William Mize (willmize) wrote in writing_tricks,
William Mize

Whisper In Their Ear

This is my first posting to this community; and I guess it's about time since it was my offhanded comment that caused it to exist. But much, much love and kudos goes to lisaloo for actually taking the initiative to make it happen.
Maybe I'm just an idea guy :>

My posts will be in one of two areas, fiction writing or inspirational/self-improvement.
This one will be for all the fiction writers out there. My speciality is mysteries, but this applies to anyone who writes fiction, I'm sure.

Some of you may be familiar with The Actor's Studio, a famous acting traning school for such luminaries as, well, almost anyone - let's say James Dean for right now. Lisa is more than welcome to elaborate :>
One of the most famous instructors at the studio was Lee Strasberg. And Strasberg was famous for getting the best out of every actor. Here's one of his tricks that you can use in your writing before you start a scene.
Strasberg would take each actor in the scene aside and whisper in their ear. Let's say the scene was about something relativly innocuous, maybe buying a loaf of bread.
In one actor's ear he would whisper "You have just found out that your wife is cheating on you with your best friend."
In another actor's ear he would whisper "You have just come back from your mother's funeral."
Now in the scene, character A wants to buy a loaf of bread. He's pissed off. Character B is probably pretty upset and may not be the most efficient bread seller on the planet right now. Character A will probably have the shortest fuse in existence. Character B will probably be pretty raw and exposed, and will also have a short fuse, for an entirely different reason. Character A will be mad at the world. Character B will want some sympathy and compassion.

This creates CONFLICT. This creates EMOTION. Conflict and emotion sells books.

Many of my scenes involved sleuths investigating crime and ferreting out clues. Can you see how by whispering something into each of their ear they might have very different emotional states while going about gathering that info?

What are you going to whisper into the ear of each of your characters at the beginning of the scene? Take time to think about it. What do they want? What is driving them? What emotional state are they in? What's boiling just beneath the surface?

Go ahead. Whisper.

(c)2002 William Mize
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