Writing is like acting

Current word count: 26,471

New words written: 897

Words til goal: 13,529 / 366 words a day til the end of September

Another good writing morning.

Looking at my word count, and where I am in the story, I think I’m going to overshoot my 40K goal, but that’s ok. What is it Stephen King says? Your final draft is your first draft minus 10 percent, or something like that. And I know this book will need tightening.

My two main characters, the two point of views I’ve been writing in, have come together, and will be together for most of the rest of the book now. I had to make a choice as to which POV to stick with, and I’ve chosen the kid mainly because of the book’s audience. But I was thinking that I might later write the same chapters in the alternate POV just to see what I can discover about the characters and action. I might find new things that I want to incorporate.

Writing is a lot like acting, except you get to play every single role.

When I took theater in college (I have a degree in theater arts and mass communications), one of the aspects I really loved about acting was creating the characters, reading between the lines of the dialog to figure out the backstory, what made the characters tick, how they acted and why, their motivations. The why is the biggie, of course. When I wrote plays in college, I had to do the same for every character, but I could only show what I knew through the dialog and occasional stage direction.

Now, writing novels, I can explore the characters more fully on the page, but, unlike in playwriting, where you’re actively playing every role to produce the dialog, with a third-person limited novel, you’re only actively playing the role of the main character, but you still need to know what’s going on in the heads of the others to make their actions and dialog realistic.

Switching back and forth between the POVs of my two main characters has been interesting, and I found that when I wrote in one character’s POV for a while, before I switched, I had to scroll back to the earlier chapters to get back into the head of the other character so I could write in his point of view. Now that the two of them are having a conversation, it’s a little odd for me, as I try to actively play just one of the roles, because I’ve been actively playing both.

When I was at the SCBWI summer conference a couple of years ago, an author suggested we write a scene through a different POV as a great way to get to know our characters and to find new and different things to add into the story, the wonderful details that bring a story to life. Writing in the two POVs as I have been, I can see how that would be a really interesting exercise, because each character will look at a scene differently depending on their circumstances, and their view will prompt their actions.

Take my novel, for example, the 11-year-old protagonist will see his backgarden as somewhere safe and normal. He won’t describe it much, because he knows it so well. But, taken from the POV of someone who has never seen it, they’ll notice where the trees are, what kinds of flowers are growing, whether the lawn is green or brown. Seeing it just from my protagonist’s view, I might not see all the little details, but seeing it from the alternate POV, I can see so much more because I’m looking at it through his more innocent eyes.

So for us writers, it can be good to see each scene through different POVs, so we can get a complete picture of the story in our novel.

How’s your writing going?

Write On!


One Response

  1. Brit says:

    This is a good post, and you are right, different POVs prompt different details.

    I’m in the process of revising my WIP and I’m thinking of switching to 1st person. I’m going to test my first chapter to get a feel for it and see if I like it, if I think it is worth it.

What do you think?