All writers have different styles. Some like to map it out or else they get stuck. Some are so detailed each chapter has an outline (J.K. Rowling). Some just build a world and press forward with a more barebones approach (C.S. Lewis). As many books as there are, there are as many ways to write. My style is something I like to call Actor Writing. It’s when a writer becomes each character to get an idea of how it pushes the story forward.
I came into this style just because of the way I work in general. I am a storyteller at heart. When I was learning my way of writing in my childhood and teenage years, I did a lot of theatre. I did acting, vocals, dance, and I learned a lot about how to express a character and get into a character. It bleed into my writing quickly. And it’s how I make real, dimensioned characters that even surprise me.
But this kind of writing is not easy. It takes a long time to form and get to know a character and build a story like this. I don’t know if I’d really recommend it to anyone because it’s a very personal type of approach. I’ve even noticed my favorite co-writer who meshes with my style very well, doesn’t quite manage to do it the same way I do. I use this style to get through story and plot problems. I’ve not yet met a writer who can do it the way I do. (And if you do, let me know like right now because we’ll be friends).
But, for those of you who want to understand it or try it. I tried to break it up into five parts to explain what it is and why I like that a part of it.
1. It makes the characters so real. Each one is a person with many angles. They have real flaws, real personalities, and real problems. Though they ‘live’ in my head, they take on traits sometimes I can’t even understand. To do this, I really have to write a lot of their story, even if it doesn’t go into the plot. I write as if I’m the character acting it out. If you’re an actor, you may see what I’m talking about. IF not, this is the best I can do to explain. You set up the scene. (My outlines). You establish the back story (outline again), and you just start writing the reactions to each item put in front of them. It makes the characters more well-rounded, more interesting, and it lets me become them like any good actor at the drop of a hat. It’s a great party trick, trust me. I’ve sold a few books using this trick alone.
2. It gets me unstuck when the plot is having trouble moving forward. If you’re not a deep outliner like I am, sometimes, you get stuck between Act I and Act II sometimes. And knowing each character as well as an actor would allows me to look into each character and see if they can help me passed the block. I’ve done this many times. When Cedrick or Elphacena get stuck, I have actually turned to other characters to help them overcome the road block.
3. It makes the first draft so much fun! No really, I have come to learn most authors hate the first draft. I 100% don’t understand this! I know. I’m using too many exclamation points, but I’m dead serious. The first draft is when I have fun. I’m living the adventure as each character, and I love it. Editing is just going back and making the journey look pretty.
4. Second draft is just as fun. Yeah, no joke guys. I just use my first draft as my super detailed outline, and rewrite. And I live the adventure again only better as I see or tweek new things. After that, I struggle to finish a book because the adventure is over for me. It makes it all so much fun.
5. My readers love it. There’s this one person who is a fan of my books from seeing how I can just become each character. Remember how I mentioned the party trick? Yeah, it got me my best fan and she’s given my book out like candy to others because of it.
It’s not an easy way to go. There’s a lot of problems with it too. It is time consuming to start this way, but I’d not even dream of doing it any other way. It lets my characters drive my stories. It lets me live and feel each emotion with them. And it makes me one skilled writer and author. Why do you think this is a great system or a terrible one?