Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On being an editor, and what I'm looking for...

Now that the first round of submissions for FlagShip is over (okay, technically, you still have about an hour to get your stuff in as of this posting), I realize a couple of things.
First, having someone respond positively to the feedback you give them, and hopefully write a stronger story because of it is a fantastic feeling.
Second, it seems to be a lot easier to write doom, gloom, and cynicism than it is to write optimistic and uplifting. Maybe it's the culture at large, maybe it's the writerly mindset. Whatever it is, it makes me realize that it's easier to write angst and sturm and drang than not. And a sense of wonder? Whoof. You might as well be asking for someone to turn lead into gold.
Maybe as an editor, I wasn't entirely clear on what I'm looking for in my short story fiction. So I'm going to explain the best way I know how... by using COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF ANIME MUSIC.
Okay, okay, I know. I've totally lost it. But hear me out. One of the things that really helped me during the last two NaNos, and continues to help me out when I sit down to write, is music. In '08, every day when I sat down, I had a playlist that ran as I wrote. It started with Muse's Hysteria. And every time I heard that bass riff kick off, I saw in my head the closing scene of the book. It conveyed emotion, and got me in the right head space.
So, in an effort to help you writers out, here's the head space that I'm looking for - the emotional cues I'm looking for with FlagShip. The links below will go to YouTube. I do that, because I know that if you're reading this on a portable device, chances are VERY good, that you'll be able to get to the music. But... (and this is key), I don't want you looking at the video. Click the link, and minimize the window. Or close your eyes. The clips are all going to be short. I want you to respond to the music - not necessarily the visuals, although I will probably be referencing story elements as we go down the list.
Number one - DAYS, from Eureka Seven. And Nirvash ZERO, also from Eureka Seven. DAYS captures the feeling of the show perfectly. It's sweet. It's energetic. I can't help but smile when I hear it. On one level, Eureka 7 is about youth, and first love, and idealism, and all these great deep classical themes. On another, it's about people who surf energy currents in the air. Occasionally doing so in giant robots. Which may or may not have a life of their own. It's weird. It's beyond that, it's insane.
It's beautiful. Nirvash ZERO captures a moment in the second episode, when for a moment it seems like all hope is lost, and then... well... the music starts. And it's driving, and relentless, and powerful. You can taste the win. And what leads in to that moment in the episode kind of ties into this idea of giving, and sacrifice, and being willing to do extraordinary things for someone important to you. And it's hard to explain in words. But the music gets you there. As an editor, as a reader, I'm looking for THAT.
All right, that's the first pair. Now for something a little different. It can't all be surfing robots and victory marches, right?
Tank! from Cowboy Bebop. R.O.D The TV Opening 1 - from R.O.D the TV. Both of these have sort of a jazzy, action feel to them. Tank! has a big, brash, brassy feel to it, and it hustles. R.O.D's opening has the same kind of feel, but just a little different. It doesn't beat you over the head at first, then it grabs you. It has bits where it pulls back and leaves you almost floating, then picks you back up and moves you right along. They both have an almost noir feel to them, but it's not overwhelming. More Mike Hammer than Sunset Boulevard. Give me that sense - that sense of adventure, of action, of pursuit! As an editor, as a reader, THAT's what I'm looking for.
Last pair. And this one is new to me. I heard this opening theme, and I found myself going back and listening to it again - it was different, but it had the sense of adventure, the optimistic sound, all of it.
Gun Sword opening from Gun Sword. It's still got the driving rhythm, the insistent pace of the bass. But there's all this crazy stuff going on with the vocals. And the machine gun brass brass that leads into the ba-DUM, ba-DUM, ba-DUM, ba-DUM!
And also from Gun Sword, Dann of Thursday. It's along the same lines as the Nirvash piece, but not quite as clearly triumphant.
That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for the kind of feeling that these pieces of music evoke. Find a way to do that.

1 comment:

  1. Music to inspire while writing is something I use on occasion. I don't think it's too crazy as a technique. I'll check these out.