3 Acting Tips to Make Your Character to Come to Life

Guess what? Somehow in the past three years, I’ve published almost 300 blog posts. *mind blown*

Anyway, since I’ve posted about writing mostly these past few months, I’m going to blog in a category I haven’t yet: acting.

These tips are just from my experience as an actress. I’m not famous, haven’t been on Broadway, or gotten my own show, but I have had experience in plays, film (growing up a media-maker’s daughter), and watching plenty of informational YouTube videos.

Disclaimer: When I say make them come to life, please do not mistake me for Dr. Frankenstein. We are actors, not scientists. What I mean is how to make them come to life through your acting. Thank you.

1. Backstory

Even the smallest characters who only have one line, or perhaps none at all, have a backstory. Think about this when you’re acting in the scenes. Yes, even if you’re playing a tree.

The way your character has lived before the script was created affects everything in the scenes they’re in. Sometimes, the writers have already created a backstory. Build on that through dialogue and blocking.

Think about how their scenes make them react. If they had a traumatic experience with their brother choking on a cookie, and her friend’s mom offers chocolate chip cookies, she may have a flash of horror then politely disagree. Of course, make sure it actually has something to do with the script, like if there was a scene later that night when your character tells her friend about the incident. Don’t take over the script, either! Just subtle hints here and there make your character come alive.

2. Interpretation

I’m going to show you an exercise I did with my brother to get him ready for the auditions for the church play. Read over a few of your lines. Now, take the character you’re auditioning for/playing and write down four traits you see in them from the dialogue.

Read it again, this time, using your motions and tone of voice to show those traits. One thing I see in a lot of young or new actors is they simply read the lines they’re given. Do not do this. Read the action tags, incorporate them with your lines. Take sighs when you’re sad. Smile when you’re happy. Tapping in to your character’s emotions will make them come alive. 

3. Really, really love it

Love acting. Love your character, no matter how small or large the part is. Love the emotions, and play on them. Just really have a good time, and it will bleed into your performance. I see a lot of people doing acting because “why not” or “I hate all the other classes for this period”. Don’t. Just really, really love it. The fact that you’re reading articles about acting already shows part of your commitment. Live it. That will make your character come alive.

I hope this helps you with your acting! If you liked this post, leave a comment or share it on social media!

Do you want more acting posts? Let me know what kinds of posts you would like! Maybe a theatre/film FAQ, or a BTS of how a theater or film production works?

Camp NaNoWriMo: The Complete Guide (For Planners, Pantsers and Everything in Between)

NaNoWriMo the Sequel: Camp NaNoWriMo

Just when you thought all the WriMos were gone… more showed up…as NaNo REBELS!

Camp NaNoWriMo is the time to #rebel from the normal NaNoWriMo foundations. Write whatever you want. Poems? Yes. Sequels? Sure. Editing? Go for it. A million words? You’re crazy, but if so, please call me (555-555, a very real number), because I’m crazy too. Just maybe not a MILLION words crazy… yet. I assure you, read through five of my posts, come back, and try convince me I’m not crazy.

Kinda like last year’s NaNo post, I’ll divide this off into easy-to-find sections. A pet peeve of mine is when a blog post is just one big text block. When does it begin??? I don’t want to hear your story, I want to read the article! What if I want to skip a part?

Just wanted to let you know, I am not a professional writer even though I pretend to be, because confidence is key. I go by my own experience. Feel free to disagree with me at any point. We can have a lovely conversation about it and hopefully we’ll both learn something.

Choosing a Project

Projects You Can Choose From:

  • Writing a draft (or part of one)
  • Writing a bunch of short stories
  • Writing poetry
  • Editing your NaNo novel
  • Rewriting your NaNo novel COMPLETELY
  • Anything you can think of related to writing except reading

Link to NaPoWriMo, which totally counts, and not in the sarcastic way. (It’s February, and all there is on the site is the cool page saying COMING IN MARCH ((actually, it says sign-ups start March 1st)), but I’m not posting until March so you’ll have to see it next year).

