J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

If you’ve been pretty regular about reading my blog posts (thank you if you have, it means a lot to me!) you’ll know that I love theater. I’ve done a decent amount of productions and have been blessed to have seen more than my fair share of Broadway productions. As my writing and acting matured, I began to discover the connections between the two that have helped me reach a deeper connection with my work. It’s something that’s been on my mind for awhile, and I’m glad to finally be able to share it with you.File_000

In my most recent production, I played a cop from Boston (you can see the picture of me off to the right). It was really a ton of fun, and soon after I started writing The Scavenger. One of the main characters in the book is a detective in New York. As I started developing his character, I began to fall back on the research I did for the production. It helped give me an idea of how cops realistically interact and how they think. When I realized what I was doing subconsciously, I saw how much theater is connected to writing and how much it can really add to developing characters.

For every role I take on in a show, I make sure to do research into where my characters lives, who they’re friends are, what makes them tick. We should really be doing the same thing for our writing. And when I perform onstage, I think the character’s thoughts.  For a short period of time, I am another person. I do the same thing in my book. A good writer inserts themselves into their character’s shoes and types how they would act, what they would think. It’s virtually the same thing for theater, but we’re performing the actions rather than writing them down.

This revelation has helped me on many occasions throughout my journey to complete The Scavenger. A more prominent example came when I was trying to write a scene in which one of my characters gives a long monologue. I was having some difficulties making it flow naturally – it seemed really choppy and more like I was giving exposition than a heartfelt confession. That’s when I had the idea for myself to give the monologue. At the time, I was home alone. So I closed my eyes and placed my mind into that of my character. Then, I picked up my phone and recorded the monologue myself. I didn’t use it word-for-word, but it helped smooth out the interaction and give me an idea of how it would naturally flow. So if anyone finds a weird voice-memo on my phone about marijuana – there’s the explanation!

I just felt like I needed to get that down onto paper. Both writing and theater have played huge parts in my life and I feel like I needed to express my love for both of them. Story-telling is a wonderful thing. There are so many venues to share your ideas, but these just happen to be my personal favorites. There’s something about getting the chance to portray someone who isn’t real (both on paper and onstage) that’s simply magical.

If you’re a fellow theater buff, let me know! I love talking musicals and productions of all kinds.

What do you think of my thoughts on the connection between theater and writing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Keep working hard!

— J. L. Willow

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