Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Embracing Your Inner Drama Queen

I took four years of drama, shy soul that I am. And we talked a little about this at the Saturday writing meeting.

It works in writing. Really. Here's how.

Take the POV character in the scene you're in. Figure out this character's deepest emotion during the scene. Now think about yourself and when you've experienced this emotion.

Example: Heroine brings hero a sandwich but he doesn't notice her as anything but a friend.

Maybe this hasn't happened to you. Maybe you're a hottie and all guys notice you. :-) But think about rejection. Has there been a time in your life when you felt left out? Undervalued?

Rejected?

As you remember this moment in your life, take note of what happens with your heartbeat. Does your skin prickle? Does your mouth dry? Do you feel like running away or screaming?

Every character is different, make sure their responses fit their personality, but use your past to add life to their drama.

Feel what your character feels. Be that character, if only for a scene.

When people (or characters) do things you don't agree with, do you have trouble being empathetic or can you see themselves in their shoes? Ever hated a character so much that you just didn't want to feel what they do? How would you write the physical accompaniments to hatred?

45 comments:

Angela said...

Drama is great for writers, because it makes you really think about what image you're trying to show the reader. For me, it makes me think about the body more, and how it interacts with the setting, in order to get thoughts and emotion across. In acting, there is no way to express internal thoughts other than through action, and showing. To do so properly is a challenge ad a great way to strengthen writing skills.

Tabitha Bird said...

yeah.. my drama queen is never far from me. I have embraced her to write all manner of non-fiction articles and a completed memoir. I am recently learning to let her loose in fictional pieces. Thanks for the post. Great title. I like a bit of drama queen :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Oooh! I like this concept! When I'm writing I think I already unconsciously get into my POV character's skin. But I like the way you relate that to drama class and playing the role of that particular character! I'll be thinking about this when I start writing! Thank you!

Katie Ganshert said...

Great post! That's exactly what I do. I try to put myself in the scene and feel the physical reactions. Then I write. Great reminder, Jessica. Now I'm going to go find my inner drama queen. :)

Jessica said...

Hi Angela,
Exactly! In fact, one of the authors used to write?? (I think?) scripts so she'd had practice having to get the characters feelings across in only dialogue and actions.
Thanks for commenting Angela!

Jessica said...

LOL Tabitha! Some people do like that drama. :-) Good for you for using it!

Jessica said...

You probably do already do this, Jody. :-)
This was one of the things talked about at the meeting, so it's not my original theory. LOL! But it works and I can understand what the authors meant because of my years of drama.
It was a great reminder for me too!

Jessica said...

Good luck in your search Katie! LOL

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Good advice, Jessica! I often transpose myself into situations that happen in my books, but you're right, my response isn't always the same as my characters. That's the difficult part--shifting into a different person before leaping into the experience. I'm still working on that.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessica:
Here's a great quote I read this morning: "the fear of rejection is worse than the rejection itself." I love that, and it rings so true.

I took drama, too, although i probably wouldn't have needed it, since I can make my own drama from very little happenings!

Great post!
Jen

Genny said...

I love how you suggest taking note of our reactions. Those kinds of feelings and descriptions can make a story so real. Great post, Jessica.

Jessica said...

I think we all are, Eileen, and each character is different too. Some are easier than others, imo.

Jessica said...

LOL Jen! You sound so different from me. I'm a hide in the corner until things die down kind of girl. LOL
I can't wait to see what happens with your devotionals!

Jessica said...

Thanks Genny. I think stuff like that makes the story more real too.

Cindy said...

What a great tip! It's challenging sometimes and I wonder if I've really captured an emotion correctly--especially a really strong one. I'm going to to use your advice. Thanks!

Jessica said...

Hi Cindy,
I think some emotions are harder than others to capture too.

Janna Qualman said...

It can be hard, and take several attempts, but that's exactly what I do: put myself in his/her shoes.

Marybeth Poppins said...

I love this! I kinda like to make a character react in a way that I would like to, but don't have the guts. I tend to shy away from drama...although hearing about it can be intriguing, I just don't like to be a part of it!

Jill Kemerer said...

Drama Queen? Moi? Never! This is a great exercise to get in touch with our characters--thanks for posting it!

Stephanie Faris said...

Great advice. I took drama too but I was never very good at it. Maybe somehow deep down I knew that I'd use it someday...

