Lights, Camera, Action.

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
~Sanford Meisner

I have written many times about my love of General Hospital, so it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to attend an event this past weekend with two of its stars, Rebecca Herbst and Scott Reeves. They play Elizabeth and Steve Webber – a fantastic sister and brother duo – and I was quite looking forward to hearing what they had to say about the show. I’d met Becky once before and remembered her as being quiet, but so insightful and sweet at the same time. That was the case on Saturday, too. There’s a grace and graciousness to her that emanates constantly. And Scott, what can I say about Scott? He is also very sweet … and hilarious. As in, laugh-out-loud funny. You can tell that he and Rebecca are great friends, which made for a really fun afternoon with them. They chatted, they answered questions, they cracked jokes, they took pictures and signed autographs, they made everyone feel welcome. I know soap operas catch a lot of flack from some people, but in addition to the actual show, I think this is one of the reasons why they stand apart in a good way – because you can see, literally, how genuinely the actors enjoy meeting and engaging with the fans. It’s an awesome community.

I won’t get into all the details from the Q&A (though I have to share the funniest part – Becky’s reaction to someone suggesting an Elizabeth and Sonny pairing? “Sonny will sneeze on her and she’ll end up pregnant with triplets!” SO. FUNNY.), but I do want to mention something that came up while I was talking to Becky during the meet and greet. As my friend Steph and I were waiting in line, I was trying to decide what to say. I had my talking points, so to speak, for Scott – I wanted to comment on particular scenes of his that he shared with the actress who plays his mother. I wasn’t sure what to single out to speak about with Becky, though … until a few minutes before my turn, when it was one of those light-bulb moments. After she and Scott signed my GH bag and we chatted a bit about the fabulous Robin Mattson, I told Becky how authentic her scenes are, how it doesn’t feel like I’m watching a television show, but rather simply dropping in on someone’s life. Scott said something to the effect of “wow, what a compliment!” and Becky agreed, thanking me and saying how sweet it was.

The whole exchange got me thinking: isn’t it the same with writing? Don’t we put ourselves into our characters’ shoes – into their lives – much the way actors do? Don’t we strive to make them as realistic, as authentic, as true as possible? Don’t we want to create an experience for readers where they feel as though they’re dropping in on someone’s world, rather than watching from afar? I’ve never really considered the similarities between acting and writing before, but I can see now that there are parallels. That the same hallmarks apply. That the same lessons can be learned. No, we don’t have the same visual tactics that actors use, but we can try to achieve the same through our words. We can show instead of tell. We can paint a picture through dialogue and description. We can set a scene. It may not be “lights, camera, action” in the traditional sense, but those elements are still there. The lights illuminate the thoughts whirling through our heads, the ones scrawled out in our writing journals, the ones motivating and inspiring our characters. The cameras are mental instead of physical. They capture a freeze frame in our mind’s eye and we then have the joy of trying to recreate it in words. And action … well, books may play out in 2D instead of 3D, but the action is still there.

Anyone else agree? Or have I just been watching too much GH and it’s gone to my head? :)

Also: completely unrelated, but l’shana tova to everyone celebrating! May your New Year be healthy, happy, and sweet! xoxo


10 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Action.

  1. L’shana tova!

    A) Those are some gorgeous people…

    B) Oh yes, I definitely draw parallels between writing and acting. As a wee girl I sometimes daydreamed about being a famous actress, but the truth is that would be too much spotlight for me. (Also, I’m an O-KAY actress, but nowhere near good enough to make a career of it.) Fortunately I discovered writing at a young age, and I transferred my dreams and passions there. It was a much better fit, but made use of the same emotional and imaginative engines. I sometimes call myself a method writer, actually, because I will mime out or read aloud what I’m writing to make sure it’s all natural. I also try to write visually, because that’s how I prefer to read: as if I’m watching the story like a movie in my mind.

    So yeah, great connection, and I definitely agree!

    • Thank you!

      “Method writer” … LOVE that. I am very much a visual reader and writer, as well – which sometimes slows me down while reading but seems to speed up my writing pace – and have definitely read my dialogue out loud before. I never really made the connection between that and the acting sphere, but now I can see so many parallels.

      (Oh my gosh, and I know, right? I swear, every GH cast member is so striking!)

  2. I remember when Luke and Laura got married. And Rick Springfield was a character (I think that was GH). I got hooked on it in the summer when I was a teen but haven’t watched it since.

    You are absolutely right – as writers we are acting on paper. Nice post.

    • Thank you — and thank you for stopping by! :)

      Yes, Rick Springfield was (and every now and then, still is) on GH. He plays Noah Drake. Luke is still a fixture on the show, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll bring Genie back to play Laura again sometime soon!

  3. I haven’t been on the blogsphere in a bit, so I had to play a little catch up on your past posts. First I’ll say, I’m glad you’re feeling better and happy belated birthday! That was SO cool that you got to hang out with them. And it’s nice to know they appreciate comments like that. I always thought I’d play it cool around a celeb and not act all “fan-ny” but they’re artists like us too. It makes sense that they (the serious actors) would like more developed feedback other than “you’re hot” and “I love you.” I kinda feel like we’re directors (of movies) when we write because we’re not only putting together scenes, scripts, characters, etc., but we have control over “everything” that’s put into a story. *sigh* Writers are awesome :)

    • Thank you!

      I absolutely agree. Sure, there are probably celebs who don’t pay much attention to comments from fans, but that just makes it extra special when others of them DO. I’ve almost always found that with the daytime community: the actors are genuinely appreciative and truly like to form sincere connections. I love, love, LOVE your analogy between writers and directors. It’s spot-on And yes, how lucky are we to have a chance to do that every day?! :-)

  4. Ack! How did I not see this post? I think it’s because my Google Reader was acting up a bit. Sorry for being an absentee friend.

    Anyway, YES, I have compared writing to acting so many times! Especially when I’m layering in backstory or all those little details – the actions the characters do in the background, their expressions, their little emotions. I always think about actors, and how they have to have their characters do little things, too. They’re not just standing there talking, but sipping from a coffee mug, or fidgeting, or pacing the room, or something. It’s creative.

    • Okay, I’m just gonna ignore that, because you are absolutely NOT an absentee friend. You are a great one!

      Exactly! I used to take those smaller actions for granted – it was simply part of watching the scene, you know? – but they’ve become something I notice quite frequently now. It’s amazing how such a tiny action can add so much to the storytelling. Makes me want to layer in even more in my books (which, um, considering my WC issues, probably isn’t the best idea. Ha!).

  5. LOL! Actually, I was too busy emailing you daily to comment on blogs. How’s that? :-D

    Never mind. I’ll blame it on technology. Technology always makes a good scapegoat.

    Hey, there’s always room for layering. You can do a set of revisions where you delete words, then one where you layer.

  6. Pingback: Time Machine. | Shari Speaks

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