Music as Inspiration

It’s no earth-shattering revelation that writers glean inspiration from music. Either from setting the right mood to stimulating the flow of words by reducing distraction, music can be a tremendous lubricant for the creative process. While I have previously mentioned that early in my drafting process I require very little sensory input to function at maximum output, I do yet find a place for music as my muse.

My weapons of choice are movie scores… that being the orchestral score, rather than the “soundtrack” as a list of songs appearing in the movie. Ever since I first began writing as a freshman in high school (how can it be that long ago?), I have spent hours listening to orchestral scores, re-creating scenes in my head to match the musical dynamics. Scores paint vivid musical pictures, and I find it difficult NOT to pre-write as I hear them.

The score that really blew my top off creatively was James Horner’s score to the movie Glory. I wore out that cassette creating a novel in my head all about a Russian youth leaving home to help fight the Golden Horde. It took me several years to actually watch the film, and to be honest, it couldn’t live up to the emotional investment I had in the storyline I had tailored to the music.

I would repeat this with Michael Kamen’s score for The Last of the Mohicans, the Vangelis score for 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and many others… none of which actually made it to paper. The most recent muse for my writing has been Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy, orchestrated by Joseph Trapanese, which guided my brain through several action scenes for Omnipotence.

That being said, my current project, The Curse Merchant, has no such orchestral endowment. For the first time, one of my long-format projects has an honest to God soundtrack. The music that stirs my mind for Dorian Lake is mostly darkly reflective with blue notes and lyrical content that hints at doom and unrest. I will often cue up the songs for my daily commute, and will literally rehearse scenes out loud.

Thank God I drive alone!

One response to “Music as Inspiration

  1. Music is huge. Other great scores for me are the Hans Zimmer area of Spirit and Hunt for Red October and the new Star Trek score.

    Rehearsing the scenes is great, especially for dialogue. If you are having trouble over the words, your characters probably will to. Great idea.

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