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Laurie2
August 8th, 2008, 09:03 AM
If you are following along with the exercises you are probably noticing that I am marking up things rather heavily and that there are two things which are getting a lot of attention.

The first area which is important when working with deep point of view is choosing the details you will share with your readers. Sometimes it is tempting to stand outside your character and to describe the scene in which the character finds himself or herself. The problem with this approach is that there is a strong likelihood that you will pick the wrong details to share with the reader, that you will pick the details that would be important to someone OUTSIDE your character, but that are not especially important TO your character. Since deep point of view is about giving the reader AN EXPERIENCE and the conduit of the experience is the character, it follows that you need to choose details that are important to THE CHARACTER.

To be a good detail, one worthy of being included the detail needs to have a purpose. Purposeful details will DO something in your story.


They will serve as a prop...something that your character interacts with in some way. The phone on the desk, which your character answers is an example. The lint on her dress which she picks off is an example. The plush carpet which she tunnels her toe through is an example.
They will inspire a reaction on the part of your character. The reaction can be an emotional one, a physical one, a mental one or a spiritual one. The fog hovering just off the surface of the lake as your hero stands looking out over the mist, barely seeing the distant mountains can be an example of this if you show a mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual reaction to this scene. To be a purposeful detail, or a useful description the detail or group of details in a description needs to be important to your character for some reason.
Once you choose a detail and know why it is important to the character, what it makes them think or feel or how they react to the detail physically or how they interact with it as a prop then your task is to convey this to the reader.

For me at least, I usually have the details BEFORE I know how my character reacts to them. So I have to ask myself, how does this make her/him feel? What does this make him/her think? Does this detail give him or her any physical experiences? Asking the questions OFTEN leads to learning things that I didn't know about my character before...and this in turn leads to greater characterization, deeper stories, stronger backstories.

Jean Kelli
August 8th, 2008, 06:13 PM
Loving the "prop" references. This further brings it back to acting for me. May I suggest that writers on here consider reading a book on Method acting by Stanislavski? All the things Laurie is teaching us to think in terms of is totally synonymous with the way a method actor approaches his or her character and the scenes he or she engages in. Some writers may even like to try dressing in-character when they go to write, to literally help them get into their character's shoes and deep sensory experience...aka deep pov. I did this yesterday and I found that just the act of getting dressed in-character put me where I needed to be when I sat down to write.
Thanks Laurie for reminding me how closely acting and writing are related. I've got to engage the same way when I write as I did when I acted. The level of empathy and deeply focused imagination has to be just as high in writing, if not more, as it is in acting.

P.S. also, in acting, there is this theater game where two actors toss a ball back and forth. The trick is that the person throwing the ball must first say their line before they throw the ball and the other person must catch the ball and then react to what the person said by throwing the ball back to them. The way the actor throws the ball is highly dependent on the emotion involved or the reaction he has to the other actor's throw. The point to this is to teach actors to break the amateur habit of just getting on stage and quickly spitting out their lines, but rather, to realize that every single moment in a scene has to inspire a REACTION, both emotional and physical, and the actor is not allowed to say his line until he first reacts to the other actor. As such, just like Laurie is teaching us here, props are only used in correlation with the character and the audiences understanding of the characters. The props don't just float in space, they are Justified via the characters connection to them. So basically this exercise helps get actors out of SHALLOW pov auto-pilot mode and forces them into the depth of the scene. The better actors get at this, the higher level of emotion they infuse into their performance. This is when craft turns to art.

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 09:58 AM
This is an interesting response. As someone who has very little acting experience and knowledge it is interesting to hear this put into an acting frame of reference.

Given what you've said the book on method acting sounds like an interesting read...which might provide some helpful techniques for getting into deep point of view.

I very much like the idea of tossing the ball back and forth. Writing is much like that in that the writer has the viewpoint character do something. The other character(s) on stage need to react--the reaction is something that the viewpoint character observes and then reacts to...and this fuels the next action...which fuels the next reaction. It could be compared to tossing the ball back and forth.

Envisioning it that way it would look like this. The viewpoint character tosses the ball to another character who responds in some way that the viewpoint character observes. At the point of observation the ball is thrown back and the viewpoint character responds to the observation setting up the next action (ball throw). It is a good analogy. Does make sense that the viewpoint character must observe some reaction on the part of the non-viewpoint character before the ball is thrown back to the viewpoint character. If the non-viewpoint character has no reaction then the interaction is not adding to the story and is probably slowing the pace rather than improving it.


Loving the "prop" references. This further brings it back to acting for me. May I suggest that writers on here consider reading a book on Method acting by Stanislavski? All the things Laurie is teaching us to think in terms of is totally synonymous with the way a method actor approaches his or her character and the scenes he or she engages in. Some writers may even like to try dressing in-character when they go to write, to literally help them get into their character's shoes and deep sensory experience...aka deep pov. I did this yesterday and I found that just the act of getting dressed in-character put me where I needed to be when I sat down to write.
Thanks Laurie for reminding me how closely acting and writing are related. I've got to engage the same way when I write as I did when I acted. The level of empathy and deeply focused imagination has to be just as high in writing, if not more, as it is in acting.

