The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

“What Classes Should I Take To Be A Writer?”

I get asked this question a lot.  I was reminded of my answer by a new student who is an actress…because I think acting is fabulous preparation for writing.  My standard reply is: “Take theater and Journalism.”

Theater because acting teaches you character from the inside-out.  Journalism to learn research, discipline, deadlines, and the ability to capture snapshot-impressions of a situation or locale.  All invaluable skills.  Combine them with careful reading program, and you have a fantastic base for writing.  Plot, you see, is story seen from the outside-in.  Acting, as I suggested, is story from the inside-out.

When you have both of these, you have a valuable tool indeed.
So…watch “The Actor’s Studio” and read interviews with fine actors (not just stars).  Try to grasp the way an actor approaches the creation of character…it may surprise you how applicable their ideas are to writing.

This is even more vital if you wish to write for the screen.  A television or film writer has to remember that real, live human beings have to interpret their words, have to breathe life into their scenes.  We’ll talk more on the specifics of this later, but why not make a list of your all-time favorite actors, and then find interviews where they share their methods of preparation?


ajiotal said...

Thank you soo much for this advice!

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shinkendelfenix said...

Thank you very much for that, I did not suspect a journalism class would be so useful. Has martial arts helped you focus your mind? said...

So much useful data for everyone!