by Jude McGee
We've all heard of the style of acting taught by the Russian director Konstantin Stanislavsky and the Actor’s Studio -- the kind that famously made monsters out of mild-mannered actors, who became demons and maniacs to play them on the stage.
Well, there is something to that for writers -- at least for this writer. I recently discovered Method Writing. I was stuck, couldn’t get to the next point, and wallowed in the attendant slump. For some reason, I got it into my head to slam around the house as if I were the soon-to-be murderer that I was writing about. I imagined myself in a frenzy of jealousy and betrayal because of a weasel-cheat who was doing me wrong.
I’m not saying this is good for the crockery -- and one lovely gravy boat may have taken one for the team -- but I managed to work up a head of steam in which I found words. Good words. Words that I immediately put into the story. They were fiery words that packed some wallop.
I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes I just fall out of my character. She stops whispering to me, or taking me over. That’s when I call upon Method Writing.
I get myself angry, crazy, to a pitch, thinking about revenge, or the horrific acts that would delight me -- and make me a murderer. I start to write all the mean and nasty thoughts that follow and voila! Soon, I have found my flow again.
But lord help my poor sweet husband who interrupts in the middle of the Method Rage!
If you try this to recapture the life of a character, you may find yourself way out there in a cathartic frenzy of emotions that were lying in wait for just such a moment of power. You’ll feel good, cleansed. You’ll probably have to edit it down. And take a shower. And apologize to innocent bystanders. But it’s all part of Method Writing.
Jude McGee's short story, "Death is Golden," can be found in the anthology Murder in LA-LA Land. Photo courtesy of Amanda Kennedy.