A(nother) Parallel Between Acting & Writing

Acting coach Larry Moss said:

“Acting represents all that human beings experience, and if you want to be “nice” you will never be a serious communicator of the human experience.”

Let’s see if we can substitute “writing” for “acting” and still have it make sense.

Writing represents all that human beings experience, and if you want to be “nice” you will never be a serious communicator of the human experience.” 

Yes, I think that works nicely for me. I certainly want my writing to represent human experience – the best and the worst that is out there.

What does he mean by being “nice”?

Well, I’m sure we have all read the stories or seen the movies or shows which put “nice” ahead of everything else. I’ve been turned off by cheesy, insincere story lines which basically are afraid to be vulnerable. Everything must be wrapped up nice and neat. The fairy tale happy ending. But as we all know, life isn’t like that. Usually.

Is there room for being “nice” and having a happy ending in a story. Absolutely. When the stories requires it! Not just because every story must have it. That is the huge difference.

Honestly, on some levels, I was afraid to embark on this journey as an indie author. I wanted to be, and I strive to be, a serious communicator of the human experience. At first I wondered what a friend or acquaintance might say if my character says this or if my character does that. I had a friend look at me strangely after hearing about my first novel and he wondered out loud to me “whoa, I know what you have been thinking about” as if I, as the author, had the same experience as my character. I understood from the beginning that if my writing would peak at the expectations of others then I would be doomed as a writer. I knew if I couldn’t write about controversial topics or strive to portray people in all their glorious depravity then I wouldn’t be taken as a serious writer. I had to cast off the shackles of other people’s expectations and learn to be free as a writer.

Writing is not about being “nice” but it also isn’t about being gratuitously depraved either. Neither extreme is authentic. Serious writing is about portraying people in stories as they really all – beautiful, complex, ugly, serious, and light. All wrapped together. That’s what I strive to do.

It’s good for acting. It’s good for writing, too.

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