Method Acting For Writers

Fellow costumers at Nerdacon 2012

We often hear that the most effective way of creating believable charactesr is to put ourselves in their shoes. I've tried methods such as character interviews and creating boards on Pinterest. They work very well, but I found another way to explore the nuances of character and that is to literally put yourself in their shoes.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I attended Nerdacon, a scifi/comic/anime/video game convention put on by the students at Columbus State University.

Look, it's Merida!
There's a new Internet dance craze from Korea called Gangnam that I just learned about from seeing these happy participants.

In this environment of proud artists and eclectics, I stepped out in the guise of a steampunk lady from a story I'm working on.

No slouching in a corset!

Walk around for eight hours in this getup and you appreciate the full range of mobility that us modern-day folks take for granted. We hate stereotypical helpless and hapless female leads, but even the bravest lady is not going to throw that hard a punch in satin gloves or race away in heeled boots. She'll have to remove these garments or find another way to get out of trouble. Getting a feel for these little details makes the story all the more believable.

If dressing in costume isn't your thing, don't let that keep you from getting into character. Think about your protagonists' personalities and physical abilities. I wrote a short story about a 1940s detective who suffered from a leg injury. Although it's fun to don vintage styles, I don't need a trench coat and fedora to know what it feels like to move around with a bum knee.

Is your lead character the sarcastic type? He or she probably won't walk with a jaunty step. The happy-go-lucky type? Chances are, that character won't slink into the corner booth of a cafe.

So let your inner child come out. Play pretend. Get a real feel for how your people live and move throughout the world you've worked so hard to create.

How do you get into character?