Newsletter March 2024 - I've got to move it move it

And, you know, if I was going to compose the music, I really needed to spruce up the video with a complete story...

Newsletter March 2024 - I've got to move it move it
First panels of a Star Trek comic I attempted.

Welcome to the March newsletter, where I'll tell you about how my writing journey progressed all the way to music composition! But first...

In Case You Missed It

This month I posted:
A suspense short on a boat
A blog about how my writing evolved into techo thrillers
A techno thriller short story about flying
A techno thriller/suspense short story about a moon colony

Writing Progress

I recently found a series of lectures by Brandon Sanderson on YouTube about writing science fiction and fantasy. They contain a lot of great information, and they helped me focus my plotting. One of the hard parts is deciding which ideas to leave out. His advice led me to settle on three story arcs to interweave: the overall heist adventure, the main character's personal development, and a sub-plot which is essentially a buddy-cop type story between two of the side characters.

Plotting finished this month, and I've since focused on fleshing out the characters, their motivations, and their limitations. One fun part with character creation is thinking about actors who might play them. I usually picture scenes in my head, and then it's just a matter of writing down what happened. Having a vivid image of each character helps that process. (Don't tell anyone, but Michael Peña is the lead contender for one of the buddy cop roles.)

Phase 3 of My Writing Life - Moving Pictures

After my kids grew out of the picture book phase, I decided to try my hand at script writing. I have a friend who has directed a few movies, and when I shared Choosing Fate with him, he thought it had potential to be turned into a short film. I set about learning how to write a script and began work. After years of book writing, it was challenging to tell a story with pretty much all dialog. Since I picture scenes in my head, I thought it would be a natural fit, but I had a hard time conveying all the technical info and inner monologue via dialog.

That one fell by the wayside, but I kept noodling with script ideas. I came up with a Star Trek idea for a story about a crew of xenoarcheologists. My grand idea was to write the story, design the ship and characters, model everything in Blender, and then create an animation. I quickly realized that animation is a whole nother thing and that project might never get done.

My kid was into drawing at the time, so we decided to switch gears and turn the story into a comic book. I made a few test pages, and it worked great, so I began converting the movie script into comic book script format. Then my kid got busy with school and other hobbies, so it didn't pan out.

But then, I discovered a new form of writing: music composition. Stick with me, it's all about to come together. I sing in a community choir called Music Education For Everyone, and last season, the director, Alistair Hamilton, offered a music theory and composition class. As part of my earlier animation efforts, I created a short video of my spaceship, but the music was generic "sci fi" background music I found online. It was the one part of the video that I hadn't created, and it didn't really fit. Now I had an opportunity to write an original score and really make it my own!

Over the course of three months, I dove into a crash course on music theory. I digitally composed several practice melodies and exported the music with sampled instruments, so it sounds like it's played by an orchestra. Starting from a simple chord progression, I built up a full song, and then broke out the chords into different parts for the wind and brass instruments. Brass is key, because after listening to the main themes over and over, I realized that Trek loves trumpets. After that, I played with the rhythm until it felt right and synced up with the key moments in the video. Once the song versions stopped causing Alistair to wince, I knew it was ready.

And, you know, since I composed the music, I really needed to spruce up the video with a complete story, rather than just some glamor shots of the ship. I had to keep it to a minute, so I took my script and focused it down to the very core of the idea. And in the end, I think I managed to capture the idea well. I'm super proud of the final version, which I posted on YouTube. The design, modeling, animation, directing, and, most of all, the music. Enjoy!

Next month, I'll post the original script as well as the score I composed. Stay tuned!

Todd Edwards © . All rights reserved.