Do’s and Don’ts for Choosing a Project:

Do:

  • Choose something you enjoy
  • Create a goal that will challenge you but won’t stress you
  • Check your schedule
  • Be caught up on school before you write

Don’t:

  • Force something that doesn’t work
  • Choose a goal too high/hard and completely break in April and June
  • Stay up late and wake up at an unreasonable hour to write
  • Ignore all your other priorities

Can you tell what I learned this year from NaNoWriMo? And every other project ever?

Prep and Types of Writers

Types of Writers (prose only)

There are four general categories as far as I’m concerned. (In Case You Didn’t Know: Plotter is someone who plans out their novel before writing, pantser writes “on the edge of their pants” by letting the story come naturally as they write it, and plantser is the “perfect” in between).

The Total Plotter

The total plotter will plan out every single detail. Typically, they have a very high wordcount by the time they are done because they have envisioned everything, but not always. They prefer to know all there is about their story. They tend to have an easier time in editing, but their story can come off as stiff.

The Plotter-Based Plantser

There are many degrees of Plantser-ism, and this is one. The plotter-based plantser likes to keep the element of surprise (however, they need plans or they will freak out), so they typically will make an outline, but not a very detailed one. They like to know the main events of the story, the backstories of their characters, and do some world building. However, sometimes their plans can flop and they will get very confused without them.

The Pantser-Based Plantser 

The pantser-based plantser will not use an outline, or if they do, a very broad one. They only like to get an idea of their story before they start writing, a helpful little guideline. Their document labeled “prep” will only be a couple pages long. Oftentimes they envision their story in their head. Sometimes, though, they come to a dead end and writer’s block strikes.

The Complete Pantser

The complete pantser doesn’t even come up with a title for their book before writing: a couple character names and a quick synopsis, usually. They come up with new ideas as they go along. Because they do this, their writing sounds fresh and it really feels like the characters are going on the journey for the first time. It’s exciting, but editing can be a nightmare and writer’s block can make it hard to move on.

Which degree are you? Anything in between? I’m more of a plotter-based plantser. I don’t like insane details, or I get bored, but if I don’t have a plan I’ll get confused and my story will fail.

How do I know all these degrees, you make ask? I have experienced them all– you don’t understand. Literally all of them. But I am a plotter-based plantser, as seen above. At least, I think. It could change after this round of novels.

Preparing to Edit

What I do is read through, at least until the part where my brain died and literally everything fell apart. I’m also marking which parts need to be rewritten, partially re-written, and deleted. Of course, I’m going back, but you don’t have to.

The point is to assess what you need to do. How do you want to divide your edits? Create a plan.

Preparing to Write

Oh, here’s where things get fun! I shared all of my methods for prep here, basically a bunch of ideas, and a way for even the pantsiest of pantsers (that’s a word) to prepare here. A basic summary of this article: Writing when you feel like it is like training for a marathon whenever you feel like it. Practicing writing every day will make NaNoWriMo a lot easier for you, just like it would be easier to run after a training schedule.

Because I have already done this, let’s not. 

Kidding. Find your own way. What works for you? Write down everything you typically struggle with when writing. Plot seems stiff? Loosen your outline. Or, do your plots fail? Go into more detail. Characters annoying or flat? Learn more about them.

Links, Tips, and Such For the Other Projects

Scriptwriting: http://www.mensaforkids.org/teach/lesson-plans/writing-a-screenplay/

Poetry: http://www.napowrimo.net/ (I’m linking to it again)

Kind of a letdown. But, it’s what I’ve got. (If you know of or have any resources or tips for the other projects, let me know and I’ll add them up here to share with everyone!)

Keeping it Organized

I used to have all of my prep spread all over the place (digitally). But, what I do is I have a folder for each novel. What goes in there is the novel itself, the drafts, the prep, and anything else I find useful. In my prep, I like to use a large, noticeable text to define where things are, like characters, plot, outlines, descriptions, and basic details. This can be a great format to keep poetry and songs organized in! This also works for screenplays.

After I have it all finished out, I’m going to move it onto WikidPad so I can find it all easily when I need it while writing my first draft. I don’t use WikidPad very often, but it seems to work pretty well, even if it requires a bit of coding. I heard about it in Jill Williamson’s book Storyworld First, which is another great recourse.

So, that’s my post for Camp NaNoWriMo. You should see a description of my novels in the next My Writing Life. Anyway, as promised, more non-writing-related posts coming!

