Two Steps from Hell

The Power of Music

Its one of the most commonly asked questions, whether between readers, writers and bloggers or wanna-be novelists, like me. What inspired you?

That is a multi-part question isn't it? After all, taking an idea, putting it to paper and then having the imagination and the fortitude to see it through to completion requires inspiration all on its own. But so does the story that you are trying to create and grow.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have been near and dear to my heart since childhood. My earliest brushes with fantasy literature were with J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis. The Lord of the Rings and Narnia were some of the first books I remember reading with my parents, so when I set out to write my own story it only felt natural to start there.

The time had come to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak. It was time to write the story I wanted to read, and hope and pray that other people might want to read it too. After all, what better way to get what you want out of a book then take direct control of the project yourself right? Easier said than done.

Simply deciding to write a book is not enough. Something has to move you to want to write, otherwise the words will fall as flat as that "500 words or less essay" you hacked out for humanities senior year of High School. I had tried to write a book before. The story I wanted to tell inspired me. The setting I wanted to tell it in captivated me, but I was at a point of transition in my life and focus, not to mention free time were commodities in short supply.

Fast forward to present day, a couple years ago I mean. Life had settled out, the new phase was in full swing...the stage was set. Just like any other night I was checking in on new trailers for up and coming movies. Then it hit me. It wasn't so much the content of the movie trailer, because at this point I can't even remember what movie the trailer was for. It was the song. Even in its chopped, spliced and horrifically shortened and disfigured state the music grabbed me. I started to search. Back then we didn't have Sound Hound, or Shazam as back up. I had to do it the old fashioned way, I had to actually look...ugh.

Thanks to our friends at Google my search was much easier than it could have been. Thanks also go to the legion of people out there that will research, post, link and document anything and people reach around and pat yourselves on the back! The song was called Protectors of the Earth. It was two minutes and forty nine seconds of pure epicness, composed by Thomas Bergersen for the then little known Two Steps from Hell studios. Thanks to YouTube I was finally able to listen to the song in its entirety, and let me say, it did something.

I have never experienced anything like it. It was raw and spontaneous, the kind of inspiration that can drive you crazy, or drive you to write. So I wrote, and in just a few short, fevered hours I had written the first chapter of my book. The story felt like a wire frame however, so I kept on writing. Desperate to get it down, and also to see where my imagination would take me. One chapter turned into two, and then two into four and before I knew it I was sitting on fifty thousand words and hadn't really gone anywhere.

In six months I finished the first draft. That version of just over one hundred thousand words was a benchmark for me, I thought I had finished my task. But the story had changed so much over the course of writing I found that the first chapter I wrote, the seed of my inspiration was no longer a part of my book. So I went back to the very beginning and started a rewrite. The story needed filling in. There were side characters that had earned larger rolls and something called "continuity" that I guess I needed to worry about.

It took me the better part of a year to complete the next phase of writing, but what had started as a 100,000 word first draft had grown into a 245,000 word monster. The story had taken on a life of its own, and I would not be the one to hold it back. In the time since I have edited, revised and polished. I still have the first chapter I wrote, that darling seed planted by Bergersen's epic track. It no longer fit into the folds of my finished book, but that fact alone makes it no less important.

While you consider what might inspire you, give a listen to the song that started it all for me.