Life, Writing

Why I Am Taking Acting Classes

Ever feel like you’re about to throw up when faced with a crowd watching you present something or other?

But do you want to be seen as a leader or influential person?

If you answered Yes to both of these characteristics, then have no fear: “for fear means you are pushing yourself past the comfortable norm”.

woman standing by one foot and holding flare stick near trees
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At least that is what my acting teaching would say.

Well, I am sorry to be the one to say it but feeling this fear will never go away. Knowing how to conquer it is key. You need to be the master of the fear you feel when in front of other people or a camera. Find confidence in yourself.

“Trust yourself. Being scared means you are in the zone and exactly where you need to be,” my instructor says when speaking about how we take scenes or lines of dialogue.

We need to let go and be ready to be afraid and attack what we are afraid of even while we are sick to our stomachs. But the beauty of the class is, everyone is in the same boat.

Everyone is shaking and scared and I am just a face among them.

adult air beautiful beauty
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Besides Stage Fright, What Else Would It Be Good For?

It’s knowing when to breathe during a sentence or phrase. Where to break the wording in a way that will have the most impact.

  • Grounding Yourself.

This means that it helps you find yourself in the space and moment you are in, in order to convince those who you are speaking with that you are entirely aware of them and the space. It proves you have confidence even if it isn’t true.

Eleven Benevolent Elephants. This and more phrases are said in the most dramatic way possible. Nonsensical phrases that force your mouth to bend and force you to take time and focus on facial movements. This is to be sure, that when said loudly, you will be understood no matter where they are in the room.

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What Could This Do for Writers?

Character development, actions, inner thoughts, dialogue, and confidence in being creative. That was why I took this class. I wanted to build my confidence and explore characters and personalities beyond what I would find in a book. I wanted to actually use my body to become someone else, to discover someone else’s “why” through movement and speech.

In Conclusion

I would encourage you to do an acting class. If anything, you will have another point-of-view in ways to see characters. Also, it’s really fun! Please keep your mind open in ways you can learn and become a better writer. Acting lessons are just an example.

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Character Timelines and the Helicopter Writer

Do you remember mom checking up on you while you’re out and about with friends? Well it is time put on your mom jeans because that is the attitude you need to gain for your characters in every book. I’m not talking about telling your characters to be back home before the streetlights come on- I mean you have to know the whereabouts of each character in your story the entire time. It would be a shame to forget that one of your “children” exists.

 

Even if you don’t realize it at first, because you’re focused on building a story, your readers will notice that so-and-so is not present anymore. You don’t want Billy to vanish off the face of the earth with no rhyme or reason. Making a note in your timeline that Billy is grounded in his bedroom for the next five chapters works, that way we know that Billy didn’t just up and vanish and that way you will remember to bring him back later on in the book if needed.

 

My timelines go chapter by chapter according to the characters in each book (example at the end of the article). Character timelines can create a more solid understanding in character motives throughout the story. If Shelly’s determined to get a job, you can have her pop up in and out of the story at cafes, depressed about her bad luck in finding employment. Additional knowledge about what Shelley has going on in her life can prompt a scene or dialogue, or create the illusion that other characters in the story have lives outside of the plot. It’s a neat trick to use and makes your world believable. It takes from only a few minutes to a few hours to plan and it is a changeable element!

 

Using my character timelines, I got to figure out the character development of each character by the time my main character runs into them again. Having all characters revolve around our main character is not only limiting your world, but it is unrealistic. When you go about the world, people are on their own personal story, so treat it like that. Make the outline for each character’s own book in your story.

 

Timeline

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Deciding the POV of Your Story

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One of the most crucial things most writer’s over-look is the importance of who tells their story and how. Point of View (or POV) is the voice talking to your audience. Without an effective point of view your book will have just as much personality as a lamppost. For this you have 3 options: First Person, Second Person, and Third Person point of views.

When you begin to plan your point of view, keeping a few things in mind will help point you in the right direction.

Who has the most at stake? Readers want to hear the words of someone who will develop the most during the duration of the story.

Who can best help present the theme of your story? If your theme is death, you might not want to choose a character who doesn’t loose someone close to them.