What are you doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, if you are? Are you rebelling, or using this as an opportunity for your first draft? Do you need a cabin? Because me, Sarah, and Chloe have a cabin and we need members. Comment if you do.

Should I change my signature?

March Goals

Before I begin, let’s go into last months’! I apologize in advance for a long post. I hope you enjoy it all the same.

Things I Did

Begin plotting out Halfway to Fourteen Yes! Still needs some tweaking, but it’s done.

Begin developing other Camp NaNo Novel Fantasy Gossip, yes.

Go for quality over quantity As I only posted like four times and have been developing stuff way in advance, I’d say I did this.

Learn my new ukulele! This turned out very well, I think. I already know guitar, so this wasn’t as hard.

♥Bake a new recipe Twice!

Read more books Not counting today, the 28th, I’ve read 12 books, as opposed to 5 last month.

Survive the greeting card class that I’m teaching I think I only died once!

Things I Sort of Did

Finish reading through Mission: Prodigy, and for bonus points, start on draft two I stopped reading halfway because the plot broke, and I couldn’t. I did start on draft two, though. Bonus points?

Post all the random drafts I have I worked on some, I think I posted one.

Brainstorm a new writing series I thought of a few ideas, but nothing really stuck out.

Work on my Bloglovin page I tried to fix my image problem. Sort of worked. Sort of didn’t.

Continue to attempt to practice my instruments more often I sort of did? More often than I usually do, but still not enough.

Be involved in the activities at the new acting workshop I’m going to I literally just meant the monologue competition. There’s like nothing else.

♥Work on writing the play for my school project At the beginning of the month, not so much at the end.

Things I Didn’t do

Finish Dragon’s Fire *sigh* I knew this wouldn’t get done anyway.

Work on the collab novel with Heidi Nope.

Make fair projects Except for Winterfare, none.

♥Get in the habit of using my bullet journal Just a few times this month.

Take more pictures Nope.

Print out more pictures Not this either.

♥Do at least one thing on the bucket list I made with my friend I knew we couldn’t do it anyway. But I will see her this weekend, so….

♥Read my Bible every day There’s been so much going on, and it’s so easy to forget. Especially when we excuse it with “I went to church”.

So, I’m pretty happy with most of that. Onto March’s!

Filler image.

Writing Goals

♥Finish plot for Halfway to Fourteen

♥Finish plot for Fantasy Gossip

♥Complete the writing exercises in Writer to Writer

♥Mostly finish Prodigies editing for draft 2

♥Make up your mind about Camp NaNoWriMo

Blogging Goals

♥Prepare some posts for March

♥Post everything you promised you would in your last post

♥Discover a few new blogs!

♥Put up a “Spring cleaning” blog survery

♥Post non-writing stuff

Music/Art/Theatre Goals

♥Make it a habit to practice my instruments

♥Learn some challenging songs

♥Do at least five craft projects

♥Pick out a monologue

Etc. Goals

♥Beat last month’s book list!

♥Keep up with school

♥Read the Bible more often

♥Create more realistic goals

♥Do more of the bucket list stuff when I see Amy

I think that’s all! What are your goals for this month? Let me know, or link to your post!

My Writing Life #5: Camp NaNoWriMo+Focusing

Hello! So, what I’m working on now.

*sigh*.

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of update type posts recently, but I’m working on some more how-to type posts. Which do you prefer?

Project One: Editing My NaNoWriMo Novel

Mission: Prodigy, to be exact. Turns out, it isn’t as awful as I thought it was. Sometimes it’s a pain to read through things I know I’m just going to delete. There’s not too much left to do before I start rewriting it. I’m planning on doing a major macro edit (where I do the rewriting and plot mending), a minor macro edit (fixing anything not plot relevant, anything I missed, how to make it better, etc.), a major micro edit (where I fix the typos, dialogue, etc.), then I’m going to send it to one or two people for their opinions and use some of their suggestions (minor micro edit).

Project Two: Halfway to Fourteen/14

This is in the developing/outlining stage, and I’m hoping to make it easier on myself when I’m writing (as in, not stopping halfway *pun not intended* because I can’t remember where the plot’s going) and editing (as in, actually giving myself something to work with). You’ll probably be hearing more about this in the next few months of Camp NaNoWriMo. Speaking of which, are there any cabins looking for members? This is my first time, so I don’t have one.

