trouble with character motivation? try acting.

| Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Today's Tune: Little Lion Man

Hello, new followers! Thank you for tuning in to my ramblings. It gives me a happy in my tummy :)

When I was a young teen, I briefly got into acting and modeling. Very briefly. About long enough to take several months' worth of acting classes, try out for a few positions as an extra, and get some pictures taken. Nothing ever came of it beyond some increased confidence, which was a bonus.

Before I took those classes, I was a shy little thing. I wasn't a "theater geek" in school, but several of my friends were. I had a special fascination with the drama department, and my friends convinced me to try out for one of the plays. At fourteen, I finally agreed to try. When it was time for my audition, I was beyond terrified. I stood by the piano, shaking, and attempted to sing "The Rose." My voice was barely audible. The director politely thanked me and I ran from the room. I didn't make first cut.

Then I took those classes. I learned how to project, how to embody a character, how to emote. The next year, I went back in to try out for the spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors. The director took one look at me and sighed before telling me to go ahead. He clearly recognized me. The accompanist started playing the first few bars of "Somewhere That's Green." I took a deep breath, opened my mouth, and started singing. Audibly, and pretty well (I'd practiced). I watched the director look up at me from his notes with raised eyebrows. On Monday morning, I went to look at the list for first cut, and there I was. I made it.

I wish I could say that I won the lead in the play and I blew everyone away, but that didn't happen. I did make it all the way to final cut for the female lead, though. It ended up going to a talented senior who'd been taking Drama for her entire high school career, and I couldn't fault her for that. Really, I was thrilled to have made it that far.

So, what's my point with this lengthy anecdote? It's only very loosely related. I just wanted to share that story, heh. You know, practice and confidence and all that.

Really, though, I wanted to mention that if you're having trouble connecting with your characters, you should try some acting classes. Even if you have absolutely no desire to become an actor, they're dead useful. Being able to crawl inside your character's head, become them, and completely understand their motivations is a great skill to have in your writer's toolbox. Plus, they're a great confidence boost if you're the sort of introvert (as most writers are) who has trouble with feeling awkward around new people or speaking in public.

Just another of the many fun activities we can enjoy in the name of "research" :) Try it out!

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