The Woolf: Using POV as a Mask

I’m excited to announce I’ve just had another article published in The Woolf, Zürich’s premier English language e-magazine on writing.

Writers are very used to thinking about the various styles of POV as means to deliver information but often ignore their power to hide it. In the Masks edition of The Woolf, I take a deeper look at POV as a tool for mystery and subterfuge. If you’re interested, follow the link below.

MASKS

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On Method Writing

A number of weeks ago, I came across an article from BBC reporter Steven McIntosh titled Could ‘Method Writing’ be the Future for Novelists? The article, like many articles about writing, made me reflect on my own practice and I realized that I am, in a sense, a method writer.

Before we can begin to understand what method writing is, we need to mention method acting. Focusing on the popular Strasburg Method, the quick description of a method actor is that they physically and mentally live or have lived in a way that mirrors the character they are portraying to some degree.  Think of it as collecting experiences to draw from. This is thought to help the actor understand their character more deeply and thus provide a more accurate, compelling portrayal.

A light  version of these methods could include learning an instrument or taking up fencing. Some actors take it to the extreme and never break character for the entirety of the shoot. Daniel Day-Lewis is famous for doing this with pretty much every character he plays. Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York was especially hard to be around. He learned to throw knives, gut carcasses, and got into real fights in parking lots.

Now, let me be clear. If I ever write a story about being stranded in the desert, I will not be drinking my own pee in order to understand the experience. Nor have I become an opium addict for my current WIP (spoiler alert?). I am no Daniel Day-Lewis but I will say that many of the lighter concepts behind method acting have worked their way into my writing without my knowledge. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that much of it has been there from the start. Continue reading

Use This for That : The Myers-Briggs Test for Character Development

During one of my weekly writing group sessions, our host, outstanding author Hazel Manuel  brought up an idea that she and another of our colleagues discussed at a recent lunch (I’d name the other person but I haven’t been able to ask permission yet). This idea was to use the Myers-Briggs Test as a way to define the personalities of the characters in our stories.

So what’s the Myers-Briggs Test?

The Myers-Briggs is a personality test that was developed by mother/daughter dynamic duo of psychology Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers which expanded on theories first put forth by psychoanalyst Carl Jung. It uses a series of questions to place aspects of one’s personality into definable categories.

Each of the categories are assigned two letters of which the test taker will receive one depending on how the questions are answered. After all scoring is complete the subject will have a four letter code that can be used to further examine parts of their personality.

The letter pairs and their root words are:

Extraversion – Introversion

Sensing-INtuition

Thinking-Feeling

Judging-Perceiving

When I took this free online version myself, I discovered my code was ENTP. This wasn’t surprising. I’ve taken the test as part of various staff meeting activities in the past with similar if not the results. Repeatable results are the cornerstone of good science!

Now what does this have to do with our characters? Continue reading