Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Theater informing fiction

Here’s an interesting post by Leanna Renee Hieber at SFWA’s blog: Theatrical Shortcuts for Dynamic Fiction

I’m often asked if my professional theatre and playwrighting background helps me as a fiction writer. It does in countless ways. Theatrical form, training, and structure are holistically integrated into how I see the world and operate as a storyteller. I adore diving deep into character, creating atmosphere, and ‘setting the stage’ for my novels.

Here’s the part that struck me:

Knowing what it is like to move, sit, prepare food, lift, climb stairs, walk, trot, run, seize, weep, laugh, recline, jump and collapse in a corset, bodice, bustle, petticoat, hat, layers, gloves, and other accessories–all of which I’ve personally experienced in various historical plays and presentations I’ve acted in–is vitally important to taking the reader physically as well as visually and emotionally through a character’s experience. 

That … is both obvious and kind of a revelation. I mean, sure, everyone writes scenes where the lady steps carefully out of a carriage while managing her layers of petticoats and skirts or whatever, but still, I’m not sure I thought of this in such a physical way until those lists of verbs and nouns caught my eye. It would be pretty neat to dress in all that for a couple of days and go through a Regency reenactment, wouldn’t it?

In fact, you know what would be so much fun? An extended murder mystery live action role playing game, in costume, in a Regency-ish setting. I would never willingly do anything requiring acting skills because I basically don’t have any, but even so, that would be snazzy. And you’d come out the other side knowing how it feels to wear all that amazing clothing, a possibly substantial plus for anyone writing in that kind of setting.

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