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Writing ‘What You Know’ – And Where to Find It.

August 15th, 2012 by Catharine Ashdown

      ”Write about what you know”.

It’s one of the most common pieces of advice given out to new screenwriters, but what does it mean in practice?

I found this definition of Method Acting useful in enabling writers to make the important distinction between writing about yourself, and writing from your own experiences. (The former being perfectly acceptable if you’ve led an exceptional existence, with the book deal to match):

‘The Method’ refers to the practice of actors drawing on their own experiences or emotional memory.

It combines a careful consideration of the character’s psychological motives with some level of personal identification on the part of the actor, to produce a realistic portrayal of their character’s story.

Substitute ‘actor’ with ‘writer’ and you’ll begin to tap a ready supply of inspiration.

That part of ‘what you know’ on a subconscious level that forms the bedrock of all good stories – and the backbone for an engaging script.

Acting is what I do with who I am.  Harriet Walter

Further Reading: ‘Method – Or Madness?’ by Robert Lewis

‘Other People’s Shoes: Thoughts On Acting’ by Harriet Walter

 

 

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