The Soundtrack of SILVER BROWN

My Characters Have Visual Leitmotifs

Previous generations before mine grew up on Bible stories. For my generation, those Bible stories instantly became obsolete the second the first Star Wars movie debuted on the silver screen back in 1977. I must’ve seen all these movies at least a hundred times by now. All the different versions of them! In different languages! Backwards and forwards! With and without the pre-movie bong hit! (or edibles, if you’re referring to the first time I saw The Force Awakens). I’ll even commit the ultimate mortal sin here and say I enjoyed the prequel trilogy. It certainly could’ve done with a better actor in the Anakin Skywalker role and the complete elimination of everybody’s least favourite Gungan, and the scripts were in dire want of additional finessing in several key areas. But overall, the prequel trilogy has a certain charm to it, to say nothing of the stellar performance of Ian McDiarmid throughout. It admittedly took me a few viewings to warm up to Solo, though. When I first saw it, Lando Calrissian’s SJW droid co-pilot ruined it for me. She handily outdid the aforementioned Gungan in the obnoxiousness department; at least Jar Jar was way too much of a simpleton to have any kind of political agenda. Her only redeeming factor was that she only wasted about twenty minutes of the movie before she was destroyed.

John Williams’ musical score throughout the main saga (and the scores composed by worthy imitators for the Anthology films and the various spin-off TV shows) has been as indispensable a part of the Star Wars experience for me as lightsaber duels and the Force. In apparent homage to Wagnerian opera, every major character and organization within the saga has their own leitmotif in the musical score, and Mr. Williams, for his part, didn’t disappoint. I would personally opine that if you don’t have at least a passing familiarity with the Imperial March, you probably aren’t human…

If you’re an artist†, whatever you feed your head with on a regular basis has a way of inevitably manifesting itself in your own work. The chapters I’m editing at the moment are notable in that they are the first chapters in the book to be told from the viewpoint of a character other than Florys MacNab. Part of the challenge of writing a story from multiple viewpoints is the need to make it absolutely clear as mud to the reader which character is doing the narrating at any given time. I use a number of methodologies to accomplish this. For starters, every chapter of Silver Brown is titled and subtitled. If the viewpoint shifts away from Florys, this is usually indicated or implied in the chapter’s title. Or, in the case of Chapter Twelve, its subtitle.

Secondly, the characters have distinct personalities and use language in very different ways. Florys has led a very sheltered life and has a pronounced fascination with opulent luxury, and her choice of words and her particular manner of describing things is filtered through that lens. In contrast, Kent Fairholt’s narration style is earthier and generously peppered with vulgarities and sexual innuendo, and any chapter with him as the narrator (almost?) always begins with the phrase “Howdy, all you ugly motherfuckers!” – the word “motherfucker” in this context being a term of endearment, of course.

Third, in what I believe found its way into the manuscript as an unconscious nod to Star Wars, my major characters have their own leitmotifs. Sort of.

The “leitmotifs” in Silver Brown are visual as opposed to musical, and appear in the form of ornate section breaks of the type that frequently occur in narrative literature to indicate a transition from one scene to another within the same chapter. Florys MacNab has two such leitmotifs. If she’s in a good mood, or otherwise has a glimmer of optimism, a section break will look like this:


…but if she’s annoyed, frustrated or generally not in a good mood, it will look like this:


Kent Fairholt only has three moods: irritated, horny and fully contented, this last mood usually only occurring after he’s taken a long, satisfying drag from one of his cigars. But regardless of what kind of mood he’s in, his leitmotif always looks like this:


There is also another chapter I’ve written in epistolary format, which depicts a thoughtmessage exchange between high-ranking members of the SAAZMOL lawyerpriestly class (SAAZMOL being the Galactic Empire of this story, if there was ever one to be had). They’re discussing an utterly dastardly plot to have a certain someone bumped off, which I won’t elaborate on here and now. You’ll just have to wait until the vernal equinox to learn more about that. There’s a section break in that chapter, and it looks like this:


These are all the leitmotifs I have in the manuscript so far, although I’m sure there will be a least a few more of them. There’s another major character in the book called Sherman, who is a talking ferret. He might have a leitmotif too, but I haven’t decided what it will look like yet. Sherman has been programmed for combat and his way of thinking is very Mr. Spock-like, so his leitmotif will likely reflect that.

† If you create art of any sort, even if you only do it as a hobby, you’re an artist. Period.

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