Be An Actor

Today we are pleased to bring you a new blog feature,
Holly’s Writing Insights.
Coming to you the first Tuesday of each month,
these posts will be short, to-the-point bits of wisdom
that you can apply immediately to your writing.
Here’s today’s insight.

Be an actor? That’s a WRITING TIP?!


Yeah. Seriously. You have to get inside the skins of your characters
while you’re writing them. You have to think in their heads, have to
hear their voices in your ears, have to know what they’ll say when
something goes right or when something goes wrong.

Part of making them real for your readers is first making them real for you.

So how do you do this?

First, find someplace private.


(WARNING: Your family and friends are going
to think you’re off your rocker if they catch you
at this, so “someplace private” might include
either a locking door or a really big corn field
with high corn.)

Next, you close your eyes and see your character.

Three-hundred pound chess master? Wrap his weight around you and feel it settle onto your bones. Feel the way his belt cuts into your stomach, the way his breathing makes your lungs feel a little tight and compressed.

girl-with-jump-ropeSix-year-old girl? Watch her skip, fidget, twist her hair, scuff the
sole of her shoe into the dirt, and make yourself that short, that
fragile, that certain you know everything and that terrified of
everything your gut knows you don’t know.


Master swordsman preparing to fight to the death? Feel the weight of your sword in your hand (real ones are surprisingly heavy), the way the hilt bites your palm for traction, the shift of your spine as you move into position, the way your shoulders and hips flex as you step forward. Know you have to live, that the man facing you has to die. Prepare yourself to make the thrust that will end him.

Finally, walk in your character’s shoes.

You’ve readied your mind with your character’s shape, movement, mannerisms.
Now open your eyes as your character. Speak in this other voice, ask
yourself questions and answer them not as you would answer them, but
as your character would. Walk around the room in character. Swing
your sword, skip your rope, settle heavily into the chair in front
of the chessboard.

In your character’s skin, you’ll make discoveries about him or her that you’ll never make sitting at your desk.

Write with joy,


P.S. For my in-depth character creation class, go here

Tell A Writer
Holly Lisle

Novelist, writing-nerd, dissector of thought processes, writing course creator and site owner here, Holly Lisle has a cat that plays fetch and a whole lotta stuff on for both readers and writers.