With the new year has come a new drive to work on my novel, and so far I’ve been as productive as I had planned to be in relation to it. By the end of the month, I should have finished Chapter 7 and the whole story should be in full flow. One of the areas that I constantly return to thinking about whenever I’m dealing with mine or others’ writing is the topic of inspiration. Where do you find it? How does it affect what you write and the way in which you write it? And this brings me neatly onto the topic of having a writing soundtrack.

Riders of the Light, one of the songs that helped to inspire this decision

One of the first decisions I made with respect to my novel was that I wanted each chapter title to reference a song from a video game. It didn’t necessarily need to be a game I had played but the song itself had to embody the tone of the chapter. I essentially created my novel’s very own soundtrack and frequently when I sit down to work on my novel, I put this soundtrack on to keep me motivated but also to put me in the mind-set of what I’m writing. So, chapters featuring a lot of action tend to be battle themes while highly emotional chapters tend towards a more melancholic sound. It sounds like a kind of obvious technique, but I’ve found it to be really helpful.

Kyoutenka or Heaven’s Mirror from Eternal Sonata

Should my novel eventually get published (and I hope it does one day), these chapter titles will also provide context to readers. They’ll be able to hear the emotions I’m trying to get across in the way that only music can convey. You can do a lot with language to engage readers on an emotional level, but there’s something especially deep-rooted when it comes to the way we react to sound and visuals. That in itself is the reason I believe my writing style and format tends towards the cinematic. In my head I can see the various camera angles I need to get my point across and I can hear the meticulously crafted soundtrack creating the perfect atmosphere for the scene.

Apotheosis from Journey

Due to my sometimes slightly fickle taste in music, my chapter titles/song inspirations are always subject to change should anything more fitting come along. A good example of this is the final chapter of the book. Originally it was going to be called Countless Farewells, based on the song from Final Fantasy XIII-2. While the title worked wonderfully and the song has a really solemn vibe, something just didn’t entirely sit right with me about it. Then I played Journey and happened to have a quick glance at the soundtrack while working on a previous blog post. The penultimate song on that soundtrack is called Apotheosis and it’s one of the greatest pieces of video game music I’ve ever heard. It’s a sweeping orchestral piece that has moments of quiet, an increasingly layered crescendo of strings and gongs, and fills you with such emotion it’s unreal. It’s a song of joy and sadness, truly bittersweet but so breath-taking. After looking up the definition of ‘apotheosis’ I knew that it was perfect for what I needed (and thankfully, the lack of narrative context for you guys ensures that the meaning of this for the story and its characters will remain a mystery until then).

Treasured Memories from Kingdom Hearts

There are a few chapters which will always be set in stone for me. The inclusion of music from games like Kingdom Hearts, Bayonetta, Ōkami, and so on is important to me because they have been such a huge inspiration to me for better or for worse in terms of style and themes. Some of my favourite tracks in this personal soundtrack are: Kingdom Heart’s Treasured Memories, Bayonetta’s Riders of the Light and Blood & Darkness, Romance from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Meaning of Birth and Mirrors from Tales of the Abyss, Intertwined from The Wonderful 101, Unfinished Battle and To The Last Battle from Xenoblade Chronicles, The Sun Rises from Ōkami, Always from Sonic Unleashed, and now most definitely Apotheosis from Journey.

There are a few chapters which I’m still somewhat uncertain about in terms of their titling (particularly Chapter 2: Calling as I’m not sure the song it’s based on from The World Ends With You does what I want it to.). Still, I have plenty of time to go back over everything before I even attempt to send this novel off to literary agents in the hope of getting published. After all, I’ve still got to write most of the novel itself and even the title is likely to change in some form by the time I’m done. Perhaps one day I’ll release the playlist I have of these tracks out into the wild for people to enjoy. Heck, it’s probably a personal convention of sorts that I’m going to keep in some form throughout the entire series of books I have planned.

And with that, I go once more unto the breach.