I recently started yet another new project (a guy's gotta diversify his portfolio, even a writing portfolio) and I wanted to share with you something I've been using as a bit of a tool to write the project. Before I get to that, let me tell you a little bit about the project.

Again, it's for a comic book. This one's in the style commonly called film noir. If you don't know what that is, the term is French for "black film." It's the type of film with a detective in a fedora and trench coat. There's always a dame in a red dress, probably a lounge singer, that the form labels a femme fatale, which is just a fancy way of saying "dangerous woman."

It's the type of film you'd see Humphrey Bogart in. It's some of the types of films Hitchcock would make. It's black and white with harsh shadows. Everything is tainted by the darkness, in this case literally and figuratively.

And that's what I'm going to write, along with everything else I'm going to write.

But let's get back to that tool I was talking about. It's a song. "Summertime" by Chris Botti. And it is perfect for this type of thing. Go ahead, pull it up on YouTube while you finish reading.

It sounds like 2am on the hottest night of the year. Just after a sprinkle of rain, enough to wet the ground but not break the humidity.

It sounds like a murder victim under a lone streetlight. Cops, of course, have roped off the area, but no one's up at this hour to disturb the scene anyway. That, too, means no witnesses.

It sounds like the detective in his fedora and trench coat, a cigarette dangling from his lips and cold coffee in his hands because they woke him from a restless sleep to come to the scene. He's probably still a little hungover from binging on the whiskey he swore he'd give up a lifetime ago.

Maybe he knows the vic. Maybe he knows the perp. Maybe he is the perp. Any or all of them could be true.

It sounds like his gravelly voice narrating the tale for us as we follow him to the darkest pits of human depravity. Of the seedy underbelly of an otherwise harmless city.

And that, my friends, is exactly what so much music should sound like.