Writer’s Music: Alan Silvestri

220px-beowulf_coverArt speaks with many tongues: language, imagery, and music. I often find the mix of two helps me create the third: for instance, the scores Ramin Djawadi wrote for Game of Thrones helped me shape the story arc of my YA fantasy Middler’s Pride. John Carpenter’s eerie synthesized melodies wracked up the tension in my short fiction “The Stray.” I listen to these compositions and stare at a landscape or portraits of those who inspire my characters, and find life moving forward: the characters speak, the land folds itself as a blanket Biff whips and bunches up to become a mountain.

Sometimes, though, a buffer remains: I can see the story, but I see it as an outside observer. Some stories can’t be told with that kind of distance. The narrator must be a character within the tale. Or, at the very least, the narrator must latch onto a character, out of sight from the others so as to catch all the unfiltered behaviors one flaunts when manners aren’t required.

In other words, I needed a more intimate point of view.

Enter Alan Silvestri.

Meredydd sees herself as a legend who only needs a chance to prove herself. She’s got skills and she sure as hell ain’t gonna keep quiet about’em. Here’s an excerpt from Middler’s Pride to show you what I mean:

Middler's PrideChapter 32

A day of sun did little to warm the river on their return back. It had been a gloomy wandering, with Tegan chattering like a squirrel, plucking plants and scribbling lines. Oh, she’d call to Meredydd for affirmation about the lushness of the bracken or mushrooms or apples, but that was about it. So Mer sparred the Beaumains in her mind’s eye, vanquishing the entire tribe in one fell swoop.

The trees cradled the sun by the time they returned to the fort, where the old gizzards from Blairlaid’s roundhouse leaned against the fort’s gate. Voices coughed at one another from inside.

Oh goody.

Stitchhead’s grin was infectious…seriously, Mer feared the breath coming out of that black-yellow mouth. “And a good evening, your ladyships. Care to dine in the roundhouse tonight?”

Tegan bit her lower lip. Oh for gods’ sake, she quivered, too. Lucky for her Mer stepped in front. “Only if you both can best me in a fight.”

Their laughs were just as disgusting as the captain’s the other morning, and more. Tegan’s eyes grew wider than Mer thought possible. Quivering with fear of disease seemed rather reasonable now. “Just you, m’lady, or your servant as well?”

What, like Meredydd needed help? “Certainly not. She needs a good rest after a long day of gathering.” There. Mer winked at Tegan. Not making her fight was surely a sign of friendship, right? So why did Tegan scowl so?


A small huddle of peasants followed Elle and Wynne from the tumain’s gate. Wynne dropped her armful of bundled something-or-another and stalked up. “Tegan’s a Shield Maiden.” She puffed up her chest at Mer like some sort of proud bird. “And so am I!” Yeah. Shield Maidens swallow their fear real slow, just like you, you brood mare, when you see who’s actually at the battle line. “S-so if you insult one of us, you insult us all. Right, Elle?”

Sure, call for her help.

But Elle was deep in talk with the charcoaler. She waved in Wynne’s direction. “You tell’em, Wynne.”

“Yeah!” So Wynne re-puffed and pouted her lip, because apparently, Shield Maidens can win by out-prettying the enemy. “Apologize, Guard!”

“Just”—Meredydd put the back of her hand to Wynne’s breastbone and pushed—“what do you think you’re doing? Honestly,” the sigh couldn’t be helped, “stop embarrassing yourself.”

The old gizzards laughed again. Well, Wynne was pretty pathetic looking.

I am, um, not like that in real life. At all. I still say little to nothing about my writing life with family or friends because I want to keep my writing free of patronizing head pats.

So here I am, this quiet, keep-your-head-down-and-do-your-job kind of person, trying to write about this pompous jerk of a girl who can’t shut up about herself. How can I possibly see the world through her eyes?

Ramin’s theme for Game of Thrones wasn’t quite cutting it in terms of character. I could see the story, sure, and where I wanted it to go, but I couldn’t see the world through Meredydd’s eyes. Through a legend’s eyes. I mean, she’s got an ego that could rival Beowulf’s.


beowulfI snatched up the movie from the library, and knew inside five minutes I had it: Beowulf’s theme was a door into Mer’s head. The dropped beats, the heavy guitar. The choir’s harmonies pound and break like waves against a lone ship in the storm. And damn, that brass! This is alpha music. Power music. Legend music. I listen to this, and I feel Meredydd’s superiority over the common folk. I know her skills. When she imagines what the bards will sing about her, I can imagine the harmony. Mer and Beowulf are both bound in pride, a connection I would have never known if not for Silvestri.


Listen, and witness the legend’s rise.





40 thoughts on “Writer’s Music: Alan Silvestri

  1. Thanks for the audio, saving a dyslexic further embarrassment. I am privileged. The narrator must be a character, or be within the tale. I agree. That is a problem I have never got around when I have a protest lyric buzzing. I need to write those lyrics first person, and before the thing I’m writing goes out of date, as a sort of narrator, but most often, cannot latch always on to my target/targets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I write non-fiction only, so it fascinate me how a fiction writer is able to conjure up the character, their traits and dialogue, the setting, the…the…the… My hat is off to you, and I’m glad that music and Beowulf are among your inspirations

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s great reading your thought process and how you arrive at the stages you’re at with your writing. That is some kick-ass anthemic, indefatigable piece of music. Listening to it is like plugging into a submarine battery. I’m ready for anything, after that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, right? Silvestri’s smart with that theme, too, mixing it in at major boasting and battle moments. But it was harder for me to work with those tracks because I could only picture Beowulf and not MY protagonist. It was relief to find the theme as its own track!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of the few blogs where I have almost as much fun reading the comments as I do the post. I related to what Peggy wrote: “I write non-fiction only, so it fascinates me how a fiction writer is able to conjure up the character, their traits, and dialogue, the setting,..” How I wish I could write fiction! While life is so crazy, it’s entirely possible I might want to give it a go later on, I doubt it. (I had one disastrous experience in a college creative writing class…)

    Skillbey’s “That is some kick-ass anthemic, indefatigable piece of music. Listening to it is like plugging into a submarine battery” Those are some packed-with-awesome lines, aren’t they?

    Re: Beowulf by Alan Silvestri

    I’d love to record an answering machine message with his composition blasting in the background!
    Hmmm, perhaps I could make up a faux business message:

    “Greetings! You have reached the office of Lady Lydia’s Revenge Services, where we crush and destroy whatever you choose!”

    You never cease to amaze me with your creations, you java-fueled mastermind!
    I pray you’re having a good Friday night, and I fervently hope that you do something FUN over the weekend!

    Your devoted kindred spirit,

    Lady Spy Dy

    p.s. did you know my middle name is Lydia?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Dear Lady SpyDy, the weekend’s been, well, up and down, but your words always got a way of putting a smile on my face. 🙂 Thank you for this virtual hug, and yes–don’t be afraid to try a story for your own! I was just asked by my good friend Rachel to stand up in her wedding. She’s planning on a color theme, so people can find their own dress. We got to laughing about finding the right color, and the lengths a bridesmaid will go through for the right outfit. And I realized for the first time ever that would be a hilarious bit of comedic chick-lit to write!
      And no, I didn’t know that was your middle name! xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the dissection of the process behind why you did what did to bring more out of your characters. Seeing the results of your introspection makes me want to do more of it with my own work. I’m sure my next project can be better because I made myself more aware of what worked or didn’t as I followed wherever inspiration led. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Writer’s Music: Ramin Djawadi II | Jean Lee's World

  7. Pingback: #writing #music: #PolarExpress by #AlanSilvestri | Jean Lee's World

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