Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mirror, Mirror!

Have you ever seen a movie in which the acting is terrible? The lines seem forced and unreal, the actor’s tones and facial expressions are either too cheesy and cliché or not dramatic at all, and you go away from the movie theater wishing you didn’t waste ten bucks on the ticket. Believe it or not, books can be the same way. We’ve all read books in which we read something (a phrase, an action beat, even the whole plot) that was unrealistic or poorly written. It leaves us thinking, “No way would a person in real life say/do that.” And when a character in a book is unreal, readers don’t get a chance to bond with him or her. And that’s what the main objective in a book is, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but if the character is unreal, says ridiculous things, and “giggles” out her words every four sentences (really, how many times do you “giggle” while you talk?!), chances are, I’ll put the book down, because I can’t connect with her. So, what is one of the things you can do to keep from making this error in your own book or story? Mirror, mirror! I got this idea from Christine Tangvald, a wonderful and enthusiastic writer and writing teacher from Mt. Hermon. I had her edit some of my children’s book, and she suggested that I take my work into the bathroom and act out a scene in a mirror. Before long, I was giggling myself because of the ludicrous and highly cliché things that I had put in my manuscript. By doing this, I was able to fix a lot of things and make them truer to every day life. And yes, there were times where I realized I had to spice things up a bit. It also gives some great ideas for those action beats (character’s actions that go before a quote) in which you can’t figure out what to say. Instead of saying, “She/He scratched his/her head” several times, you will be able to come up with things that have to do with the plot. Things come naturally in the mirror. So, print out your work, head to the place in your house with the largest mirror, and act away. First, though, I would highly recommend you do it when family is not around (that’s another story).

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