Tricks of the Trade: Method Writing

One of the few things I know about acting is Stanislavski’s method concept, where performers conjure up emotions from their real life experiences to channel into a scene.

The first time I heard of using method to write was a few years ago when I took a workshop with the San Antonio Romance Authors.

Whoa.

Hold on.

Clarification:

  1. We were talking about how to write believable sadness, embarrassment, glee, etc. There were no method romance examples. (Thank goodness, because I’m kind of a prude. My memoir could be called “Fifty Shades of Red,” because that’s how many I’d turn if someone was explaining how they used method writing for a love scene. Gah!)
  2. I took the workshop because they said the information could apply to all fiction writers. (Which was mostly true, except I laughed all the way through the lesson on conflict: “If your main character is an environmentalist, make her love interest a land developer that she hates at first, but then…”) Haha, I’m laughing again just typing that! Anyway, as you can probably tell, I’d be terrible at writing romance.

So, this woman came in and talked about method writing. The example she used was when she needed to describe her character’s humiliation. She channeled a memory from high school, when she was on student council and assigned to give the new boy – who ended up being the new BMOC – a tour. She had a major crush on him and worked up the courage to ask him to the homecoming dance. He said yes. The night of the dance, he stood her up. And he basically ignored her for the rest of their high school years. She used her own feelings from the experience for the scene she was writing. (For the record, she told us that guy eventually apologized for being such a tool.)

How have I used method writing?

My main character in “There With You,” Shannon, has an enemy in the school’s head cheerleader, Emma. There was one cheerleader in high school who was a real bitch to me, along with one fellow dance team member. Let me tell you – it was A LOT of fun to write Shannon’s interactions with Emma. Through Shannon, I get to express everything I was thinking (but never said) back in my day.

At one point, Shannon is confused about her feelings toward Mark. The fun came when I got to write her jealousy. I used the time that the guy I liked dated my friend after I introduced them when we were all hanging out as a group. Oh man, I hated both of them so much! I basically turned evil until they fizzled out, so let’s just say Shannon isn’t pleasant, either. 🙂

Your turn

If you had to write a jealousy scene, what would you use to go method?

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One thought on “Tricks of the Trade: Method Writing

  1. I would have to recall when I was in the 8th grade and there were a bunch of popular kids going to Cotillion as a group, but also paired off as dates. I had never been asked to Cotillion although I was a member. (Back then, you didn’t go without another member as a date, and girls did not ask guys). A friend of mine had moved to Pennsylvania and was coming to stay with me for a while to visit. While she was here, one of the guys in the group asked her to Cotillion and I ended up staying home that night while she went with the group. She even wore one of my dresses. I was crushed.

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