From Songs, A World Was Born

by Casey Cooper
published in Writing

In Professor Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, The “Ainulindalë” or “Music of the Ainur” tells of the creation of the Universe. telling how the Ainur or “holy ones”, a class of angelic beings, perform songs and great music of Middle-earth prefiguring the creation of the material universe, Eä, including Middle-Earth.

I don’t know if this ever crossed my mind when I was recording my fantasy concept CD, “The Glory Road,” but it was probably lurking somewhere in my subconscious.

I worked six months on recording my CD and then I spent an amount of time listening to it. I listened to it a lot; driving in my car, in the shower, etc. It didn’t take me very long to come to the conclusion that this was a musical outline for a story. I had always wanted to write, and this seemed like a good place to start. I began looking online for information on writing and eventually wound up at diyMFA 101. 

Before I started writing, I took a vacation back home to Michigan, where I have my roots. I visited with old friends and looked around to see how things had changed in the ten years I had been away. I spent an entire evening talking with an old friend about the story I was planning on writing, from the prelude to the conclusion. He was most enthusiastic, which was very good to hear. I had read that one of the authors I have greatly enjoyed and admired, Larry Niven, always made it a point to talk with a small, select group of friends about any story he planned to write. If his friends do not like the story, then he doesn’t write the book. With this reinforcement of my story concept, I went back home determined to begin writing my book.

Not too far along in the writing process, I came to the realization that my musical outline was not for a single book, but for a series. I then pictured a trilogy with another book, a pure sci-fi, as a prelude. 

After a year of writing, I finished my first draft of the book. It was very big, too big. I knew some of my scenes would need filling out in the revision and that would make it even bigger. Some would get trimmed and cut, but not enough. I was sitting at over one hundred and eighty thousand words. Something drastic would have to be done. Even if I edited out twenty percent and didn’t add anything my book would be over one hundred and forty-five thousand words. For a first-time author, even with fantasy, which is expected to be towards the longer side, everything I read or was told said I would still be over twenty thousand words too long. And I knew there were scenes I had used as placeholders that had to be filled out.

I did a second reading, looking for things I could reduce or remove. It couldn’t be done and keep all the elements I wanted with the story. So the thought occurred to me, could I cut this body of work in two and make two books? Two cohesive books that would each standalone? I decided I could.

As I had decided that it was to be a dynamic series, it seemed to me that the second book did not have to be as standalone as the first, but to interest agents and publishers, the first book would need to be a complete story.

I ended up writing an additional scene and doing some juggling with the parts already written and the ensuing timeline, and after a few months, I had my second draft of just under one hundred thousand words and a first draft of my second book in the series at a little over one hundred K words.

The first two books of my series fit in with the first half of my CD.

In the process, I now had the notes for my prelude and my third and fourth books in the dynamic series. Book four would bring the series to the same climax and conclusion as my CD.

I also made the discovery that along the way, the book that was going to fit in between the two I had written and the final book of the series had no musical counterpart on the CD. The first half of my CD was told in the first two books and the last half of the CD was the final book. The really ironic part of this is the working title I have for book three is “The Song of the Owl.” Isn’t life strange?

As John Sebastian said, “The magic’s in the music and the music’s in me. Do you believe in magic?”

Casey Cooper is the son of two teachers, the grandson of a university professor on one side, and a jazz drummer on the other. Somehow, he escaped teaching, but not music. After retiring from his day job, just in time for COVID, he devoted his first year of ‘freedom’ to self-recording a musical concept album. In his second year, he turned to writing.

An avid reader, he averages a book a week. The usual fare is Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Sometimes Action/Adventure. He has been seen reading all kinds of things, from fairytales to super-string theory.

He holds guest citizenship in The Forgotten Realms, Oz, Pellucidar, and on the Discworld. He lives alone with his two trusty cats. Liv, a lavender tortoiseshell, and Riley, an orange tiger.

You can follow him on Facebook.

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