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Writer’s Craft #47 – Living the Scene

November 21, 2011
Author Karina Fabian

Author Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian‘s quirky twists and crazy characters have won awards, including the INDIE book award for best fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), an EPPIE award for best sci-fi (Infinite Space, Infinite God) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), and top placer in the Preditor and Editor polls. Mrs. Fabian is former President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Her latest fiction, Mind over Mind, is available on Amazon.


So I’m sitting at the computer, working on some marketing stuff for my novel, Mind Over Mind, when the main character, Deryl, decides to share the scene where his control over his power slips and he almost gives in to the temptation to, well, destroy a couple of worlds.

Know what it’s like to get knocked to your knees with the desire to suck up all the energy of one planet and hurl it at another? I do now–and that’s actually kind of cool.

I don’t think writers often talk about this side of themselves. I mean, if an actor lives out that scene, then she’s getting ready for a role, but if a writer does it, someone’s going to gently suggest medication.

But we’re writers here, so share! Do you act out your scenes? Do you feel them as well as see and hear them? Have you ever just spaced out because a character took over your imagination? What scene has gripped you so hard it’s scary (though possibly cool at the same time)?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2011 6:50 am

    I’ve blogged about this (and I think I was inspired by reading something on Sue Bolich’s blog), so it’s familiar territory, and probably familiar territory for most of us. You are not alone in using this technique to bring characters and scenes alive. Getting inside a character as an actor portraying a role is an excellent way to test out dialog (speaking it aloud lets you hear how natural it really sounds) and to see how well your character holds together. The deeper into the role you get, the better able you are to portray it believably.

    There’s a writing exercise called “Character Autopsy” that draws on exactly this method, and is great fun as well as very useful. One assumes one’s character and is grilled by a moderator.

    I suppose the most unsettling thing is assuming the persona of one’s villain, especially when one is able to understand all the motivations and justifications for one’s evil-doing. I suppose one could use this method in the real world, to try to understand the motives and behavior of people whom you see as villains, as enemies, to try to understand them better and make them seem less “other” and more human. An excellent tool of compassion.

  2. November 21, 2011 9:58 am

    I recently heard a story about Aaron Sorkin breaking his nose when he was acting out a scene of dialogue he was working on and crashed into his bathroom mirror. Now that’s committment!

    I have terrible space/depth perception, so I sometimes have to stand up and move around the room so I can accurately describe what’s going on within a space. On rare occasions, I’ll rope my wife into the process; posing her in various spots and positions so I can figure out what she could or couldn’t see and the ways that the human body can and can’t be bent. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t put up with it for long.

  3. November 22, 2011 2:52 pm

    You have described the aspect of writing that scares me silly. Feeling the pain and fear of my characters sometimes makes me timid. I hope I manage to push past this…

  4. krysia permalink
    November 23, 2011 6:47 pm

    I tend to day dream about scenes while I’m walking. Sometimes it’s like I wake up in another part of the city because I was so into what I was thinking about. That’s usually when I text lynda about the amazing thought.

  5. Lynda Williams permalink
    November 23, 2011 11:41 pm

    Which I greatly enjoy, of course, Krysia.🙂 Margi, I’ve had that happen! My main character Amel has had a rough life and suffered betrayals in it as well as good stuff. I remember feeling spooked by people after writing some scenes where I was “channeling” him. Like I could never find the courage to face life again. And no visitor probe in site to make me braver, like there was for him in The Courtesan Prince. ‘course not sure I’d want that fix, either.🙂

  6. November 28, 2011 2:09 am

    I’m a writer, but my background is in film-making, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with actors and done some acting myself. I’ve found acting and writing have a lot in common. In a sense, a writer is an actor performing multiple roles simultaneously.

    Personally, I’m a fan of the Stanislavsky method of acting, which teaches the actor to consider (among other things) what his or her character wants in any given scene and what is in the way of getting it (objective and obstacle). It also teaches the actor to draw from life experiences, calling upon memories that may be painful or pleasurable that are similar to what the character is living through.

    I was never good at applying this stuff to my acting, but it’s definitely helped my writing. We writers shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to borrow ideas from what other types of artists do.

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