Techniques to Enrich Your Writing
by Michelle Hoppe
Do you often find yourself envisioning your book in your head? Are you the sort of writer who closes her eyes to try and 'see' her characters on a stage, playing out their dialogue and actions? If you have, have you also found yourself wondering afterward whether or not your sanity is still in tact? Relax, you're not alone. As I learned recently in a workshop given by fellow writers who are also actresses, acting and writing go hand-in-hand.
Authors can use basic acting techniques in their writing to hone their skills. For example, using the five senses sets the scene both on stage and on paper. But because it is easier to see scenes on a screen, this presents a challenge for writers. They must convey this same setting on paper and have it as visual as a movie production.
All stage settings have a foreground and background. The
foreground in a romance, however, is the relationship between the hero and
heroine. The background is what is
going on around them. Levels and
direction in a scene will empower characters.
For example, someone facing the audience, or reader, has more power than
someone turned at a 45-degree angle, just as that person has more power than
someone at a 90-degree angle. Use
positioning for focus.
Other things to keep in mind while writing effective
Some basic acting techniques which can be transferred to writing are:
One way to expand on these lessons is to take an improvisation class. This can also help strengthen your writing, as well as help in other areas of your life. It helps you come up with ideas, expand on ideas, and think on your feet. It also helps with character development. You can take obvious action one step further to the illogical to create interesting characters.
Some improvisation rules that will help strengthen your writing are:
To translate these rules into writing a romance, remember to have the hero/heroine focus on his/her partner, not himself. Don't listen to the judgmental voice in your head. It will stifle you. Be in the moment and don't judge yourself or your characters.
Here are some Improvisation suggestions to use as writing exercises:
Just as an actor focuses on his scene, a writer needs to focus on her writing. A successful writer can't be thinking of other things or be distracted as emotion changes the perception of what the writer wants to do.
NOTE: This workshop was given at a Chicago-North RWA meeting by Ruth Kaufman and Kelly Garcia. Credit for the content of this article goes to them. Thank you.
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Copyright 2002, Michelle J.Hoppe