More Music To Write Novels By

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Winter Is…Continuing. MLK Weekend Is Coming. I am finally almost recovered from all the excitement of NaNoWriMo and the holiday season, so I’d like to write about the trickiness of soundtracking my last NaNo project.

The prologue and first chapter is basically about people gearing up for a party on a major religious festival, most of them unaware that an invasion is looming over their heads. From there, their world turns into a warzone, kind of a cross between Casablanca and Hotel Rwanda, and then turns into a mystical adventure in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or at least the third act of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So, I worked my way through the pre-invasion parts with no problem, using a variant of my standard writing playlist discussed here, and then a funny thing happened. As the story got relatively darker and sadder, the  Gothic but bouncy vibe of my Castlevania playlist stopped working for me.

Usually it has just enough energy to help me power through the sad stuff without spoiling the mood, but somehow all that swagger and melodrama started to grate on me. It seemed disrespectful of what the characters were going through. I tried my outlining/problem-solving playlist, and although that helped to some extent, it didn’t seem quite right.

So I turned to the playlist I had thrown together for my 2015 NaNoWriMo project (the gladiator/MMA fantasy project mentioned here.) When I had been prepping NaNo2015, my standard playlists hadn’t seem to fit it terribly well, until I threw together an unlikely mix of Ennio Morricone and Jerry Goldsmith tracks:

-From Morricone’s Red Sonja: Main Title and Varna’s Death.

-From Goldsmith’s Rio Conchos: Main Title and Where’s the Water.

-And then the whole of Goldsmith’s Medicine Man soundtrack.

That had worked great in 2015 and it worked fine for the remainder of the warzone scenes and also the mystical adventure scenes as well. The funny part, which I didn’t really notice until I was mostly done? Well, the mystical adventure subplot hinges on a tree-themed religious symbol, and the question of whether it is a real thing or just a philosophical concept.

And if you’ve seen Medicine Man, or even skimmed the track listing for the music, you know that the story revolves around a fictional tree species from the Amazon rain forest.

I hadn’t chosen the playlist with that in mind, but it was an interesting coincidence.

Happy Thanksgiving! Just Got Done with NaNoWriMo 2016!

Finished my novel-as in, finished writing the whole plot-with a total of around 52K words yesterday, about 11:30pm. This was not the easiest year I’ve ever done this, nor was it the hardest, but it was one of the less melodramatic. I went through some setbacks in terms of wordcount and stuff distracting me from my project, but I didn’t spend as much time being huffy and upset about it as I sometimes get, and I didn’t end up hating the novel project or the characters the way I sometimes do.

This was a prequel novel to the main Jaiya series; dealing with the parents of Vipin, the hero of Marrying A Monster. I enjoyed writing it, and right now I feel good about how it turned out. Catch is, now I have to polish up and publish the second and third book in the Jaiya series and write, polish and publish two more prequels before anyone gets to read this thing I just wrote.

Lessons learned: I need to not plan on being able to write ~4000 words per day on my days off from work. I can do that under exceptional circumstances, but I can’t do it on a consistent basis, and the times when I did it were the only times my wrists and elbows really protested.

I didn’t do as much dictating as I hoped, and the Windows Dictation tool proved to be very squirrelly. I used it for a couple of scenes early on. One scene I just found difficult to write because of what it was about (not ‘triggering’ or anything like that, just difficult), and in that case I found dictation helpful because it forced me to focus on getting the computer to understand what I was saying, half a sentence at a time, instead of getting hung up on the things about the scene I found difficult. The other section involved a lot of description of military hardware, and it was handy to have Google Images open on one screen (I use a dual screen setup)  and Word open in the other, and just talk out loud about what the hardware looked like to me and what it would be like to use.

Something which was amazingly helpful was the integration between OneDrive and the new version of MS Office I picked up over the summer. Save the main NaNoWriMo doc to OneDrive, open it up in Word just like any document on my hard-drive, and write away at home. Commute to work in the carpool, write between 80 and 200 words in Office Mobile using the same main NaNoWriMo doc on OneDrive. When I had free time at work (not that often), I’d try to fit in a Write or Die timed writing session, copy the results into a document on my work computer, email it home in the evening, copy/paste the new bits into main document. Those little niggling bits of writing really helped a lot on the days when I didn’t have time or energy left to write at home.

To those of you who also made it: congratulations! To those of you who are still plugging away: You can do it! And let me leave you with what were for me this year’s NaNoWriMo theme songs: Half The Battle, and Eastbound And Down.

 

NaNoWriMo: Music to Write Books To

I’ve talked a little bit about music as a productivity tool, particularly in regard to outlining.  Today I would like to talk about music to write books to.  I personally have trouble listening to music with lyrics when I am writing.  I just start thinking about the singer’s words instead of my own.  For this reason, I tend to favor movie soundtracks or video game soundtracks.

Modern movie soundtracks tend to have many sedate passages with no clear melody or rhythm so there are usually only one or two tracks that work with my writing play lists.  What I had found works the best when it comes to movie music, tends to be soundtracks written between 1965 and 1990.  There is usually a main theme catchy and memorable, repeated in several different variations across the soundtrack.  There may also be a memorable villain theme or a sweet love theme, which may appear several times.

I usually did not give enough face time to my villains for them to rate their own play list of villain themes, but sometimes a play list of love themes comes in handy.  Most of the time, I turn to a game soundtrack that is driven and adventurous, repetitive enough and catchy enough to keep the fingers galloping over the keyboard, sinister enough to include the villain, romantic enough for the love story.  This soundtrack is Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, by Michiru Yamane.

I like her soundtracks to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence even more as music than I do Curse of Darkness, but for me they’re too closely associated with my memories of playing the games when I was younger.  For some reason I never got around to Curse of Darkness, so the tunes are still fresh for me, and I can associate them with whatever I’m writing.  I particularly like these tracks: Baljhet Mountains, Garibaldi Courtyard, Garibaldi Temple, Mortavia Aqueduct, Mortavia Fountain, the Forest of Jigramunt, the Cave of Jigramunt, and Cordova Town. Most of the rest is too sad, too silly, or too harsh and dissonant for my tastes.