Posted by Superwench83
With so many writers here at Debuts and Reviews, and with the popularity which Writer Wednesday enjoys, I thought writing would be a good topic for my first non-review post. I can’t promise I’ll be as wonderful a guest as Justin Allen and the other authors who’ve joined the writing discussions in the past, but I’ll give it my best. And I hope that even if I’m not the world’s most fascinating guest, I’ll at least be mildly entertaining.
As many of you know, I am a writer. But you probably didn’t know that I’m an actress as well. I’m a serious hobbyist, you might say; I don’t usually get paid for my acting, but I do a lot of it. And one of the best things about acting is that it constantly teaches me how to be a better writer. Acting and fiction writing have so much in common. They’re both about character. Yes, there are other things involved, but when you strip them both to their essence, you’re left with character.
The first writing book I ever had summed up the similarites well. It said that when you’re acting, you have to get in your character’s head, while with writing, you have to be in every characters’ head. “So you’re head-hopping all the time.” It follows that one can help you with the other.
Being a serious actor, like being a serious writer, requires you to look deeply into your character and discover what makes him tick, what makes him unique, and what makes him a character to remember. But acting requires you to look at your character in a different way than many writers do. With acting, all your character’s emotions and thoughts must be demonstrated visually and audibly. There is no narrator filling in the gaps. You must walk, talk, think, move, breathe like you are the character because you have no other way to communicate that character to the audience. Have you ever done that with your written characters? Sure, we think about the way they move and talk. We get into their heads. But we generally don’t get into their bodies. We don’t physically become that character, don’t practice walking and moving the way they do. In fact, it sounds kind of strange to do that.
Yet you would be amazed at how much deeper your connection to a character is when you evaluate her with an actor’s eyes. You’ll learn things about your character which you never knew. The act of moving like your character will bring on a slew of new ways to describe the way she moves. It will open up doors that take you to the very essence of your character.
It’s the old principle of “Write what you know.” I know some writers consider these dirty words, btu they hold some truth. You can’t make a character convincing unless you know him. And thinking about your character with an actor’s perspective lets you know him on two levels instead of one. I know not everyone is going to go out and role-play as their characters, but the simple act of being more aware of your characters’ bodies and pretending that you’re in their skin brings out so many facets of character which might not come to you otherwise. Acting has always given me a fresh perspective on the writing process, and I’ve no doubt it will continue to do so. With each show I’m in, I get new inspiration.
It’s always good to look for outside inspiration for your writng craft. I love hearing what writers do aside from write–their jobs and hobbies–and see if I find a reflection of it in their work. I’m sure there are tons of ways for writers to find writing wisdom in the non-writing world. So what about you? How have your jobs or hobbies made you better writers?