Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Author, Actor, Director

~Sia McKye~

Many writers will tell you they see their stories unfold in their head, much like a movie.

Is that the case with you?

I attended a writer’s workshop recently that discussed using theatrical techniques when writing your story. It was presented by an actress and author (Leanna Renee Hieber) and was a fun workshop. I came away with better visual ideas for my writing.

The author is not only writer, but also:

  • Cinematographer and as such you’re in charge of the setting, picture, mood, and ambiance of each scene in the story.
  • Director whose job it is to set the staging, pacing, and viewpoint
  • Actor. As an actor you have to delve into the character. What’s the character’s motivation, how should the lines be delivered, how do you use the dialogue to show your character and his/her intent?

  • Marketing Director and as such what’s your movie poster quote? The one line pitch or tag line? You’re a brand so how do you present you and your work?

I’ve gotten stuck now and then, while writing. You know when you know something is wrong but you can’t quite figure out what. It’s frustrating. I had a light bulb moment as I was listening to the speaker. She said never forget your characters. They are what drive the book. If we’re writing, editing, or have gotten stuck ask yourself as the actor:

  • What’s my motivation?

  • How am I going to get what I want (intention and tactics)?

  • What’s the conflict? Or what’s keeping me from getting what I want?

  • What’s my environment and how is it affecting me? This is context.

My light bulb moment was, wow, I could use this for character and dialogue but I could also use this when crafting or editing my scene—especially if I’m stuck. It would help me look at each character within the scene to see if they’re reacting true to their GMC and is the scene being written to the best dramatic advantage.

Do you use any of these techniques when you write or edit?


Tonya Kappes said...

I use a little bit of all of those. I like to use a collage of items during that WIP. I can only concentrate on one work at a time.
I also like to do girly things while I am writing, buy new stationary, take day trips, more picture taking etc. b/c this allows my creativity/muse to flow.
I am glad your light bulb went off!!!

Elle J Rossi said...

Good morning, Sia.

I don't know what happened this morning but the coffee I brewed was horrendous. Do you think I could get a cup of yours?

I would love to take a workshop like this. To be honest, I'm not sure if I use these techniques. I'll have to think on that which probably means that I don't. With that being said, you have inspired me to look at things a little differently. I'm excited to see what happens.

Have a great one,

KC Kelly said...

Hi Sia,
Wow sounds like a great workshop!
In my writing, I try to do this, sometimes I am successful! hehe. I do tend to see my story as a movie in my head, it's just remembering that others can't see those pictures and to write all of that scene so others can see it in theirs as they were reading.
Another wonderful post and things to keep in mind while writing, Thanks Sia!

Judi Fennell said...

I have no clue. I do know that one of my guiding principles when I get stuck is: Kill someone. (Figuratively of course). And do it at the end of the chapter so the reader has to turn the page.

Anonymous said...

What's funny is that I'm NOT an author, but when I'm deeply engrossed in a book, I see it as a movie, and I've been known to tell my family to give me a few more minutes; that I just want to see the end of this book.

Tracy Trebilcox Beckham

Kat Sheridan said...

I was lucky enough to attend this same workshop with Sia. If you ever get the chance to see Leanna present it, GO. It was fantastic. And yes, I had a lightbulb moment as well. Sometimes, you think you know your character's motivations, but it really helps to step inside that character (actor) and ask THEM what their motivation is. I do best in the director role--moving my actors around the stage, encouraging them to really let go in dialogue, and fussing at the "cinematographer" to get the set just right!

readwriteandedit said...

The ideas from this workshop sound like wonderful ways to delve deeper into story as we're creating it. I'm for anything that works. Even if you don't try to do exactly as Leanna suggests, her ideas will spark others, will give writers other ways of looking at character and plot and pacing and setting and all the wonderful elements that make up good fiction.

A good one, Sia. Thanks.

VA said...

Sia I use these ideas because I am very visual. I want to envision the scene and so I'm sure my reader would too. The interview of the character is a good one and one which I am presently making more use of. It helps me to decide how they react to each incident.

Sounds like a fabulous workshop. Thanks for sharing the goodies with us.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I learned a lot at this workshop. Ways of looking at things, which is always good as a writer.

I will be featuring Leanna later next month and hopefully she will amplify these points. This was only the basic thoughts I came away with from the workshop. There was much more. :-)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Interesting way to look at it!

Let me know what you want to do for my guest spot next week, Sia! I'm on the road right now and want to be sure I get the interview questions or whatever back to you in time...

aries18 said...

Sia, I've always written this way, visualizing the scene as if it were a movie. I had someone editing a piece I wrote and their main objection was that it was too movie-like. Since I wasn't sure what they meant I thought I'd been doing it wrong. But it's the only way I know. So I decided I'd keep doing it that way. Nice to know that Ms. Heiber approves.

As always you given me something to think about and a new way to see things. Thanks.

Authors Promoting Authors said...

Sia, lovely blog!

Thank-you for visiting Authors Promoting Authors in Sept.
I am pleased to inform you, that you are this month's comment leaver give-away winner!
Please drop me a line with your snail mail address at: .


Authors Promoting Authors

~Sia McKye~ said...

My coffee is always good, lolol! And strong. Anything else is tea.

Thanks, Tina-Sue, I'll drop you an email.

Hawk, I wrote to you while I was in Ohio. Hmmm, let me go back and look in my sent file, sweetie.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, great blog! When I get stuck it's because I start to second guess myself...then the characters pop out- whack me upside the head- and tell me to let them tell their story and keep myself out of it. LOL Works every time. Cheers~

Lesli Richardson said...

I absolutely "see" my stories in my head. When I write, I'm simply transcribing the "movie" that's been playing. Complete with a soundtrack I will plug into my MP3 player to help me set the mood while I'm writing.

Conda V. Douglas said...

My s.o. is into screenwriting and I've written a couple myself. It really helps to keep a "script" in mind, keeps my writing active.

cmkempe said...

I think that's one of the differences: when I'm reading someone else's story, I'm never completely immersed. I'm always evaluating it and conscious of the prose. But when I'm caught up in my own story, I'm just trying to capture the narrative that's unrolling in my head, trying to get all the important elements. It is very much like directing, but I don't usually have to tell the "actors" much!