Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Writing and Acting go Hand in Hand

All throughout high school and college I studied theater. I worked behind the scenes, I acted on stage - there was very little I did not do over this extended period of time. I loved the theatre. I still do, even though life has prevented me from pursuing this pleasure at this time.

All my life, I also loved to write. I had a grandfather who was an author and he'd constantly encourage me to "write every day," among other sage words of advice. I am lucky I am at a place in my life I can write every day - even though I sometimes fall short of this advice.

Recently it's tumbled through my mind how alike both professions are in terms of character development. As a writer or as an actor, you have to dig deeper than whats on the printed page.

When I would land a role for a stage production, there would be weeks of practice in which I'd learn where to stand and how to move as well as memorize my lines. Beyond this, or in addition to this, I also had to spend a great deal of time figuring out my character. What was she like as a child? When did she lose her virginity? Did she fall and break her arm when she was eight because someone dared her to climb the tallest tree in the park? What events made her into the person she was at the time of the script? Now, all these events might never be mentioned in the script, but as an actor, I'd have to look between the lines and dig deep to "find" them in order to create a more believable and endearing character on stage.

As a writer, I have to employ the same tools to make my characters believable, come to life as it were. The final printed page may never tell the reader that "Bob" took a vacation to Washington at age twelve where he and his family ended up trapped during a snowstorm, but as a writer, I have to know this, and I have take this experience to shape the man he'll be in the story I present to you. We, as humans, do not suddenly come into being in one singular moment of time. At least, not usually. In order to create memorable characters, a writer can do no less.

Trust me, I've tried the here and now approach to writing characters. I've been there where the only depth to the character is whatever words come out of his or her mouth in the manuscript. The attempt at writing this way came from wanting to shortcut, wanting to be "simple," and to focus on the plot. Did this ever work for me? Hell no. I'd end up with boring, unmotivated people that simply existed page to page.

Do all writers do extensive backgrounds on their characters such as I'm describing? No. But the authors who have memorable characters do, to some extent. The characters you create, you develop, you write, are entities unto themselves, just as a character is to an actor onstage. And without some background, you might as well put dotted lines around your people and publish a paper doll book.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Special Ho-Hum

Ever have those times that kinda slide right on by? Life goes on in a steady rhythm. Get up. Take care of kids, husband, and/or self, work at something, eat periodically, sleep. Repeat.

That's me of late. Nothing interesting has struck me or my family. My writing is going at a steady pace, the kids are being kids, the husband is being, well, a husband. Nothing out of the ordinary is taking place right now.

Am I enjoying this stream of life? Yes. Yes I am. Life too often blows up in your face when you least expect it - especially when you have kids. The blow up could be good or bad, but either way, you need your energy to get through the ups and downs. So even though I cannot report anything special, I suppose in its own way, it is special.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I have been a very bad girl lately. (I've not been writing much). Instead, I've been reading like there's no tomorrow. Some bug bit me and I've been going through a TBR mountain that's been collecting for over a year probably. (Let's not even start of the books I have on my computer - jeesh). Some books in there I had bought new, some were second hand, some borrowed from friends, some ... I have no idea where they came from. Regardless, I've been moving through that stack and books I can't get into go to the give-to-second-hand-store pile and the others, obviously, go to my keeper bookcase.

Let me start off by saying my main taste in reading material is romance in practically any form. Contemporary, erotic, regency, paranormal, sci fi, to name a few. If it involves a couple or more individuals attempting to find that special someone (or someones), I'm snagged to check it out. I'd say probably 95 percent of my reading material falls into some kind of romance category.

I do not stifle myself, however, and I will read other genres. I like mystery, thrillers, some horror and even a few general fiction stories. It does help to make a person more well rounded, doesn't it?

Well, a couple of books in my pile were Janet Evanovich books, the Stephanie Plum series. Numbers 10 and 11. I've read several of Evanovich's romances and loved them but I kept putting the Plum books on the back burner. I don't really know why, and now that I've gobbled them up, I'm beating myself for waiting so long.

I cannot think of any book that I've had my hands on that has read faster, funnier and more engaging than these books. Part of my to-do list this week is to go out to get the ones I've missed! I promise you, once I started in, I could not - and did not - put them down. I let the kids have a hey-day with the video games just so I could curl up and read and laugh like crazy.

Man, I wish I could even think of writing with a comic flare like her. Yes, it's first person POV, which does usually throw me, but her writing is flawless. I don't care what the other characters are thinking because her (Stephanie) take is much more interesting. I'm envious of the dual relationship she has with the two alpha males (Joe and Ranger). I'm in stitches with her assistant (Lula)and her family makes my mouth gape. Beautiful, wonderful entertainment. If you ever get a chance to check one out, do so. You do not have to read them in any particular order, either, as I've discovered. Just crack one open, sit back and enjoy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Varied Names of Intimacy

Once upon a time, there was a man who visited three different women on three different nights. When he left woman number one, she told the man that had been the best sex she'd ever had. On night two, he left the second woman as she murmured that he'd been the best f**k she'd ever had. And on the third night, the third woman held him tight and whispered how she loved his lovemaking. The dazed man sat back on night number four with a beer and a few friends and wondered how three different women came to three different conclusions when in his mind, he'd done the same thing each time. "Well," asked one of his buddies, "what did you do each time?" He took a deep draw from his beer and looked at his friends mischievously. "What do you think I did? I screwed them!"

See friends, it's all about perspective. What one person sees as love, the other may see it only as the means to an end. Is one better than the other? Who's to say? Can the terms be interchangeable? Sometimes. It depends on the persons involved.

As a writer of erotica, I do focus on these terms and what they might mean to the characters involved. Can the same people be intimate at varied points and be able to call their joining making love at one time, f***ing another time and sex yet another time? Absolutely. Can I have people who get off thinking they're screwing someone? How about a character who is morally offended at the more vulgar term? Of course. Just as people are different, so to are the people I create. My job is to breathe life into characters who are varied and will have different thoughts or beliefs. If I do it right, they will eventually achieve balanced and mutual viewpoints so nobody ends up being the butt of a piss-poor joke like the one at the beginning.