You’ve probably heard of “method acting.”
From Wikipedia: Method acting is any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances.
I can’t act my way out of a paper bag, but I am a fan of method writing. I find it incredibly helpful and inspiring to immerse myself in my characters’ lives. Their hobbies and their passions and their cultures. Let me give you an example…
I recently shared a bit about my WiP, Cross My Heart, in a post called The Next Big Thing. I mentioned that the story’s main character, Jillian, aspires to be a pastry chef. It probably goes without saying, but this aspect of the story was a lot of fun to research. I found two food blogs in particular that were incredibly helpful: Brown Eyed Baker and Eat, Live, Run. I learned a lot about basic food preparation, the science of baking, and the art of presentation.
Of course, all of this food-themed reading and research lit a fire of inspiration under me, and I found myself wanting to bake. Often.
So I did.
And every time I stepped into my kitchen and the world of yeast and coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips, I found myself connecting on a deeper level with Jillian. I felt the same contentment I imagine she feels when she’s among her rolling pins and pie pans and spatulas. I fell in love with the process of measuring and mixing and tasting, just like Jillian. I felt a sense of pride when presenting my treats to family and friends, just as Jillian does in the story.
I attribute the five pounds I gained while rewriting Cross My Heart to Jillian and her love of pastries, and you know what? They were totally worth it. Diving into my main character’s passion not only made my manuscript more authentic, but I also discovered a new hobby, one I’ll continue to foster long after my revision is complete.
Tell Me: Do you METHOD WRITE?
28 thoughts on “Method Writing”
I absolutely love to bake! It shows, unfortunately. And it doesn’t help that my husband loves my baking so he begs for it and compliments me profusely. *sigh* I could totally get into method writing….as long as I don’t turn to thriller or something!! LOL I’d love to read that book, Jillian sounds like my kinda girl!
Thanks, Nicole! I sincerely HOPE you get to read it one day. 🙂 My husband is always telling me to STOP baking, though he never does manage to turn down a treat. 🙂
I love this. I started method writing a bit in March. The MC in my novel learns hand-to-hand combat. I started by researching it and couldn’t find a style I liked. Then I saw that my YMCA offers a body combat class that incorporates all different types of martial arts. I’ve been (trying) to take it twice a week, and every time I feel like I become a little more like Vic. I love it.
I’m not sure how anyone could write hand-to-hand combat authentically without at least TRYING it out. Kuddos to you for diving into a class and finding a new hobby, and for better channeling your MC. 🙂
I love this post! It’s so cool how research for your writing also turned into a non-writing hobby. Now I am looking forward even more to authentic descriptions of baking and food in your WIP. 🙂
My husband is an actor (thank god he turns the method off around the house–most of the time), and learning about how he prepares for his work has helped me with writing. I haven’t really tried any method writing myself, but you’re inspiring me to.
I bet it’s cool to have an actor for a hubby. Or… maybe not? Mine would probably drive me nuts trying to mess with me. 🙂 At least you get to use yours to your writing advantage! Good luck with method writing in the future. 🙂
I’ve never even thought about doing this before but you’ve inspired me! The MC in my new WIP is an artist, so I’m going to get out the paint and give it a try 🙂 Thanks for the fun idea!
Painting sounds like fun, especially when you know it’s going to stretch your creativity and improve your story. Hope it’s helpful, Rebecca!
Love this post! I think method writing is necessary for some aspects of character or story. Imagination and research can only take you so far. I wrote a short story once where the main character shoots a shotgun. Before that, I’d never held any kind of gun. I asked my boss at the time, who was an avid hunter, to teach me. It definitely helped with the writing!
I bet it did! We all know what shooting a gun LOOKS like, but to feel the kickback and smell the gunpowder and hear that shot… It’s got to be one of those things you have to experience first hand.
Well, I’m pretty sure all of your books need to have a character who bakes or else your family might get a little disappointed. (By the way, I love Jenna’s blog. I’ve been reading it for years and her recipes keep getting better if that’s possible.)
I do the same thing, method writing, that is. I do it consciously by acting the scenes as the character–this helps a lot with dialog–though I make sure I’m home alone first. 🙂 But I do it on a subconscious level, too. My MC loves astronomy and suddenly it’s like this new thing I love.
Yes, I’m a big fan of Jenna’s now. I really want to get her book!
I’ve been known to do a little acting out too, but like you, I do it ONLY when I’m alone. I can only imagine how my husband would look at me if he caught me!
I’ve never done something like this, though it makes sense to do it. So cool that you found a new hobby while researching for your book! 🙂
If I’m at a place that strikes me as very similar to a setting I want, I’ll try to remember little details and remember what I feel while I’m there.
I like to visit my settings (or someplace similar) when possible too. It’s so much easier for me to write about a place I’ve seen with my own eyes!
I really like the idea of method writing. I think it should be the next new thing.
Me too, Kirsten! 😉
Mmm. Baked goods.
So far my characters have all done things I have done in the past or do anyway. But I should expand their interests just so I can try some new things!
I think my next character is going to be a runner, which isn’t exactly expanding my horizons, but at least it’ll keep me in shape. 🙂
I´m sure your hubby really appreciated that your character enjoys baking 🙂 This looks so so sooooooo yummy!
I did ballet when I was much younger and I retrained a little with a DVD in my home as I was writing, to feel the way the muscles react and just the movement through the fingertips…
Oh and there´s a bit of tequila in my book and while I didn´t reenact, I remember what it feels like waking up after drinking too much Jose Cuervo 😛
Great post, Katy!
Ha! Next time I have a Bud Light too many, I’m totally going to call it method writing. 🙂
Love the idea of restarting your ballet practice, Elodie. I bet that retraining really shows in your manuscript.
What a great idea 🙂 I hadn’t really thought of doing this, but it’s a good way to get inside your character’s head and make him/her more real. It makes me wonder if I need to make my characters more interesting and give them some fun hobbies and/or aspirations. Thanks for the great idea, Katy! 🙂
Gladly, Jaime! I hope you find a fun new hobby for you (and your characters!) to try. 🙂
I am a total method actor, and while I don’t PLAY football, I definitely watch a lot of it so I guess that counts? 🙂 Also, not that I’m any kind of baking whiz, but you totally sold me on your cooking expertise, to the point I would’ve NEVER guessed this was something you learned for this story. Meaning – I thought you had years of experience under your apron. WOW.
Great post, Katy! Super relevant to the writing process!
Thanks, Alison! That’s a HUGE compliment! I’ve always liked baking, but I never really did much more than chocolate chip cookies. Jillian introduced me to a whole new world!
This sounds like the best kind of method writing. Those treats look so yummy!
Thanks, Ghenet! It’s definitely been a fun hobby to dive into!
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