The Soundtrack

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

One thing I discuss with my fellow writers is. Music is yet another form of inspiration, of course, but I find there’s another use for it – making soundtracks for your works.

There’s something about making an inspirational soundtrack to remind you of the mood, the characters, etc. You can turn it on, tune in, and have the music help carry your writing forward. I’ve seen these “inspiration tracks” used by writers and artists for most of my life – going back to a D&D game where the DM found his game a theme song.

But I’ve found a related exercise that helps me with my writing: imagining the “Soundtrack Band.”

Imagine your novel, or comic, and so on gets an adaption as a movie or TV show. The producers want you to pick a band that will do the opening and closing themes, and maybe even other music. You even get a chance to pick some of their past songs.

You just get to pick one band.

T.M. Revolution and Thunderbolt Fantasy inspired this exercise, and if you haven’t heard their songs for Thunderbolt Fantasy, do so. Actually, just watch all of Thunderbolt Fantasy.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my series, the Avenoth novels. What band would I choose if I got an anime or a Netflix adaption of my techno-fantasy series? That made me ask a lot of questions.

  • What band could “embody” the setting? What band “sounds right?”
  • What band had songs that fit the setting – and, of course, could easily be repurposed without them having to record something new?
  • What band would probably “get” the setting and be into doing a soundtrack for it?

In my case, the answer came quickly – Powerman 5000. Their techno-metal sound fits, though their latest novel isn’t quite to my tastes. Some of their songs also were inspirations for my novels anyway: “When Worlds Collide,” “Make Us Insane,” and “Supervillain.”

This let me imagine an audio feel for my novels, and that solidified their feel. It was a useful exercise.

So next time you’re playing with that soundtrack, ask what band you might want to do songs in an imaginary adaption.

(If Powerman 5000 is going a different direction, I’ll be talking to T.M. Revolution and Lenny Code Fiction.)

Steven Savage

The Inevitable Bowie Post

I wanted to say something about David Bowie. I really did. Let’s face it, it’s hard to shut me up.

But basically, his work and its impact stands on its own. So go and watch one of his films you haven’t seen or listen to one of his songs you haven’t heard. Go find what he did.

Then go do something.

  • Steve

Link Roundup 8/21/2013

Seems we’ve got a lot of interesting news lately.

Disney/ABC is having layoffs.  Interesting but not unexpected as the company is obviously changing focus.

Did you know we export garbage in the US for recycling?  Did you know China isn’t taking some of our stuff anymore?  Politics, science, and recycling intersect in a must read article that will remind you just how complex the global economy is.

Food for thought.  Can a donation model work for streaming music?

Al-Jazeera America’s strategy includes a return to news styles we’re kind of missing.  I’ve been concerned that America’s quality of news – sensationalistic, specialized, and for short attention spans – leaves us vulnerable in a global market.  Sure Al-Jazeera has reputation issues now, but what if they overcome them?

– Steven Savage