Friday, July 31, 2009

Characters Offstage

I recently attended a rehearsal at a professional theatre where I learned that Actors' Equity, the actors' union, insists that the theatre provide actors with a place to rest or to "be" when they are not onstage. It's called the "Green Room."

Now, in looking at my fictional work, I am thinking about where my characters go or what they are doing when they are not "onstage." They've got to be busy doing something; they are human, after all. Perhaps if I pay more attention to their "offstage" activities, they will burst, sneak or run into the scene, sweaty from an activity they have just completed. Maybe they'll show up with sticky hands or smelly feet. Maybe they'll have hayseeds in their hair or track mud in the house. And my "onstage" characters will react - better.

It's something to consider.


  1. I like the idea of a "green room" for our characters. What are they doing when we're not writing about them? We should know, or at least have some idea, of what they'd be up to. Paula Danziger once said she had to know what her character's closet looked like. It's the same idea of being inside the head of your character.

  2. Authors need "green rooms" too! Sometimes it's interesting to see what ideas pop onto the page after I've spent "rest" time not writing.

  3. That's why character sketches can be so useful. Your finished novel may never mention what your MC's favorite song is, that he broke his am in second grade, or that he only changes his underwear every other day, but knowing all of this adds flavor and depth to writing.

  4. Did they also tell you that green rooms are almost never green? ;)