time keeping my thoughts and the song lyrics separate, so it is just easier to listen to instrumentals.
4) I thought there was going to be a fourth point, but then there wasn’t. I guess the moral here is to more effectively plan out your writing.
Is all that clear? Didn’t think so. Anyway, here is the first album I favor while I’m typing something:
No, this isn’t an album. If you can find it on iTunes, you’re being ripped off. If I’m really trying to concentrate on what I’m doing or if I’m having a slow day, sometimes it helps to be in complete silence. But, especially if I’ve caught the elusive Writing Bug and I’m on a roll, I will listen to music. Here’s one choice…
This is my top recommendation for ambient music while writing science fiction. Portal Stories: Mel is a fan-made spinoff of the popular Portal video game franchise, and it’s the best spinoff of, well…anything I’ve seen. Don’t get me started on the game itself, or we’ll be here all day (I do wholeheartedly include Portal Stories: Mel in the Portal canon). The soundtrack, which I was able to isolate from the game files and copy into an iTunes album, is great background music for the sci-fi world you’re fleshing out. And, since the music was meant to be playing while you’re trying to solve (abnormally difficult!) Portal-style puzzles, it is ideal music for thinking and plotting your next move. It’s certainly been a favorite of mine as I revise my books. Get the soundtrack if you can—but only get the game itself if you’re a die-hard Portal fan. It may be free, but the gameplayers’ #1 complaint was that Portal Stories: Mel was way too hard (It took a while, but I solved all the puzzles completely on my own—before they released the wimpier story version). Okay, back to the music. Next…
It doesn’t sound very science-fiction-esque, but trust me, the soundtracks from the four (so far) Pirates movies are serious imagination fuel. I have a hard time choosing between all four of them, but if you put a gun to my head for some weird reason and commanded me to choose, I’d pick the score from the first movie. That happens to be the album I’m listening to right now (“The Medallion Calls” currently playing here). The first Pirates will always be the best, but I will grudgingly support a fifth movie if they keep up the orchestra. The guitar stuff in #3 was pushing it, though.
Again with the gun? Fine! If I have to choose a favorite, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is my favorite album of the three. It also isn’t terribly sci-fi, but it’s still imagination nitro. I’d strongly recommend it to fantasy writers as well.
I’m a (lazy) pianist, and if I had to choose a role model aside from my long-suffering former piano teacher, I would idolize George Winston. There is so much to choose from: Linus and Lucy, Autumn, Forest…it’s not a score for your battle scene, but DEAR HEAVEN it’s some good piano. I currently have “Japanese Music Box” from the Forest album on repeat—it’s peaceful yet slightly sinister (in my imagination).
Not kidding. I do actually find it helpful when I’m writing nearly anything, from a descriptive scene of a short story to a college book report. Also, as a Catholic, I can understand a fraction of the Latin. So if musically praying monks don’t give you the heebie-jeebies, give it a try. I have the Assumption album by the Benedictine Monks of Fontgombault Abbey, and it’s quite nice.
You and I both don’t have the time to go through the mishmash of other writing music I have (including I, Robot; some Star Wars, of course; Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock; Marvel’s soundtracks, especially Ironman…), but I hope this has been a slightly helpful look into the musical echoings that often result in a story. And now, since I’m done writing here, time to tune in to Def Leppard. See ya.