Originally posted on 8/16/09 for the Charge of the Write Brigade.
The theme to “Edward Scissorhands” by Danny Elfman begins. My mind instantly travels to a dark Fall night. Eliza Pratchet walks purposefully with two children in red cloaks following behind. She’s taking them through the small colonial settlement for another lesson. Annabelle’s undead pulse quickens with excitement. Will they finally learn how to become bats?
At the point of the song marked 02:08 the soft eerie tempo starts to wave, like small bat wings. Ann and her brother flutter under the moonlight. Then around 02:59 the quirky march slows off to become a gentle ballad and I see her. I can’t help it. Her flowing red curls, the gleam of happiness in her crimson eyes, the gentle billowing of her blue dress and red cloak in the wind as she floats ten feet in the air. Annabelle’s inner peace, joy and love all moves through my soul.
That is what I see every time that song is played. Heck, even if we’re watching the movie, I see it. That theme will forever be linked in my mind as “Annabelle’s Theme”. If I could choose a composer for a Night Children movie it would be Danny Elfman, hands down.
Music inspires me. I can’t help it. Heck, I wouldn’t want to. It doesn’t matter if there are lyrics, or what style the music is. Certain songs send me off to other worlds.
My main antagonist, Dominic, commands attention as I listen to “The Kraken” from the “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.
“Love Song For A Vampire” by Annie Lennox puts me straight into Eliza’s mind as she cares for the dying children, ready to change them forever rather than let them die so young.
The list goes on and on. Some songs provide me with actual scenes from my series, like “Carpe Noctem” from the Dance of the Vampires soundtrack, “Journey to Transylvania” from the Van Helsing soundtrack by Alan Silvestri, the “Poltergeist” theme, “Libra Me” and the “Davy Jones” theme from that same Pirates movie.
Other songs create characters. “Original Sin” from the Dance of the Vampires soundtrack, “Moon Over Bourbon Street” by Sting, “Taste of Blood” by Mazzy Star, “Lucretia My Reflection” by Sisters of Mercy and “Transylvanian Concubine” by Rasputina have all created very interesting cast members.
Then there are those songs that simply put me in a vampire mood. “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMann, “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, “Go All The Way (Into The Twilight)” by Perry Farrell, “Bela Lugosi's Dead” by Bauhaus, “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde and of course the mack daddy of all vampire songs, “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach .
I’ve used enough quotation marks to allow this post to fly but I think I’ve made my point. Music can be a powerful tool for writers. Ever watch a movie and catch yourself leaning forward in your chair, not because of what’s going on, but because the music is telling you something bad is about to happen? Once again, the power of music.
It can show you the gentle parts of your story or the fast paced action sequence. Characters, settings and entire plots and subplots form in your mind as the songs continue. If you haven’t tried to use music before, give it a chance.
Think of the kinds of music you would expect to hear if your story was a movie. What songs really cover your theme? Then while listening to them, close your eyes and picture the scenes in your novel.
Not everyone is inspired by the same things, but if this works for you I’d suggest creating folder of music for your music player of choice. A soundtrack if you will. Then when you’re feeling writers block, play it and watch the scenes grow.
Sometimes when I need to be inspired, I’ll play the Vampire Folder on my media player.
I feel sorry for my coworkers. I have no clue why they haven’t yelled at me. Maybe because I turn it down? At home I have no fear. My wife and children support my dreams. My children are easily warped. I put on Scissorhands and they shout “It’s the Annabelle theme!