Nightlights Soundtrack

OK, the post I was planning to write has been postponed due to a lovely and wonderful houseguest. But! I’ve been planning for a while to make a post about the music I listen to while writing Nightlights, along with the process of building a soundtrack and the way I use it.

I like silence when I write, often.

Unfortunately, I have a few problems.

  1. I don’t live alone
  2. I have (actual, professionally-diagnosed) ADHD.
  3. I’m not always in the mood to write when I need to write.

Music helps me with all of these problems. Music I’m extremely familiar with becomes a kind of white noise, serving the dual purpose of obscuring other sounds and eating up a distraction track in my brain. And if I turn it on when I’m not in my writing headspace, the strong habitual association and imagery associated with the music tows me where I need to be.

For Nightlights, I started with a song or two I vaguely associated with characters or events in Nightlights, and fed them into Pandora. Then I listened to the station created while outlining Nightlights, and grabbed other songs it suggested. Pandora is a lot better than relying on broadcast radio stations, which is how I used to do this. I’ll choose songs based on similar musical elements, or the lyrics, or even just a few lines in the lyrics that really feel perfect for a theme or concept. Then I listen to the soundtrack a lot until I know it like the back of my hand.

Sometimes songs show up in multiple soundtracks if I really like them or they touch on multiple concepts.

My favorite part of having soundtracks is that I feel like if I pick them early enough, they actually influence the story, because they’ve wormed their way so deeply inside my head.

Below, find my soundtrack, as currently ordered by my player! I’ve tried to include a few lines that capture why I picked the song, as well as a link to a performance of the song.

Angels (Within Temptation)
“No remorse ’cause I still remember
your smile as you tore me apart.”
Break (Three Days Grace) (Note: I love the whole sound of this song.)
“I’ve tried, but nothing is working
I won’t stop, I won’t say I’ve had enough.”
Comatose (Skillet)
“I hate living without you, dead wrong to ever doubt you
But my demons lay in waiting, tempting me away.”
From Heads Unworthy (Rise Against) (Note: This is also a Matchbox Girls setting song, but I didn’t discover it until way too late.)
“I’m not after fame and fortune, I’m after you
When I’ve served my time I swear I will come back for you.”
I Will Not Bow (Breaking Benjamin) (Note: While this wasn’t the original seed song for Pandora, I think of it as the core track now.)
“I don’t want to change the world, I just want to leave it colder
Light the fuse and burn it up, take the path that leads to nowhere,
All is lost again, but I’m not giving in.”
Still Waiting (Sum 41)
“This can’t last forever, time won’t make things better,
I feel so alone”
Savior (Rise Against)
“that’s when she said I don’t hate you boy,
I just want to save you while there’s still something left to save”
Animal I Have Become (Three Days Grace)
“Help me believe it’s not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal”
Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People) (Note: Lyrically, this song is quite disturbing. It caught my attention because of the sound and just a hint of the what’s in the lyrics.)
“Robert’s got a quick hand,
He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan.”
Blurry (Puddle of Mudd)
“Everyone is changing, there’s no one left that’s real
To make up your own ending, and let me know just how you feel.”
Feel Good, Inc” (Gorillaz)  (Note: Okay, I generically love this song.  And I loved it first for ‘Hahahahaha’.)
“Yo, we gonna ghost town this motown
with yo sound, you’re in the blink,
you’re gonna bite the dust, can’t fight with us
with yo sound, you kill the INC”
Monster (Skillet)
“I keep it caged but I can’t control it,
‘Cause if I let him out, he’ll tear me up, break me down.”
I Hate Everything About You (Three Days Grace) (Note: This song was the seed song. Oddly enough, it was originally for a different story entirely, which I still hope to write someday. The story has evolved a lot since then but the song still serves a small purpose.”
“Why do I love you?”
Lights Out (Breaking Benjamin)
“Now you want to take me down
as if I even care
I am the monster in your head”
Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind)
“And I wish it could get back there, some place back there
in the place we used to start.”
Holiday (Green Day)
“Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
“How can one little street
swallow so many lives?”

I beg to dream and differ…

Slowly but steadily I’m accumulating a pile of rejections. It isn’t the ideal situation but it’s better than not trying. I think earlier today I was planning on whining about this. Since then I’ve convinced myself to dive back into my new project and found something much more interesting to talk about.

I usually tend to worry a lot about how things work in my scenes and settings. Are characters behaving realistically? Are they using technology logically? My magic is always extremely well-defined, with rules and limits and origins and consequences figured out ahead of time. I like the kinds of settings that result from thinking about those details. And I sometimes get totally hung up on such details, unable to write more until I’ve answered some question and fully considered its ramifications.

Today I finished reviewing the zeroth draft for the New Project. I managed to write it without worrying too much about many of the technical details. And I didn’t get hung up on figuring out those details because the scenes they mattered in seemed pretty solid.

This felt really strange! But I’ve read plenty of books where the details were left unexplained, the ramifications unconsidered. So maybe this could work? Is anybody else this crazed about technical details?

I’m working on a small piece of fiction based around the ramifications of a certain bit of magical technology, by the way. It might be done in time for Friday Flash.

Gotta Keep Moving

All right. I’ve sent off a batch of queries and my goal is to keep a fixed number of queries in the air. I’m not sending them all out at once because– what if inspiration strikes or I get feedback that I use to make the project better? It seems reasonable to me.

Also, researching each agent is time-consuming and I have a kid I neglect too much as it is.

Anyhow, now that there are queries and a synopsis and a partial and a completed novel, it’s time to head into other projects.

My ‘vacation writing’ really didn’t happen. Too bad for me. I had a chance and I wasted it meebling about queries. Now it’s time to start on Serial 13 again.

I have a 0th draft. I have two tasks next: to develop the locations where I want the scenes to take place, and to develop the voice of the narrator.

These are both tasks I’m not great at, and have wanted to work on for a while. Because I’m not a very visual writer, my scenes tend to lack much in the way of eye candy or even a strong sense of place. But I think I can fix that if I work on developing the locations before I write the scene– the few times I’ve written solid visual scenes, I’ve imagined it strongly before ever starting to type. So I want to go through each scene outline and figure out where they take place, then separately write strong descriptions that I can reference when writing the scenes themselves.

I’ve also spent a long time wishing that I had a stronger voice as a writer. I think I must have a voice; I just can’t see the forest for the trees. But I really admire books with a strong narrator voice– specifically third person stories where the narrator still manages to feel like a recognizable individual. Based on my experience writing for games, I think this is something I can achieve. I just need to have a point of view that isn’t firmly entrenched deep inside the protagonist’s head. So I want to experiment writing some material from various perspectives and figure out the voice I want to use with Serial 13. I have a tiny fragment of prose that I wrote as part of my initial scribble which I’ll use as a starting place.

Oh, and one more task: I need to go through the 0th draft and revise it, just like one would any other draft. I’m sure it’s full of just as much crazy stuff and bullshit as all of my other initial drafts. I’m a bit nervous about that and I think I need to really get myself into the paranormal anime-esque YA mindset again. Hmm.