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessica, I didn't take any drama classes, but I see the value in feeling what my character feels. I try to do that as I write. One day my daughter walked into my office, saw tears plopping onto my keyboard and said, "Sad scene, huh?" When I'm writing a scene in which my hero and heroine are having a fight, my cats take cover. :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

being somewhat of a drama queen, it's easy for me to imagine how I would react to a certain situation. the trick is to cover up my reaction with that of the character's...but using the same technique...putting THEM in the scenario...using THEIR traits and characteristics and pet peeves. great reminder!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post, Jessica, getting into the characters head really helps with deep pov and makes the scene feel real! Thanks!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

My undergrad degree is actually in theatre and I think that this has helped me a lot with my writing, not just in feeling empathy for my characters, but also in using acting skills like looking for a character's motivations.

Pen Pen said...

I had a writing professor that would have us watch Alfred Hitchcock to learn POV--I often think of movies when I'm writing. I treat chapters like scenes. Writing and acting are connected in my mind! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Love the title of this post!

I'm headed for Philly tomorrow AM. I'll see all of you on Sunday. :)

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Hi ladies,
Thanks so much for commenting! I love hearing how you do this, or have taken theater, etc. Pretty cool info!

Danyelle said...

I really like this post. I do have one character that sort of horrifies me. Of course, he's not human, and so doesn't look at things from a human perspective. But it's hard writing him sometimes. I love the idea of channeling the inner inner me. :)

Jessica said...

LOL Danyelle!
The way you wrote he horrifies you, it just made me chuckle. :-)

sherrinda said...

I am VERY empathetic and can get into the characters heads. It is not always comfortable though!

Patti said...

Great post and a wonderful idea. Hopefully my family won't think I'm crazy when I start acting out my scenes.

Amy De Trempe said...

Great post. I will have to put this exercise into practice.

Jessica said...

Sherrinda,
I hear you. I'm empathetic too, almost too much so. It's hard for me to get on to someone because many times I can feel their side of things.
Not my kids though. LOL!

Jessica said...

Patti and Amy,
LOL! Maybe you two should meet up, since you both want to act things out. Heehee! That would be too funny!

Terri Tiffany said...

You took drama?? that surprises me cause you did see quiet!
Loved reading the responses to this one.

Rita Gerlach said...

Another great post, Jessica. You are so right. In order to fully develop a character, you as the writer must get inside his/her head and heart. Those drama lessons help no doubt. We writers have to get 'into character' to bring out the emotions of our cast.

In 'Surrender the Wind', my hero experiences the death of a loved one. I drew upon my own grief that I was experiencing at the time I was writing this scene. I drew upon the pain I felt, even to the point of tears. It was an emotional moment for me, and strangely enough, it caused me to come to grips with some of the issues surrounding the loss of my father, who I had been very close to.

Blessings,
Rita
http://ritagerlach.com/

Jessica said...

Hi Terri,
I can be loud, but usually I'm quiet unless I'm super excited about something and I know people well.
But I loved drama so much. Getting into someone else's skin was wonderful. Also, when you're acting, you don't really see the audience because of the lighting, so it's not that bad. :-)

Jessica said...

Hi Rita,
I'm so sorry about the loss of your father. :-(
It was wise of you to use those feelings though and no doubt made the scene a more heartwrenching, realistic experience.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hmm, this is great gettin' in touch with our character exercise. I'm all of a sudden all into exercises, so I'll try this one today. Thanks Jessica.:)

Jessica said...

Thank you for stopping by Robyn.
:-) Have fun "exercising". LOL

Irritable Mother said...

I laughed out loud at the title for this post. With so much drama around here these days, it just struck me as hugely funny! *grin*

Jessica said...

Ha! Glad I could make you laugh.
:-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I actually used what I know as a writer to help me in a play -since I'm not an actor - I gave my little character role an entire life - and it helped me to play her - so yes, the opposite can happen, too.

Sometimes I wish I could turn off the "empathy button" in my brain - it helps me in writing, but it makes me too hyper-aware in real life.....


interesting post!

Jessica said...

Ooh, you were in a play? That's so awesome!!!

Ever heard of empaths? I don't know if it's a paranormal thing or not, but I'd hate that.

denise petrovich said...

I never have problems understanding the pov of a character unless they are really snotty or selfish, then I have a hard time. I think those of us who love books are gypsy's and dramatic by birth. Great and fun post honey. love Mom