Monday, October 4, 2010

Writing Tip: Be The Cheater

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Okay. Now for my writing tip. 

I know I say this on my personal blog a lot, but I'm a huge TV fan. Obsessed, some would say (don't listen to them...). I like to think I've learned a ton about writing through the screen. And today I'm going to give you an example.

Ladies and gents, I give you The Boreanaz:

That, my friends, is actor David Boreanaz. He starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is currently on Fox's hit, Bones. His character on the Fox show is an FBI agent who was once a Marine. He is related to John Wilkes Booth (not a great reputation...), and is the father of an adorable boy who asks a lot of questions. 

In real life, David Boreanaz is a cheater.

Yep. He cheated on his wife. Multiple times. And I stopped liking him.

Until I sat down to watch an episode of Bones, like I do every Thursday at 8pm. The man on screen wasn't David Boreanaz, folks. He was Agent Booth, the ex Marine who falls for a forensic anthropologist and keeps quiet about it. The man who has a ton of insecurities, but hides them with a smile. The man who fights the bad guys every day and doesn't wince when a gun is pointed at him. 

Suddenly, it dawned on me. I love Agent Booth.

But I hate The Boreanaz. 

That's why this week I'm telling you to be The Boreanaz--be the cheater. Whether you're writing in first person or third, you must get into your character's mind. You are not you when you're writing. You are someone else. You leave you at the door and get to work. 

You need to make your readers believe that someone else is real (in The Boreanaz's case, he needs his viewers to forget about the cheating scandal and focus on Agent Booth, who would never cheat. Not even on a Calculus quiz). How do you do that? Think about how that someone else would feel if X or Y happened to him/her. How does he/she see the world? What's their biggest fear? Do they want justice? World peace? To slap Lindsay Lohan?

This process, what I like to call channeling your character's voice, is tough. But it can be done. Maybe not on the first try, or the second, or third. But someday, you'll get it right... just like The Boreanaz. 

Now tell me: what do you do when your characters aren't speaking to you?


  1. Great post! When I was in college, I had the hugest crush on Charlie Sheen. Then I heard about the hookers and cocaine and was EW! And now he's even more shifty in real life! But yet he's highest paid actor on a sitcom! People definitely can separate the two. Except for maybe Mel Gibson...he may be just too much of an a-hole to get back into the public's good graces.

  2. Wow, great tip! I sometimes insert too much of myself in my characters and that's what I'm trying to fix as I delve into my third revision. Thanks! :)

  3. I sulk! LOL!!!

    But seriously - great post! It's very hard to like a character when you don't like the actor but it's a great way to channel lots of character voice to make your mc believable and complex! Thanks for a thoughtful post! Take care

  4. This is absolute brilliance, Amparo!

    Where do you get all this cleverness? *makes a note to follow Amparo to the fountain of cleverness next time*

    Also, add to this list of cheaters Jude Law. Broke my heart, Jude. Broke my heart. But I'll still watch him on the big screen because *swoon*

  5. Ha! What a great way to look at "becoming" your characters. HATE the Boreanaz, LOVE the Booth. It's a great chant or logo. LOL! ;)

  6. hi mr amparo! you got some really good ideas that could help make characters lots better. for me right now i dont have trouble with my mc talking to me cause im my mc. ha ha. im some worried cause in my next book im gonna have a girl be my mc and mostly i dont like girls so she probably not gonna want to talk to me much. maybe i could bribe her with candy. ha ha.
    ...smiles from lenny

  7. Great way to look at it! Totally gave me a new look into my writing and my characters.

  8. I love this post because we recently reviewed Deja Dead (a Bones book that the TV show is based on) on the OhSoCleverReads blog. It was a book we labeled DNF. I like the TV show - but not the book. Kinda like your Agent Booth vs. Boreanaz thing.


    I review books here:
    and here:


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