Grammar people, should I do Fourteen or 14? Not sure yet, but the “Code name”, so to speak, is 14.

Project Three: Fantasy Gossip

I’ve just developed the idea and characters for this one. I’m really excited about this (although, I’m excited for all of my ideas once I first have them). You saw Kaelin and Trey for the first time here (as well as Kamri and Mason for the first time in a while) More on this to come!

I’ve been thinking about doing two Camp Novels in one session, along with a draft of Mission: Prodigy editing. Is that crazy? I don’t know. My 2017 word is doubtless, so this kind of goes along with it. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, I guess. Since I also wanted to do NaPoWriMo, it would be a lot of writing and making sure I’m caught up on school *cue groaning*. I may save Fantasy Gossip for July, if I’m not doing any camps or whatnot.

Are you doing anything for Camp NaNo? Am I too ambitious? How are you surviving through edits? Do you like updates or how-to and informational posts?

Posts to Expect Soon:

A Camp NaNo help post

3 Acting Tips to Help Your Character Come to Life

Photography things

Beautiful People #22: Couples Edition (ft. Competitive People)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the part of the show when I bring in two couples, each from different books, each claiming not to be a couple, and each saying that Valentine’s Day is long over. Please give around of applause to Kamri/Mason from Halfway to 14 and Kaelin/Trey from Fantasy Gossip! *better titles may be coming soon* *click names for pictures, not mine (I wasn’t able to show the web links without spamming up the page with random images, so if these are yours and you would like a photo credit let me know)*

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_n1. How and why did they meet?

Kamri: *glares at Kaelin, realizing that Kaelin goes better with Mason* Well, me and Collin–

Mason: Collin’s not here.

Kamri: I know, but he’s part of that story. Besides that, me and Collin–

Trey: You mean Collin and I.

Kamri: Stop it! I don’t even know you! Fine, Collin and I were in the tree house, long story short, it broke and along with it my ankle and then–

Mason: You broke your ankle?

Kamri: Yes! Now let me finish. So, Mason had just gotten home from smart camp or whatever and then was really shady to Collin. He introduced himself, but didn’t really talk to me. What did happen to your tree house?

Mason: We’re rebuilding it. Anyway, it’s Kaelin and Trey’s turn.

Kaelin: Oh, I have to talk now, don’t I?

Trey: You’ll be fine.

Kaelin: Well, it was our first year, a few months in. We had seen each other a few times in classes, but we never really talked until he sat down at my table in the cafeteria and bet me that his dragon could beat Steve’s in a race. Apparently he’d given it a speed drink thing.

Trey: Sounds about right. But for the readers who don’t know, the dragons are teeny tiny, and everyone has one. They fit right in your palm.

2. What were their first impressions of each other?

Trey: Well, I’d noticed her around, and she was bored, and I was bored, so…

Kaelin: Some kid who was a little out of it.

Mason: Some pretty blonde who was at my house alone with Collin.

Kamri: Collin’s uptight brother who looks nothing like him. (Turns out, Collin’s adopted.) And you called me pretty again…

3. How would they prove their love for each other?

Kaelin: I… I didn’t know this was going to get all mushy.

Kamri: It is couple’s edition, apparently.

Mason: I say we skip this one.

Trey: Agreed.

Kamri: Of course, you know, it was our idea. ‘Member us, from the original Camp NaNo Novel?

Trey: Best for last. Besides, we’re plot driven. You’re character driven.

Kaelin: What’s wrong with character?

Kamri: *rolls eyes* Even the enemy agrees with us.

4. What would be an ideal date?

Mason: Not that I’ve thought about it, but I think all we ever do with just each other is study.

Kamri: Very true, but since this is COUPLE’S EDITION and we are the closest thing our author has to a couple *glares at Kaelin/Trey* what would it be?

Mason: Bowling.

Kamri: *laughs* Alright.

Trey: Dragon racing.

Kaelin: I would’ve said a nice dinner in the real world.

Trey: Well, since none of us are couples, and there are some obvious problems going on between us, how about we switch? You know, pretend to be in love and make up all these fake stories?

