The Author as an Actor

This post was written by our guest blogger Raissa Claire R. Falgui. As she explains in her post, Raissa writes in English and Filipino. She has published books for adults, young adults and children. She currently works as an editor at Milflores Publishing

Raissa R Falugi profile image

Ang isang awtor para ding aktor na kailangan makapasok sa katawan ng kanyang mga tauhan at maramdaman ang kanilang dapat nararamdaman sa sitwasyon na sinulat para sa kanila.

An author is also like an actor who must get into the skin of his characters and feel what they need to feel in a situation written for them.

This is how I ended my review of the manuscript we were given to read in a recent seminar on editing in Filipino that I attended.

Not long afterwards, I had to go through my works in both Filipino and English for a project I’m working on (and also due to Google Drive’s warnings that I was close to exceeding my limit). I have more works in English and write with more elegance in the language for the simple reason that I have been exposed to a much, much larger body of literary works in it, being a bookworm child of two English teachers. But my Filipino works, all of which are for children, aren’t too bad (though bilingual and translated by myself, my book Hating Kapatid was written in Filipino as the idiom it centers on demanded). In either language, though, I don’t think the quality of my language is particularly impressive. Not if you are seeking richness of vocabulary and figures of speech. My style focuses on simple functionality, as I taught my students, drawing from the 5 C’s of Richard Lederer & Richard Dowis’s stylebook The Write Way: The S.P.E.L.L. Guide to Real-Life Writing that I adhere to which means being Clear, Correct, Concise, Coherent, and Considerate.

The covers of some of Raissa's books

In fiction, my style varies depending on which character’s point of view I am taking. So perhaps I am more of a virtual actor than a verbal stylist. I struggle more with stringing words together when writing essays. When I write fiction, the characters take over. Even if I’m writing third person, I am so immersed in the experiences and feelings of my imaginary people once they come to life that I just get caught up in setting down everything without letting my perfectionist self-editing consciousness get in the way. More than that, entering so deeply in the story that it feels real to me allows me to draw my readers as deeply into it as well.

I suppose there are people who are able to write a story well while staying outside of it. But this is my way. I may not have breathtaking skill with words, but this is my gift. I am not going to call myself an empath lest I get compared to the awful sister in the most recent adaptation of Persuasion. Anyway, the words you use for things are less important than how you actually use the things, the technique in this case. And it works for me; in fact, it’s the only way I can really write.

6 Comments

  1. “An author is also like an actor who must get into the skin of his characters”. This is very true, I feel, and apposite for me at the moment. My first book was written in the pandemic when getting into dreamy mode was easy, and I wrote characters springing from myself and my experience. I was most certainly into their skin.
    Now I tackle book 2. No longer in the pandemic but in the busy, real world again, and I am a step away from my comfort zone with new characters less like me, simply because they have to be different from my previous characters. The research, the basic plot, the background, it is all there, but I know I have not yet stepped into the characters’ skins and know I cannot write the story until I have.

    • Raissa

      I know what you mean. I am now back in a full-time job which is making it hard for me to find time to write. Still have to work that out. Good luck in writing your next book!

  2. I’ve often thought actors and writers have things in common but I wonder if it’s more a desire to escape our own lives rather than inhabit another.

    • Raissa

      You may be right about that, Gail!

  3. I’m always impressed by people who can write creatively – and successfully – in two or more different languages. I’ve never been able to get myself to the stage of even thinking about trying to write creatively in my second language, Swedish. But maybe I should try taking the 5 Cs to heart and focus, as you suggest, on simple functionality. I wonder what I might achieve.

    • Raissa

      Focusing on purpose is importat, along with connecting eith the reader. Which usually serves your purpose too, come to think of it.

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