Epitomising Storytelling

When I grow up, I want to be the written equivalent of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

“Hold up,” you say. “That’s based on, uh, The War of the Worlds. It’s already something that’s… you know, been written.”

Yes it is, I’m aware, and thank the gods for granting us H.G. Wells. It’s not the tale in and of itself, though. Other stories have meant so much more to me as pure stories. The tension Jeff Wayne added with the aural experience is something moving. Nostalgic and magical.

The truth is, if it weren’t for Richard Burton’s narration, I would not understand exactly how I want my words to move together. His part as The Journalist gave me the clearest vision of what lilt and flow a story should have. His voice lives on as the ultimate measure of sentence structure and word choice for me. Credit in the hands of the author for penning the the script, but the performance of Mr. Burton gives it another life.

Add in the artful pauses, the rising pressure, sudden starts and stops in the music. All the emotion. The leitmotifs and sound design. That is merely flavour to the distinct narration which encompasses what I feel storytelling should be. If I can leave my readers with a sense of sincerity amidst all that otherworldliness the way this production has always left me, I will have succeeded.

When I grow up, I want my stories to be a late 1970’s concept album. It’s not the worst goal a lady can have.

~A

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The amazing, beautiful depression of book three

Book three of The Damning Moths Anecdota was actually what started me writing the series. I’ve known certain things about this book since the moment of conception; scenes which would be integral to the overall plot. From these seeds, much of the world lore and characterisation was born.

Last night while at work, a lot of book three happened in my head. Certain key scenes in books one and two carry over emotionally into the main points of the third story. Things were just right for me to follow these scenes and understand the direction of this story arc.

This morning, as usual, I sat down to work on The Damning Moths and hunted for some appropriate music. I came across the perfect song for the culmination of last night’s ideas, a song which just broke all of my plans to edit and demanded I write this book. It isn’t just one of those “make notes and get to it later”, this is all-consuming. Depending how you see the situation, this is either awesome, or really unfortunate, because I have written a lot, but edited very little.

I’m a big believer in taking what’s offered to you; if my mind is fixed on these parts of the third book, I might as well write them. And they have come out smoothly, without effort. The setting is all there, and I have reached “Flow”. Nothing like writing completely out of order! Also, this book is depressing as hell. You’re all forewarned. Book three. I knew it would be this way, but I have had a few moments of wondering how I can possibly love my characters so much when I’m doing this to them.

I am definitely a tragedienne; the one prone to choosing tragic roles. I revel in sad music, my favourite stories kill, maim, or impossibly wound my favourite characters, and this definitely shows in my writing. There’s a lot of struggle and sadness for my characters. It all makes me love them more, though. To have them experience loss and death and their own melancholic realisations. The actions of other characters. Challenges they don’t know if they can survive. And speckled in between are the moments of light and love and happiness to contrast all the parts which make me pause, close my eyes, and feel an echo of their pain. Writing is hugely emotional, especially when the right song is on repeat for hours at a time.

With things the way they are going, I should manage to get these scenes out of my system with plenty of time left to get back to editing, and then I have all this head start on the third novel… when I am finally meant to be writing it.

~A

A multimedia booklike experience

Ideally, I aim for some kind of cross-media experience to accompany my eventual book releases. I love the idea of artwork, music, and special edition items to go with my work. Pictures of the characters would be an absolute must, and maybe some action scenes or a couple of the more exciting locations drawn up, too. A website where people can download theme music for the different places and people in the stories. Pocket versions of my books where they are printed all small and super cute!

Ambitious, much?

Half of this, I could probably manage with a pile of help from my talented and creative husband (who is an illustrator and songwriter, among other things). Things like the pocket books, and including high quality art prints with sales would be a deal I would have to wrangle with my publisher. And we all know that publishers tend to have their “tried and true” method for making books, and it probably wouldn’t be seen as profitable enough to step outside the boundaries of normal publishing.

But a girl can dream. Goodness, half my profession is made of dreams and fantasy, so what’s another mad idea on top of the rest!

Since I am a big fan of videogames and cartoons/anime, as well as enjoying a good movie, I tend to think of my stories in a very visual mindset. If I had the opportunity to make a graphic novel, or an animated series from my books, I already have all the pictures in my head. To be totally honest, it would make me deliriously happy to animate some of my stories. Maybe one day I’ll put some of my other extensive hobbies on hold and get to work on that kind of project. In the meantime, I’ve still got new books to write, and they are eagerly demanding my attention. And I have nothing wrong with that!

~A

Writing for a song

The title of this entry may be misleading if you recall an old saying, which would refer to performing a task or acquiring goods for little money as “for a song”. However, I’m thinking more along the lines of listening to music while you write.

This is something I do with a fair degree of frequency. And it got me thinking about how I choose the songs which accompany my work. Do I choose them for the feelings they invoke, and how well they match the scene, or is my writing more directly affected by the tone of my music?

If I kept a record of the songs I’ve listened to, you might see a soundtrack to my stories. When I find the right song, I play it on repeat, anything up to several hours at a time. The melody fades into the background, the vocals become something I might hum along with, and the emotions expressed in those sounds become a state I can fall into. There have been a couple of really important tunes which helped shape some of my favourite scenes, but funny enough, listening to those songs now will not transport me into the story. Only the words on the page can really do that.

With this is mind, I think the answer is that I utilise specific music to keep me in the right mindset. Yes, this sometimes means I seek out very depressing music (sometimes I have to write incredibly depressing scenes!), and wallow until I’ve either finished the scene, or grown so sick of the song I have to find something else.

For the curious among you, my most recent listening habits have actually been slightly different from usual, maybe because I have been doing more editing and less creating. I’ve been streaming a radio station that plays music from the 1920s and 1930s. Although it’s a slightly earlier era than in the game, it makes me feel like I’m still playing Fallout 3. And that is good!

Signing off with an update! I re-discovered why I loved the yWriter software (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html), created by Simon Haynes, author of the sci-fi comedy series Hal Spacejock. It’s organised and packed with useful tabs and features. I do tend to get distracted easily (hence I forgot how much I appreciated this gem), but I should be able to get back into the habit of using this awesome program for all my writing. I imported my current project into yWriter, and got a lot of work done. Nothing like seeing your progress clearly laid out.

~A