Kamri: Bad idea.

Kaelin: What if there was an escape question we didn’t want to answer? Like the previous one, which we already decided to skip?

Mason: That sounds good– just don’t tell anyone.

Kaelin: Wow, you got really rebellious really fast.

Kamri: That’s what he does.

5. Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Kamri: Off topic, but turns out your story was partially inspired by our old one.

Kaelin: Just answer the question… seriously.

Mason: We disagree on a lot of things. Like, how much work should go into our homework projects, whose house to go over…

Kamri: *whispers to Mason* What does emphatically disagreeing mean?

Mason: Strongly.

Kamri: Oh, not much, not till later in the novel. Over stupid things, anyway. Your turn.

Trey: I dunno. Clara?

Kaelin: Shush! You know I like her too. We’re roommates, I kind of have to.

6. List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

Mason: What? Not fair.

Kamri: I eat at your house all the time!

Mason: Right. You will eat, like everything, you’re always hungry but you don’t have a big appetite, you hate grape juice, love raw butter, and string cheese.

Kamri: You just made the last two up. Besides, I hate soggy pancakes. If Collin was here, he would have known that.

Mason: He’s not your fake boyfriend, though, he’s my brother.

Kamri: Yeah, but we’ve known each other longer.

Trey: You love fruit, and chocolate, will only have tea with a lot of honey, contrariwise only coffee without creamer, and enjoy throwing food at my face.

Kaelin: I didn’t know you knew what contrariwise meant, but yes, correct…

7. What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

Kaelin: I know that your parents died.

Trey: I know about your real secret writings. The ones you hide so Clara doesn’t push you to publish them and get you in deeper trouble.

Kaelin: *blushes* You’re not supposed to.

Trey: Yet you never write about me for that reason.

Kamri: I can see how you struggle to fit in. When we’re disagreeing, it’s so obvious you feel you have a standard to live up too.

Mason: I know where you live.

Kamri: One, that sounds creepy because no one will understand it, and two, Collin knew about it first. Pick another one.

Mason: Seriously? I know you keep the fact that you’re bilingual from your Spanish teacher, if that counts. And you’ve told me more boarding school stories. Along with the whole “not caring act”, you really do care, even if you don’t know it.

8. What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

Trey: About all the drama that goes on with my friends.

Kaelin: *muffled* That I like you even though there’s a reason we’re on couples edition and I think you like Clara instead.

Mason: I don’t have many secrets, but sometimes I keep a diary, if that counts.

Kaelin: Really? That’s literally the center of my story.

Kamri: My turn now… the same thing I keep from everyone, about my family life.

9. How would their lives be different without each other?

Kaelin: I would be really bored all the time.

Trey: I wouldn’t have an escape from the drama. With you, that’s just… gone. Despite the fact that you know everyone’s drama.

Kamri: I probably wouldn’t trust anyone. Ever.

Mason: Kamri… makes me think and feel in ways I didn’t know were possible.

Wow, that was really poetic, you guys… except for Kaelin’s–and she’s the writer.

10. Where do they each see this relationship going?

Trey: Relationship?

Kaelin: Relationship?

Mason: Relationship?

Kamri: Relationship?

Kaelin: We should use our escape question.

Kamri: Agreed. Kaelin/Mason and Kamri/Trey.

Mason: Alright, Kaelin, let’s do this!

Trey: Hey, Kamri… will you fake go out with me?

Kamri: Why not?

Trey: Well, Kamri and I have been fake dating for a long time now, so I suspect when we’re of age we’ll marry.

Kamri: What?!

Trey: We’re pretending.

Kaelin: I don’t know anything about you…

Mason: Just pretend.

Kaelin: I have a feeling we’re going to break up after this so we can each go back to our own stories, because it is way past Valentine’s Day.

Mason: Fair enough.

That’s it, guys! Did you enjoy seeing my April Camp NaNo characters fight, or was it just me? There were a lot of inside jokes in there that you would only get if you’ve read the books… that don’t exist yet. Anyway, I’ll posting around the first week of March the official descriptions of these novels. I also have realized that except for Mission: Prodigy, I’ve never really explained what my books are about. Whoops.