Lyla Campbell

Do you write what you know? Do you write what you do? How do you fully flesh out something on the page when you don't have any experience in the topic? We're writers so we do our, reading topical articles, talking to people in the know...but it can sometimes come out flatter than the page it's written on.

Nothing comes close to first hand experience. After all how would you describe chocolate if you've never smelled it's aroma, tasted it on your tongue, or felt the way it melts against your cheek. If you have only seen pictures of it there's no way you can get it right.

I was pondering this the other day when I remembered a drama class I took in high school where we covered the topic of method acting. The basic idea is: if you were playing the part of a homeless man, you would live that way for a few days or weeks, if you were playing the part of a nanny, you would borrow some kids to look after for a good period of time, if you were playing a sleep deprived mad man, you would forgo your pillow for a night or get the point. In order to portray a role as purely as possible, they would experience their character's world on an intimate level.

This same concept can be applied to our writing. Immerse yourself in a hobby or dabble in an interest of one of your characters. This may not always be affordable, legal, or sane. In those cases, google might be the best that you can get. But if for example, your MC likes to sew her own clothes, by all means, take a sewing class. It will give you a better understanding of why your MC might like sewing so much and at the same time it will help you broaden your horizons. Never a bad thing.

How would this method be best applied to your characters and story? Feel free to share your ideas below!
3 Responses
  1. Settings (at least types of settings) are important to investigate. I used to live in a very rural area and, a bit over two years ago, my husband and I moved to town. Wow, huge difference living here than just coming here occasionally for me.

  2. Julie S Says:

    I never realized how much writers need to learn about and experience some of their topics.

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