Where is the most action? Don’t make your readers miss out on a great scene in the book. If your view point character is not invited to a party where the antagonist gets a serious butt-whooping, it will make your reader upset they didn’t get to see all the drama unfold.

Which character has the most entertaining outlook on life amongst the characters that cover all these? Who has the most unique voice or the most entertaining personality to you?  What are you are you going to keep to yourself? What POV will be most effective in doing this?

So, let’s break down these options and what they can do for your story and decide what you want to get across to your reader.

The First Person POV

This is a way to tell your story at an intimate level. Readers get to know your narrator like a friend and can hear their voice as they read because your character is telling them what went down. This has the potential to be entertaining and humorous in allowing your character be themselves and bond with the reader.

You must also decide if the narrator is Reliable or Unreliable. Is the narrator giving us a faithful retelling or do they twist things to tell us only what they want to? The possibilities to make your first person viewpoint character shine are numerous!

The Second Person POV

 If you want to take the road less traveled, pick this one- though it’s not recommended. This post is in second person after all with all my “you” s and “your” s. You’re the character and I am engaging you in the story I am telling about how important points of views are. You are at the center stage, and you are the main character. This viewpoint of self-reflection appears in literary works and short stories most of the time. An entire novel, rare as they are, can have the reader addressed the entire way through, but it is most often down paragraphs or chapters within longer fictional works.

The Third Person POV

There are so many ways on going about this point of view and it doesn’t leave you at a disadvantage when compared to the others.

Free Indirect Speech can present your character’s voice and opinions like you would in First person. Word choice will help develop their feelings and reason. It gives the reader the ability to see through your characters eyes and your world from a distance. Third Person Limited is the best to get your reader to hear and understand one character’s POV the entire story like the first person, minus the “I” and “me”.

Multiple Points of View is used in a few popular books today, think The Song of Ice and Fire series. This is a powerful tool in getting your reader to know your characters, but it is hard to do effectively. I have come across books where each character speaking sounds the same and different viewpoints have no purpose to further the plot. You must always pay attention to who’s speaking and the difference in character voices/tones in their sections. If you don’t know these nitty gritty details, then I recommend you not using it or your reader will become frustrated. It is also helpful to define who is speaking for the possibility that the reader forgets what a certain character’s narration sounds like and they end up in a tangled web of confusion they must unfurl for themselves. It is also helpful to keep the number of point of view characters to a minimum in one book. If we have ten characters were reading from, it can get confusing. Keep it simple. Your reader does not know your characters and it’s easy to make them feel like they’re in a crowded room with ten different people all shouting at once.

So, What Should You Do?

Do what you want! It is your book. You call the shots and you make the big decisions. If you ask yourself what will engage your readers and best tell your story without focusing on originality, then you will make the right choice more often than not. If you finish your manuscript and decide to change it after- that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to explore different options until one feels right. Not all first tries are successful.

Keep Writing. Keep Growing. You Got This!

Writing

The Writer’s Post: Choosing Your Book’s Niche

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One of the most important parts of publishing a book is choosing where your book truly belongs.

Why should you decide on your genre? Well, if you are trying to convince someone to read your book, they would like to know what to expect out of it. Your readers don’t owe you their attention, so promising a certain type of story will get those people excited for your work.

There are many pros to choosing a genre. If you want to take your work to a literary agent or professional publisher, they will be more inclined to reading and using your writing if they know what genre it is classified under- unless you want your manuscript to end up in the dreaded slush pile. Genres set rules to help you form the book based on what your readership could expect and want from you. If you want to sell a lot of books, you must write what the readers want 98% of the time.

The cons of choosing a genre: Yes, it does have negative aspects. Genres can make your book limited in how your story can develop. To figure this one out, try looking for book series that is somewhat similar to yours, what are they categorized as? Another negative aspect when it comes to getting published by professional companies is that they will often require you to produce many books in the same genre so you have a brand with your name (or pen name). Authors sometimes have two pen names when writing for two different genres for this very reason. So, perhaps come up with a second name to write under.

My tips are:

1) Know Your Genre

If you don’t understand the limits of a genre or what readers would expect from a book within it, then I suggest you do a little studying. Read whatever you can get your hands on. I am not saying that you need to read every book known to man within the genre, but  read enough so that you feel comfortable in making something fans of that genre will like.

