A post by Doris McCraw
Actors have ways of finding their character when preparing for a performance. As an acting coach it is my job to help them learn the easiest way for them to access that information. Many of the tips and tricks used by the actor translate to writing also.
Let’s start with how you find your character. Some actors create by finding what the psychological make up of the character they are to play. What makes them tick? How do they think and react to those around them? How does the character sound, is their voice low or high, soft or strident? Many times clues are found in the script itself.
Other actors find their character from the way they perceive how the characters body moves. Is it stiff or fluid in movement? Do they dress conservatively or bohemian? Do they march when they walk or glide as if on a cloud? What kind of shoes to they wear?
Once the actor makes their choices it is on to delivering the lines. Many new students believe that you just say the lines as written with emotion and clarity. They don’t understand the depth that they are capable of bringing to those lines.
If you want to be believed it is necessary to understand what has happened before even saying your first line. If it is the first line in the script why are you saying what you are saying? What is the subtext? What is your biography? The audience may never or need to know, but it will inform your whole performance.
Now you may ask yourself how does any of this relate to my writing? Take a look at some of the questions actors ask themselves when preparing for a performance. If in your writing you answer those questions you may find that your characters and story take on a life of their own. The stories become more than just lines and settings, they become flesh and blood. If they do that for you, imagine what they will do for your readers.
If you would like to study more about the actors process the following books are a good read.
“Acting on Film” by Michael Caine
“The Power of the Actor” by Ivana Chubbuck
“Getting Into Character” by Brandilyn Collins
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