NaNo Day 3: Writing to Music

Sunday! I managed to get the requisite amount of work done on my genetics homework yesterday at around 8:00 PM, which meant that I then had time to actually relax with dinner and HGTV for an hour, then I joined Hannah in one of the dorm lounges to write for the rest of the evening. I stayed until 1:00 AM and managed to catch up to my goal for Saturday, despite being so behind from day one on Friday. So I wrote around 4,000 words yesterday.

Throughout the entire day, I had my November Splurge Movie Score playing on loop.

Every November, in honor of NaNo, I let myself buy one new movie score to write/do homework/live life to. This year’s Splurge is the score from Ender’s Game, composed by Steve Jablonsky. (I mentioned I really liked the music, right?)

I love how it’s got all of the louder, more in-your-face sounds of your usual scifi/action movie score, but also the softer, more contemplative cello weaving throughout it all to tie everything together. It fits my NaNo this year very well. I’m glad Ender’s Game came out at such a perfect time for me to get my hands on this for writing this November.

Here’s a preview of the score:

I write a lot to movie scores, since they’re good for not only helping get me in the mood I need for writing particular scenes (sad scene equals sad music, etc) but also for blocking out the rest of the world around me. Because I live in a college dorm, I always have neighbors and hallmates and friends going about, living their lives all around me. And that can be really distracting when I’m trying to focus on something. So: movie scores.

As a novel progresses, I find that I always end up getting attached to listening to one particular score–sometimes even just one song from it, on repeat–while writing. It’s funny because the movie that score is from could have absolutely nothing to do with my actual project, but the sound just makes the words flow somehow.

Here’s a list of the movie scores I’ve listened to for various novels. I definitely suggest checking them out, because they’re all beautiful.


1. Petra’s Driving School + Inception

I’ve mentioned before that my incomplete novel Petra’s Driving School was the precursor to Cadence. I absolutely COULD NOT work on that project without Inception (composed by the one and only Hans Zimmer) playing in the background. The story very much had a sort of desperate, mind-twisty feel to it, so I think that’s why I latched onto Inception so much with it. (Also, I’d just like to mention: Inception is one of my favorite scores EVER. It’s such beautiful, complicated music.) (Inception is also my favorite movie, so that might also have something to do with it.)


2. [title redacted for cultural appropriation] + Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

You’d think my dream novel, which actually has something in common with Inception (dreams), would flow well with that score. Nope. I wrote most of this novel to the tune of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II by Alexandre Desplat.


3. Cadence + Titanic

Yeah, I really don’t know. I mean–Titanic (by James Horner) is a gorgeous, brilliant score. Another one of my favorites. But the music has Irish influences and incorporates the sounds of a ship (one of my favorite moments in the song above begins at around 6:03–when I listen to the violins in that part, it sounds exactly like what I think an icy cold shiver would). Cadence takes place almost entirely on land, no boats or icebergs in sight. But I guess just something about the starcrossed love story and the desperation imposed by feeling restricted by your lot in life appeals to me. Cadence has a teeny, tiny bit of those themes woven throughout it as well.


4. The End Where I Begin (first attempt) + Man of Steel

I really only ever listened to “Sent Here For a Reason” from Man of Steel (composed by Hans Zimmer) while working on the last version of my current NaNo novel, The End Where I Begin, during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I’m not a big fan of the rest of the score, but that one song has such an inspiring, get-your-butt-to-work feel to it, so I’d play it on loop for hours at a time. It fit perfectly with the story I was trying to tell then. (Unfortunately, TEWIB just wasn’t working that way, so I had to abandon a lot of what I was doing with it in July and restart from scratch with the novel this month. It’s a much different story now. Hence Ender’s Game.)


So, those are some of the scores I’ve noveled to in the past. Other favorites include the scores from The Hunger Games, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, The Dark Knight trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man (whenever I got tired of Titanic with Cadence, I’d switch over to this one since it’s similar but just enough different to, you know, be different), Star Trek (2009), the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tron Legacy, the song “Aurora” by Hans Zimmer (I do homework a lot to this one–I know, I’m a terrible person), the cover of “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis by ThePianoGuys (that was another major dream novel song), and more recently the score from season one of Once Upon a Time.

Do you like to write to music? If so, what kinds? Do you like listening to score music? What are some of your favorites?

day 3

Off to work on the Spanish essay due this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it with enough time to actually write for a bit today!



