Monday, October 25, 2010

Bringing characters into our lives

You've heard of method acting? It's a collection of techniques where actors try to become, through their thoughts and actions, the characters they're portraying.

Well, what about method writing? Do you do it? Have you had success with it? What does it even mean?

Children's writer Christina Farley wrote on her blog Chocolate for Inspiration about visiting an archery pavilion in Korea to learn about the Korean Horn Bow. She writes, "I've been doing some research over the past few months... But I really wanted to get a clearer sense of how the bow worked and felt."

I was struck by Christina's dedication to research. It reminded me of Marcus Sedgwick, who researched his book REVOLVER by visiting an armory and learning how to shoot a gun.

Do these examples count as method acting? I wouldn't say the authors are trying to become their characters. But they're definitely trying to get a sense of what it feels like to be their characters.

Project Demo relies heavily on a specific piece of music. I've been listening to the CD for weeks now, and recently discovered my library had sheet music for the piece. So I'm learning to play the piece on my viola, too. Very cool.

Now the song is permanently stuck in my head, and whenever I hum it, or finger its notes, I'm thinking about my novel and my main character.

Perhaps this isn't method acting so much as research. Fun research. But whatever I call it, I do think it's pulling me closer and deeper into my character's head.

What do you do to bring your characters to life?


  1. I definitely have to get into my character's head and become the character, if you will. I think that's different from immersing yourself in your character's world, like you did with the song for Project Demo. I think both are important. I've know writers to make collages of/for their character's life—a picture of what their house would look like, a pair of boots they might wear,etc. I'd like to try that.

  2. That's a useful distinction, Andrea. Becoming the character vs. immersing oneself in the character's world.

    Yes, I've heard about the collages too. I can imagine how making it, and displaying it near one's workspace, would really help get into the character's mind. Honestly, this is silly, but one thing really stopping me at the moment is my lack of access to magazines. I think it'd have to be an online collage. And somehow that just doesn't sound like as much fun. =)

  3. I was doing some more research on the Korean horn bow for my edits on GILDED and your mention about my post popped up. Thanks for that!


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