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Writers or Actors, or Both

Updated on June 26, 2013
Sylvia- Stage Play-0155a from Gerald Hawkins
Sylvia- Stage Play-0155a from Gerald Hawkins
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Source: flickr.com
Writer from [d3wret] a-uto-hide flickr.com
Writer from [d3wret] a-uto-hide flickr.com
Anthony_Cleopatra-26 from Alfred (Gene) Lewis flickr.com
Anthony_Cleopatra-26 from Alfred (Gene) Lewis flickr.com
Pain and Suffering from Michael Kovich flickr.com
Pain and Suffering from Michael Kovich flickr.com
You need to overcome from Martin Vogt flickr.com
You need to overcome from Martin Vogt flickr.com

Writers or Actors, or Both

By Tony DeLorger © 2011


I had a conversation with a fellow Hubber the other day about the possibility that suffering and strife in this earthly experience adds to the quality of a writer’s work. In thinking about it, I tend to agree. Perhaps not quality but authenticity is a better way of describing this advantage.

When we write we must have a commitment and understanding of the subject matter. That is why we write best about the subjects we already know. Life experience gives authenticity and credibility to the writer, and of course the more we experience the more we can write about with this advantage. Suffering on an emotional level can give us the opportunity to gain strength of character and to learn about ourselves and the world in a more complete way. This can add another dimension to a writer’s work.

I remember lecturing to a writer’s group on fiction writing some years ago, when this question came up. It was about writing a character that was far removed from personal experience or understanding. A woman was writing a book that required getting into the head of a murderer who commitment heinous mutilations. She just couldn’t relate so she had trouble writing.

In fiction, we as writers need to become actors. We need to be able to imagine anything and everything possible to convey realism in our words. If we are writing about some monster, we need to become the monster, at least in our imagination. We need to immerse ourselves in another reality to describe the emotions, feelings and reality of that character. Without this ability characters become robotic and lifeless.

However unpleasant, fleshing out characters in fiction writing must be done, and in minute and explicit detail. We must be able to overcome our personal inhibitions and prejudices to write competently about our characters. The example I gave this woman was about eating babies. No-one could of course relate to such a thing, and it is horrendous to think about it. But if you did have to write about it, how would you?

Writing fiction isn’t for the faint-hearted. We are driven by imagination and that imagination should have no bounds, otherwise our work just becomes a reflection of us, as limited as that can be. We have to surpass our morality, biases and beliefs to render a blank canvass on which to paint our characters, so they are as individual as we are.

Limiting characters by guiding them through our eyes alone is no advantage and we need to go deeper. As writers we need to get to the core of us to unleash the possibility of our imaginations, however difficult that may be. Freedom of thought and creativity is paramount for fiction writing and being able to relate to personal experience a huge plus.

So if you want to be a fiction writer, get amongst it and suffer a little; in the end it all helps in the process. Depth is perceivable in the work of a writer; that is why many writers become successful in their later life. So keep plugging and don’t cut off your ear for just anyone.


The journey of a writing is both introspective and open to a world of critics. However we, the imagination of possibilities are by process, the most blessed, because of what passes through us. Experience is our greatest source of sustenance and sharing thoughts through the written word our greatest gift.

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    • Tony DeLorger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony DeLorger 

      7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Glad you appreciated it Kim. Fiction writing is one of my writing loves and like you, I like to understand all sides of humanity. Thanks for reading and commenting

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      7 years ago

      I love this Tony. Thanks for the tips. I'm amazed at how many hubs you're cranking out and your score is 100 right now! I read a book while vacationing on the beach about developing characters. I love the whole topic. It's consistent with my interest in understanding people and human behavior. I think we have a thread of common interest in that regard, Tony. This hub was very useful. I've only done 2 fiction hubs and plan to do more. Thanks.

    • Tony DeLorger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony DeLorger 

      7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks Michelle. Yes its the only way I know how to flesh out solid characters. As with writing plays, it's always a good idea to have a detailed bio for each main character; the more detail the better. Then you write with knowledge and conviction. It always shows. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MichelleA2011 profile image

      Michelle 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Another wonderful Hub! And I agree with you about getting into the mind of your character, knowing them, understanding them, going outside of who you are and how you would respond in situations. When creating my main characters for my novel, I got into their heads by conducting interviews with them. I answered the questions in the voices of my characters. Although not all of the questions/responses were usable in the novel, they still gave me insight into who they were. Using a book about creating characters I completed Mini-Bios and an Emotional mini-bio, another way of getting to know my characters. Once I know them as well as I can, I just let the control go and let the characters tell the story. It's an amazing feeling!

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