Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Actors on Paper

Acting is a very mysterious profession to me. I truly have no idea how anyone can make an audience believe he/she is an 18th century aristocrat in one film and a 21st century parent in another. Yet I see actors who are chameleons all the time in the TV shows and movies I watch.

It wasn’t until I started writing that I realized writers are, to a certain extent, actors on paper. For every character created, a writer must figure out how that person would react under various situations: what they would do, what they would say, how they would feel. I can see how acting skills would be a big plus for any writer.

So I was particularly interested in a recent blog post on Ladies of Mystery, written by fellow SinC/LA member Sally Carpenter on using acting skills to create dramatic characters. ( Sally managed to simplify something that I’m sure is quite complex enough so I could understand how I could use it in my work.

I know writers who are or were actors. I’m sure they use their hard-earned skills when creating their characters and writing their books. I can also see how it’d be a big plus when asked to read from their latest novel.

Unfortunately, I have no such skills. Sure, I participated in plays in grade school and took a drama class in junior high but, believe me, that doesn’t count. I’ve heard of other writers who’ve taken a beginning acting class to help them with their work. At least one blog I read recommended it. (

I’ve considered it off and on but, really, I can’t see myself doing it because you see, I stutter. Not in the repetition of sounds kind of way but in the getting stuck on certain sounds at the beginning of words way. That means there can be a lot of unintended hesitations in my speech and why reading from my novel to an audience fills me with dread. (Although, being on a panel at a conference doesn’t bother me and giving a presentation on a subject I know doesn’t either. Go figure.) I have days I’m quite fluent and other days when I can’t get a single word out. I just can’t see myself actually taking an acting class.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get tips from blog posts and books written by people who’ve taken those classes and who also write.

Here are a couple of other posts I read recently on this subject that I found interesting:

I’m curious. Who out there has applied acting skills to their writing? Any tips to be shared?

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