My right knee was covered in road rash. My left thigh is still sporting a huge, multi-hued bruise.
(When a bruise actually shows up on a black person, you know it must be bad.)
Anyone who’s read my blog for while knows that I ride my bicycle a lot.
I’m a cycle-commuter – I ride 8km roundtrip to work every day, as well as on various errands and social outings in and around Vancouver, where I live. With the proper outer layers, Vancouver weather is rideable 95% of the year.
Earlier this year, I met a writer who was also an actor, from whom I received some interesting writing advice.
It happened during a session of the writers’ group that I run. At each meeting, we discuss a specific writing-related question that all attendees are given a chance to answer.
The question du jour inquired which element of writing craft folk felt they needed to learn more about.
When it came my turn to answer, I said character voice.
Specifically, the fact that I wanted to someday write a sequel to my WIP from the first person point of view of a different character, but was unsure how to make the voice distinct from the first person narrator of my WIP.
(L-R): Nyima Funk, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway?
Out of all the different types of artistic expression, the artists I seem to befriend most often are actors.
I’m not really sure why this is, for I’m sure as hell no actor. I have no poker face whatsoever, let alone the ability to re-create a given emotion at will, and body movements range from woodenly awkward to determinedly abrupt.
As well, the mechanics and semiotics of acting are largely lost upon me. I can’t really distinguish a “good” performance from a “spectacular” one, and when I watch movies or plays, so long as the story obeys its own internal logic and follows a satisfying story arc, that’s good enough for me.
I’m a writer; I’m far less interested in the performance of a story than I am in the creation of that’s story’s script.
And yet, as different as my actor friends and their art seems to be from me and mine, I’ve come to discover the usefulness one particular actor’s tool can have for writers.
That tool is improvisation.