On Writing: Coming Back to Music

One thing I didn’t expect to revisit while writing the new MU story is to visualize the scenes I’m writing based on a specific song.

I used that sparingly during the original writing of the Bridgetown Trilogy; there are very few scenes where, at least in my mind, a specific track should be playing.  The final scene of A Division of Souls having Failure’s “Daylight” playing.  A scene of Alec Poe driving down a highway with Supreme Beings of Leisure’s “Strangelove Addiction” playing.  And so on.  I never mentioned them in the book outright, of course.  The scene was never based specifically on the song, it was only background that happened to fit.

Come 2015, I’m writing the second chapter of the new story, in which a character has stepped into Light and is soaring over the extended metropolitan sprawl of Bridgetown, sensing the presence of everyone he flies past as he heads towards Mirades Tower.  I’m about a page in, when Dot Allison’s “Message Personnel” pops into my head.  I play the song through with its peaks and valleys of psychedelic ambiance, and the next thing I know…the entire rest of the scene plays out crystal clear in my head, just waiting to be written.

I haven’t written a scene in that manner since…well, since I wrote the Infamous War Novel almost entirely in that fashion, nearly thirty years ago.

I found myself doing it again just the other day, as I was writing the start of the new chapter while flying home from London.  The in-flight music selection happened to include Led Zeppelin’s recent remaster of Physical Graffiti, which meant I got to listen to my favorite LZ track, “Kashmir”, in all its epic glory.  I’d used the song in the IWN, so it was to some surprise that the lurching bombast of the track somehow lent itself to the scene I was writing that moment, in which another character has ascended towards a higher aspect of the kiralla (a dragonlike form meant to be one of the highest forms of spirit in physical form), and she’s reveling in the fact that she’d ascended all on her own without training or ritual.  The track screams BIG, and so does the scene.

It’s kind of weird to revisit this old writing process of mine that helped me finish my very first novel when I was a teenager, especially when I wasn’t expecting it.  I’m not planning to lean on this style exclusively, though now that I know it still works to some extent, I’m not exactly going to avoid it either.  Whatever works to get the scene done how I’m visualizing it.

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