P.S. also, in acting, there is this theater game where two actors toss a ball back and forth. The trick is that the person throwing the ball must first say their line before they throw the ball and the other person must catch the ball and then react to what the person said by throwing the ball back to them. The way the actor throws the ball is highly dependent on the emotion involved or the reaction he has to the other actor's throw. The point to this is to teach actors to break the amateur habit of just getting on stage and quickly spitting out their lines, but rather, to realize that every single moment in a scene has to inspire a REACTION, both emotional and physical, and the actor is not allowed to say his line until he first reacts to the other actor. As such, just like Laurie is teaching us here, props are only used in correlation with the character and the audiences understanding of the characters. The props don't just float in space, they are Justified via the characters connection to them. So basically this exercise helps get actors out of SHALLOW pov auto-pilot mode and forces them into the depth of the scene. The better actors get at this, the higher level of emotion they infuse into their performance. This is when craft turns to art.

Jean Kelli
August 11th, 2008, 12:10 PM
...the challenge of acting is bringing the words on the page to life on the stage, and so in order to do that, actors have to really break down the play or script (or book) and think about the motivations of each character, the goals of each character, the obstacles they face, and how their character is going to approach each obstacle in the scene via interacting with the other characters. All characters want something and are motivated by something and so amateur actors have to learn that their lines are the raft that floats upon the water of their motivations and reacts to the waves or obstacles that come their way. Without conflict there is no story because the conflict is what defines the characters and sets them in motion to achieve their goals. So when actors realize all of these components for the first time and get up on stage to work through the scene "in the moment," suddenly their pacing slows waaaay down (they always start off very speedily spitting their lines out and rushing through the scene) and suddenly they realize that in order to truly understand their character they have to go moment by moment and react to every thing the other character throws at them (the ball).

I'd really had all of this in the back of my mind until you Laurie brought it back to the surface. Writing in this way feels very good, it's wonderful to be truly "in the moment" or "in scene" and not simply spitting out the lines or going through the motions. I definitely think acting and writing and the process of doing them is synonymous only just in reverse: The writer brings the story to life on the page, moment by moment and in real time and via his own characters POV. The actor takes what the writer has written and analyzes it and tries to bring it to life in physical form, moment by moment and in real time and via his own characters POV.

I would think that maybe for most people writing is also like acting in that when you are doing it properly for the first time, you tend to slow WAY down. Do you think that's the case? Maybe all art forms occur this way. I love finding the link between the various art forms and I do think that an artist of any type can learn more about their own art by studying other arts. At least that's my experience.

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 02:17 PM
In a way...actors try to show character emotions, motivations, actions through their portrayal on stage...though authors have the internal landscape of the character to play with as well. It is the internal landscape that deep point of view is most related and reliant on. When writing in deep point of view an author can describe a character's feelings. In acting the character's feelings are shown through body language. I expect that given this acting would be fine training for how to show the feelings of a non-viewpoint character. The things that work on stage to subtley show emotion would work in writing too. But there is a difference to. The difference is that the reader wants the internal...that's why they choose to pick up a book rather than the TV remote or a movie.

The break down that you do in acting sounds very similar to what I do in writing.

I've often described various aspects of writing in artistic terms...there are a lot of similarities there too.

I'm glad the lessons are making sense in terms of acting too. I think the more ways you can relate to something the more you get out of it.


...the challenge of acting is bringing the words on the page to life on the stage, and so in order to do that, actors have to really break down the play or script (or book) and think about the motivations of each character, the goals of each character, the obstacles they face, and how their character is going to approach each obstacle in the scene via interacting with the other characters. All characters want something and are motivated by something and so amateur actors have to learn that their lines are the raft that floats upon the water of their motivations and reacts to the waves or obstacles that come their way. Without conflict there is no story because the conflict is what defines the characters and sets them in motion to achieve their goals. So when actors realize all of these components for the first time and get up on stage to work through the scene "in the moment," suddenly their pacing slows waaaay down (they always start off very speedily spitting their lines out and rushing through the scene) and suddenly they realize that in order to truly understand their character they have to go moment by moment and react to every thing the other character throws at them (the ball).

I'd really had all of this in the back of my mind until you Laurie brought it back to the surface. Writing in this way feels very good, it's wonderful to be truly "in the moment" or "in scene" and not simply spitting out the lines or going through the motions. I definitely think acting and writing and the process of doing them is synonymous only just in reverse: The writer brings the story to life on the page, moment by moment and in real time and via his own characters POV. The actor takes what the writer has written and analyzes it and tries to bring it to life in physical form, moment by moment and in real time and via his own characters POV.

I would think that maybe for most people writing is also like acting in that when you are doing it properly for the first time, you tend to slow WAY down. Do you think that's the case? Maybe all art forms occur this way. I love finding the link between the various art forms and I do think that an artist of any type can learn more about their own art by studying other arts. At least that's my experience.