Monday, September 28, 2015

Novel Bits: Japanese Theater Soundtracks and their Effects on World Building and Character Development

Cover of "SPECTER"
I've said before in like a post waaaayyyy back when that I didn't really want to divulge too much information about the novel I have (still forming) in my head. I mentioned that I have tons of world building completed but there's still so much more that continues to form in my head. I love what I already have fully developed and it definitely helps fuel me toward wanting to develop the other aspects of this world just as much. I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned working with different soundtracks when developing a character or when world building. One of the first soundtracks I ever spoke about was the soundtrack for the Japanese play, Lilium. It's a spectacular play and I would love to say, "oh, here's a link to buy the soundtrack" but I can't. The only way to get the soundtrack is to buy the DVD. Although I would totally recommend buying the DVD because again, it's an amazing play, but 1. it's entirely in Japanese without subtitles and 2. It's quite pricey. But regardless, I do own the DVD and therefore, also own the soundtrack. This is a good thing, a very good thing because it has provided me with countless inspiration.

Ok, so why are we talking about Japanese theater and my novel? Well because some of the best and most elaborate world building I have done has come about from my listening to soundtracks from plays made by Suemitsu, the man who wrote and directed Lilium. By itself, Lilium is amazing - sad,  scary and mind twisting all at once. But, paired with its predecessor TRUMP, Lilium becomes the second installment in a world where the truth is muddied by the perceptions of each individual character. TRUMP makes it clear that Lilium is not only sad - it's tragic; it's not only scary - it's terrifying. I have not watched TRUMP in its entirety because I plan to watch it all once I buy the DVD. I will admit to watching the first 15 minutes (which are up on Youtube) a good 30 or so times. I understand basically everything going on and I can't wait to watch the rest of it for sure. But just the music played in those first 15 minutes has helped me detail a setting and visualize a character and his/her character traits. It was just recently that I learned a third installment had been released and that all together, about 6 or so plays are meant to be released in the series. The third installment is SPECTER and it's just my luck that I happened upon a preview of the soundtrack on Youtube. And basically: IT'S AMAZING. Go ahead, click on the soundtrack and give it a listen, I'll wait :)

Cover of TRUMP
SPECTER's soundtrack really drives home the solitude portrayed throughout this play series and how the implications of immortality torment the characters. It perfectly reflects the solitude and sense of tragedy that I myself feel when trying to write scenes that involve certain characters whom I feel pity for. Every story must contain secrets because that is what drives a reader to read through the pages: the need to figure out the secrets the author has and will eventually resolve once the story comes to an end. It's part of the reason series such as Harry Potter are so fascinating; on the surface, the author seems to tell you everything about the story, but you know there's something more to this and the need to know is what propels you to read until the final book. The characters whose traits and background were influenced by the soundtracks for TRUMP, LILIUM and SPECTER are shorter novels in of themselves. They carry secrets that impact everyone around them and their silence is ultimately what tortures them day and night. Secrets create a world of mystery and also of loneliness.

It's these secrets that I love about these characters and the world in which they live in. It's my belief that these secrets are what breathe life into my characters (because who doesn't have secrets?) and drive my plot forward. While Suemitsu's plays revolve around characters who are vampires, my story has no vampire not does it question immortality. My characters are human beings, struggling to accept their own human nature while also attempting to move forward with their lives. These characters are constantly tormented by the aftermath of their pasts. It's not that in their pasts they were terrible killers or anything like that, they literally did nothing. And the fact that they did nothing is what torments them.

LILIUM characters in the opening sequence
Clearly, this was a post to unwind a bit for me. I have so many thoughts crowding my head whenever I listen to these soundtracks, it's complete chaos. I wanted to write down a bit of what happens during my creative process. I will not say that I have added a lot of new things to my storyline (since I really haven't written anything in forever) but I would say it helps to set my mood for writing or simply for envisioning a scene I had already written. It's like a movie plays in my head using my characters and these soundtracks and this is one the greatest joys I have found from listening. I can't wait to get back to writing soon (I will be doing NaNiWriMo in November!)

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