Friday, November 15, 2013

Acting, Writing, And Lattes...

So you've heard of method acting, right? It's where actors try to get into the heads of their characters, almost BECOME them. It's a brilliant way to bring a character to life, I think, though it does come with it's hazards (I feel like someone should tell actors that trying to become a VILLAIN for the sake of your craft is a bad idea...And for the record, I will never watch that Batman movie that killed Heath Ledger. But I digress...).

As writers, we're told to get into our characters' heads. We have to make them seem real, 3D, and to do that, they almost have to become real to us.

In a completely sane, none-of-us-needs-a-shrink kind of way, of course. =)

Have you tried doing this for your character? Especially your main character? Do you ever walk around the grocery store and wonder which aisle your character would hit first? So no, you probably don't have a grocery store scene in your book. But that's not the point. The point is to learn EXTRA about your character, so that even though your reader only sees 75% of who they are, that 75% seems incredibly real. It's kind of like drawing, and using perspective (work with me here, okay?). You only draw the front of an apple, but it's rounded, shaded in all the right places, so that even though you can only see the front, part of you is SURE that the rest of the apple is there.

For the two of you that made sense to, you're welcome. For the rest of you, forget I said it and move on okay? Okay.

I'm bringing this up because last week I had a latte. To be precise, I had a grande latte with two raw sugars and whip. Which is not really my kind of Starbucks drink. I mean, I like it a lot, but usually I tend to go towards opposite ends of the spectrum. I either order a triple tall Americano, black (yum!) or something completely excessive like a Peppermint Mocha. But Norah, the main character in the contemporary romance I'm revising, only drinks lattes. Ever. Only. Lattes. Because Norah is stuck in a rut, she likes predictable, safe things, and a latte fits her personality perfectly.

So when I was struggling to get in her head last week, having a hard time getting her story to come out on the page, I had a latte. And sure, enough, a few sips in and it was easier to think like Norah. I wrote more words last week on her story than I have in a month or so, I'd guess. Because for me, it was all about getting in her head, method acting for a writer, if you will.

If you're not a coffee drinker, or your character isn't, here are some other random things that might help:

1. What does your character wear? If you're writing about a fashionista, maybe change out of the yoga pants (hey, I'm not judging, I love them too!) and be extra cute.
2. Is your character a health nut? Write while you're crunching on carrots or something. Unless you hate healthy food. In which case, change your character. ;) Haha.
3. Does your character have a favorite drink? A favorite food? Drink it. Eat it.
4. If your character loves the outdoors, write outside.
5. If your character is scared of the dark and you're writing suspense, write it in the dark. Living through it "with" your character will help you see the shadows they see, help you understand why they're afraid.
6. Do something your character likes to do. Go play sports, if they do. If she's a librarian, go sniff the insides of those books at the library.

What other ideas do you have for a random list like this?

Do you ever intentionally try to get into your character's head by being like them for a few minutes?

Disclaimer: I'm not crazy. I know my characters are not real...Honest... ;) At least, I mostly know this...


  1. Ummm...are you trying to tell me I'm in a rut?
    And by the way, a grande latte (plain--no sugar necessary) is the way to go. Just sayin'.

    I love this idea and the apple thing--just awesome. Now, excuse me. I need to go find a motorcyle to ride...(actually, I do want to do it especially for my character!)

  2. Part of the beauty of being a historian and a historical-fiction author is I can create characters I know truly could have existed in their eras. Perhaps by a different name, but with a very similar story.

    I always get into my character's head, as you put it. As my protagonists are generally male, this can be slightly difficult, but I do try! I can't wander around grocery stores or coffee shops for my genre, but I did learn medieval archery, swordplay, learn how to properly wrap a toga, and do crazy things like sniffing ink to capture the scent of a Roman library. :) So I am crazy too!