Act Like a Writer

What do actors know about writing? Actually, a great deal! Some time ago, actress Molly Ringwald connected the dots for the rest of us in her article: “Act Like a Writer.” It was an “ah ha” moment for me. Here is part of what she said:

I think there is a natural curiosity that many people have when they hear about an actor writing fiction. While it’s not exactly comparable to proving a mathematical theorem, it does seem an unusual endeavor to some. For me, however, what is surprising is that more actors don’t do it, as writing fiction draws on many of the same skills that, as an actor, I have been practicing my entire life.

The appeal of diving into a character has always been the back story: everything that my character has been through up to the point when the audience first encounters her. I have eagerly invented intricate histories that I shared with no one — except during an occasional late night boozy discussion with other like-minded and obsessive actors.

Ultimately, I believe that the true collaboration involves the audience, or in the case of the novelist, the reader. These are the people who truly make the characters live. When the metaphorical curtain went up on my own book, I sat in the audience, alternately anxious and elated, waiting to see how these actors transformed my words through their own personal experiences.

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