December, 2016 Newsletter - Wendy Writes Information For You

Post date: Dec 29, 2016 6:38:6 AM

Lights, Camera, Action for Writers

The more authors I interview, the more I see an interesting link between acting skills and writing skills. Authors like Boyd Morrison, (Tyler Lockett Thriller series, and other books including collaborations with Clive Cussler) are actively acting in stage plays.

Novelists who are also actors have several advantages. They have an awareness of orchestration of a scene including how characters move around a setting, and how to describe the choreography of a fight scene, or a love scene. As an actor it’s especially necessary to map out where everyone is in a scene and how they all move. Having this sense is invaluable to a writer in creating a setting and scene for their readers.

Another advantage for the acting writer is the sense of timing for a scene, and the pacing. An actor’s delivery is enhanced with the timing of delivery, and the knowledge of their interactions with other actors on the stage. In writing this natural rhythm, and the pacing of tension and conflict is what keeps readers reading.

Acting writers take advantage of their skills for deep character analysis and understanding, and they can apply this to their writing to develop memorable and believable characters that resonate for their readers. For example, as Colin Firth said, “Whenever you take on playing a villain, he has to cease to be a villain to you. If you judge this man by his time, he’s doing very little wrong.” And as John Lithgow said, “The most exciting acting tends to happen in roles you never thought you could play.”

Not all writers have the acting talent to appear before audiences, and not all have been bitten by the acting bug. I encourage you though to spend some time off your chair and on your feet enacting your scenes in your living room, or family room, or kitchen, or backyard, or wherever you’re comfortable. See how it feels to move as your character and to become your character in a scene. You may discover some very helpful insights that you can then capture on the page. At the least, it’s very important that you read your words out loud to really hear them. But I encourage you to act out scenes as your different characters; you’ll learn a lot from them.

Leonard Nimoy – “The true creation of a being, a character other than one’s self, for me is comparable to a mystical or spiritual experience. To stand in another person’s shoes. To see as he sees, to hear as he hears. To know what he knows, and to do all this with a sense of control, a mastering of the dramatic moment, there must be more than a ‘natural talent’ at work.”

Gene Wilder Tribute

“As they say in Corsica . . . Goodbye” – Gene Wilder

A treasured actor, comedian, and talent, Gene Wilder was lost to us this year of 2016. He was another actor who was also a talented writer. Along with his autobiography, he also wrote some deeply memorable and dramatic novels. You’ll see his beautiful writing is built on a foundation of acting skill and talent. You can’t go wrong with his novels, but I’m recommending My French Whore, A Love Story at this link.

Book Recommendation – Shakespeare’s Rebel

Prime example of a bestselling author who has also been a working actor is C. C. Humphreys. His book Shakespeare’s Rebel is my latest book recommendation that you can read at this link. This novel is an excellent example of memorable and believable characters, and his written description of the choreography of the fast paced sword play in this swashbuckler is excellent for the reader. If you read his novel with his acting background in mind, I think you’ll see many ways that he’s incorporated both talents.

Editing Note

Don’t Start a Novel with a Cat

You want to be very conscious about your characters, and your use of characters. Every character that you take the time and effort to include needs to execute a purpose for you as the writer, to tell the story. Think of each of your characters as actors that you have to hire and pay to be in your story. What’s your return on investment? Are your characters executing the purpose you need them to fulfill? You’re not interested in gratuitous characters, you want purposeful characters.

I’m especially including in this editing note those small role characters such as the “walk on roles.” The barista who serves one of your main characters, what does that barista need to deliver? Is she a way to reflect the mood of the heroine, or show the rudeness of another? How do you want to effectively use these smaller roles to tell your story? Decide this consciously.

Pets and animals are also incredible characters and souls for you to include in your stories, but a certified editor has advised, “Don’t start a novel with a cat.” Of course, there are exceptions to every “rule.” The reader will give you precious little time at the start of your novel to hook their interest. You want to show a sympathetic character. You may do that by having a character show a kindness to a cat, but that needs to be about your main character, not about the cat.

Got it? Purrfect.

New Podcasts -

Kendall and Cooper Talk Mysteries, Killing Thyme with Leslie Budewitz -

Kendall and Cooper Talk Mysteries with Boyd Morrison -