By Kena Sosa
It’s time to break the mold, writers. In the age of instant gratification, readers are no longer opening a book to only learn a version of events they may not ever experience, but to discover things they may experience one day on their own. We must live more so that our writing is spicy, breathes and grows. We must stop hiding behind that laptop, the spiral notebook and the safety of our own thoughts. Actors use method acting by absorbing, becoming and living their characters. It’s time we did the same.
Be a D.I.Y. enthusiast and do it yourself. If there is something you want to write about, do it first. If you are writing about a police officer, sign up for a free Citizen’s Police Academy. If you are writing about a scuba diver, sign up for a course. If your character is a paleontologist, sign up for a dig. Observe everyone and feel their reality. Live the life you want to write about.
People watch. Study people that influence your characters, not to copy them but to see how they work, how do those similar to your characters interact with others? What do they say and do? Interview people about their characteristics and jobs to get an insider’s perspective. You’ll need to assure them you are not writing about them, but are using the information only to build a more realistic character. If your interviewee is willing, try having an impromptu conversation with them about part of your plot or an event you’d like to write about. If you have mapped out some dialogue, ask them to do a read through like actors with a script. Get their perspective on the events and speech used. What would they say or do in that situation? If they aren’t up for it, have the conversation with your imaginary friend, yourself! Everyone talks to themselves in the car, so why not make it productive?
Method act like actors do. Leave your house and pretend to be your character. What places would they visit? What would they do? Be that character for a day and see how people react to you. If need be, conduct a social experiment. If you said you were lost, which people would stop to help you? Learn about others outside of your social circle through real interaction and observation.
If possible, find ways to travel on the cheap to the settings of your stories. Not all of your stories can be about the same place, can they? When you travel, settle down and try to identify with the locals.
Leave that comfort zone behind. I’m living it up developing my next story, not suffering writer’s block. Before you know it, all that stimulation, those new and invigorating wild thoughts, secrets, skills and passions will be ready to pour from your lips to the paper.
School librarian by day and writer by night, Kena Sosa adores words. She also loves playing the drums. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and her master’s degree in bilingual education from Southern Methodist University. Her first children’s book, Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, was born of the celebration of her childhood in San Antonio. Her second book, Kindertransport: A Child’s Journey, is about the escape of children on the Kindertransport train just before the outbreak of World War II. Kena Sosa has lived in Japan and Mexico, but sharing stories with her two sons and other eager readers has been her favorite adventure yet!