2) Decide Why You Want To Write

Are you motivated by the idea of making large amounts of money with your writing? I am not here to tell you this is the wrong motivation, because some people do it mostly for the money. In this area self help books are huge along with romances that cater to a specific group of readers and will sell decently. Scholarly books, such as text books, might require certain qualifications for people to recognize it as quality material, but the market is there for it as well.

Another goal for some writers is the fame. This is the goal I would strongly advise you to re-evaluate. Fame is not for everyone and it is REALLY hard to achieve with countless hours of hard work and  dedication under your belt (and you still might not even make it). Not everyone will want to read what you write. And if you are only focused on becoming famous, you aren’t paying enough attention to what really matters- you’re writing.

The third and last reason why someone would publish a book is because they enjoy it. This is the greatest reason a person can have to write their stories. You can write what you want and have a greater freedom, stressing less about what readers will want and focus on what you want. With this dream in mind, you don’t really care if it doesn’t sell well, just as long as you find that one person who would really love your story as much as you.

3) Don’t Falsely Advertise Your Book

It’s just not worth it. If you advertise a romance as an action adventure, the action adventure people will find it, read it, and hate it (more than likely). These readers will take to the internet and post lengthy “too much kissing”, one-star reviews. It is best to know your book’s true genre instead of angering the people you have done all this hard work for.

4) Learn Where and How to Effectively Market Your Book 

This is a no brainer. You will want to advertise your book where your target audience would see it. So more than likely a sci-fi thriller might not be appealing to advertise on websites aimed at lawn and garden enthusiasts. Learn marketing skills even if you have a publisher. It will make you seem like you really know what you are doing and  more capable to achieve greater sales for both you and the publisher.

 

So please make sure you are letting people know what they are getting into the moment they first encounter your book, whether it be at the local bookstore or while browsing the kindle store. The reader doesn’t owe you their attention. You must grab their attention by the hand and pull them in and keep them there by giving them an idea on what your story contains.

Keep Writing! Keep Reading! Keep Growing!

Writing

The Writer’s Post: The Voices in Your Head

Ever roll your eyes when another writer says: “oh, I had to have that in the book because [name of their character] told me to”? Well, next time believe them.

I know, I know. You must think: ‘Cassandra? You are defending these people when they believe their imaginary friends are talking with them? They might even talk to them out loud!” Oh, the humanity! Really? Is this the worst thing these people could do?

Sit down before you continue reading.

Writers are talking to someone. They aren’t crazy and the characters aren’t fictional. The voice inside the writer’s head is themselves. As we go about our lives, we are influenced by the people and places within it. Writers are delving into a memory, emotion, or a person they knew in the past when they conjure up an idea of a character, it is not “from scratch”. We can never have an original thought, thoughts and ideas will always have their origin. So no, the people they make aren’t enterily fictional. How else can the characters evoke emotion from the readers if they do not come from another human’s heart and personality?

Ever felt a personal connection with a computer? Exactly.

Emotions are the building blocks a writer uses to understand what type personality and backstory a character will have. For example, a stern side of a writer’s personality can inform the creation of a paternal character. “Speaking” to this fragment of themselves is all part of the process in forming believable characters that readers, people who were never inside the writer’s head, connect with. It is through the writer’s humanity that makes it possible for readers to feel connected to their fabrications from real-life experience and exploration, while we can’t connect with the experiences of a hair brush. A high school character can connect the writer and reader through their own experiences during the dreaded teenage world of angst and emo bands.

In conclusion, writers do hear voices in their heads, voices from emotions that are very real. Writers follow that emotion to form a person, give them a goal readers can find reasonable- no they can’t be evil just to be evil. Without a true understanding between the audience and characters, the reader won’t care if they live or die.

Writers: The voice in your head, or as we like to say: “the character’s voice”, is your own emotions and experience with your own life story leading you in your writing. Sometimes you will deviate from what you originally planned and form your story into something almost unrecognizable (I have been through this many times). It is all part of being a human and having the emotional capacity to create worlds and stories. Go with your instincts, it is you advising yourself anyways under the guise of a character.

Keep striving, growing, and learning. And never EVER stop writing!pexels-photo-799420.jpeg