NaNo Day 2: Ender’s Game

Jumping in with another warning from July 4, 2020: I don’t mention it in the post, but I tweeted about it at the time, which was that Orson Scott Card sold film rights to Ender’s Game in such a way that he didn’t see any money from the movie ticket sales (which was the only reason we felt comfortable supporting the movie). That said, these days I disagree with our decision to still see the movie–and especially my decision to recommend it–as often going to a movie leads to people buying books and, of course, Card still gets royalties from every copy of one of his books sold. And I really don’t (nor did I at the time) support Orson Scott Card, as his racist and homophobic views are incredibly harmful. So yeah. I’m leaving this post up for the time being, for posterity, but please heed this disclaimer.

My goal word count for yesterday was 5,000–for NaNoWriMo, you technically only need to do 1,667 words a day to make it to 50k by the end of the month, but because I have so much going on this week, I’m trying to spend the weekend getting ahead.

Unfortunately, I had a lot of distractions yesterday, so I only made it to about 2,800 words.

The leasing office from my apartment next year approved my application and sent me the lease (and then we had to figure out how the heck you were supposed to tell them who you wanted to room with, because, you know, that’s kind of important and they never asked). And then I also had class, and a genetics seminar (followed by a write up on it), and working on an internship application that I want to send out before the weekend’s over. Plus figuring out a tentative schedule for my classes next semester (downside: three science classes; upside: no Spanish), and what I need to do to apply to the study abroad program I want to do over the summer, and yeah. A lot of stuff.

So, all that happened yesterday, and it definitely limited my writing time. But what more than anything else kept me from NaNoing was the fact that it was November 1st, which meant that not only was it the first day of NaNoWriMo 2013, but also the release day of theĀ Ender’s Game movie. And NO. WAY. was I missing seeing Ender’s Game opening day.

Hannah‘s a big fan of the book, and I read it over the summer and loved it, so last night we bundled ourselves into a taxi and took the trip out to the nearest multiplex.

I had a mixture of high and low expectations for this movie. Absolutely ALL THE THINGS happen in the book, so I wasn’t sure how that would translate into film story-wise, but I also knew from the trailers that the visuals would be good and it had a good cast.

My reaction coming out of the theater: Ender’s Game is incredible.

In order to fit the story into a two hour film, they cut the entire political side of the book that focused on Valentine and Peter’s manipulating the governments back on Earth. Because of that, Peter is in the movie for about ten seconds and then just mentioned frequently throughout the rest of it, and Valentine’s only in it a little bit more. They also majorly cut down on the number of scenes in the battle room–they actually fight in there probably two times, I want to say–and condensed the ending into a shorter, much more streamlined sequence.

The one problem I really had with all the cutting was the fact that, at the end of the day, after the final battle, Ender is supposed to be alone. The kids he spends so much time with–the kids who are the same age as him–only view him as their leader, not a friend. So while they all go off together, Ender finds himself completely and utterly alone. But in the movie, that doesn’t happen. Instead, Petra stays with him. Throughout the entire film, they’ve cut that part of the character arcs: Instead of the others feeling no actual connection to Ender besides functioning below him in battles, they maintain a sense of camaraderie with him and Ender never seems to get too lonely.

But that’s just one change out of many and, altogether, despite all the cutting, the filmmakers were able to maintain the integrity of the feel and meaning behind Ender’s Game. They even found a way to run with the same non-pacing of the book. I don’t even know how to describe it exactly, but neither the novel nor movie have an obvious dramatic structure, and while that doesn’t generally work well for maintaining a rapid, gotta-keep-going pace, they manage to make you want the story to keep going and going and going. While reading, I had to keep turning the pages, I had to see what would happen next, but I also didn’t want the book to end, because I was enjoying it so much. Same thing happened with the film.

What makes me like the story so much is all the tactical stuff constantly going on in it–trying to keep up with all the characters’ agendas, strategizing, and who’s manipulating who. They focused the narrative of the film on this, so it was basically Ender’s Game with the side plots cut out. The music, cinematography, and script were all fantastic. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend going to see it.

(But also: I just could not take Moises Arias seriously as Bonzo. Hannah Montana has ruined me for that kid. He will always be Rico to me.)


day 2Coolio white board design courtesy Hannah.