Kung Fu Scene Play

Song of the Day: Hip to My Heart by The Band Perry

So there you are, staring at a computer screen, and are having trouble. You’re just not feeling it. It could be with an opening or any scene in your manuscript. The words aren’t coming to life, the scene is flat, or you simply can’t move forward.

What you need is a swift kick in the pants. Okay, may not. Maybe you need to try something different. I picked up this effective exercise from a workshop I attended featuring Alicia Rasley.

Get into character. Become one with their surroundings.

No, you don’t have to hire a kung fu sensei or take acting lessons. But if you can nab Ryan Reynolds as an acting coach, I say go for it! Especially when learning love scenes.

All you really have to do to become the character and anchor yourself to a scene is jot down answers to a few questions.

First, the basics. Keep in mind this exercise is done from the point of view character. Where are you? What do you see immediately around you? What time of day or night is it?

Become aware of your senses. What sound do you hear at this very moment? What do you smell? What do you taste on your tongue? What is the temperature, by which, are you hot, cold, or clammy?

Go a little deeper. Are you standing? Sitting? What do you feel in your hands? What do you feel on your cheeks? Are you barefoot or wearing shoes, and what do you feel under your feet?

Go deeper still. Are you alone? If not, what is your immediate feeling towards the person(s) you are with? What is your mood? What do you feel in your heart? What are you afraid will/will not happen? What do you hope will/will not happen?

These answers will help place you squarely in the scene – any scene. With the emotional and physical elements of your character fresh in your mind, you should be able to bring the words to life.

You’ll make your scene vivid with your kung fu roundhouse kicks. Of course, having Ryan Reynolds whispering encouragement in your ear might help, too.

What do you think? Do you have an exercise you’d like to share that helps you make your scenes more tangible? Let me hear from you.

12 Responses to Kung Fu Scene Play

  1. Tess says:

    I’m never stumped on what to write, I can’t get the images and ideas down fast enough. But I do struggle with description in my writing and use quite a few of the things you’ve suggested.

    I had a girl in an online chapter work with me on this and she made me describe where I was in my home. What I was seeing. What I smelled, tasted, heard, felt. Then she had me do it mad, happy, sad, excited–no matter what emotion, I had to come up with different descriptions…this helped bring emotion and sensory details into my descriptions!


  2. jbrayweber says:

    Hi Tess~
    Describing the scene in different emotions is a fantastic way to make the story pop with vivid sensory details. I had heard of that technique before and feel it would be a wonderful tool.
    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Suzan H. says:

    Forget the writing! Go watch Ryan movies.

    Seriously though, I always thought the guy was way to hot and smart to play Wesley Snipes sidekick in Blade III. Glad to see he’s getting his dues.


  4. jbrayweber says:

    Suzan! Shame on you! Watching Ryan movies instead of writing defeats the whole purpose. Unless of course, it’s for research. 🙂


  5. As usual, great topic. Excellent advice!


  6. jbrayweber says:

    You are so good to me.
    Thanks, Rounder


  7. “Everybody was kung fu fighting;
    Those cats were fast as lightning . . . .”

    I love that pic! And thanks for the advice, Jenn. It should be mighty useful.


  8. jbrayweber says:

    That song has been stuck in my head all day. Just wish I knew more than those two lines. LOL!
    Thanks for popping in, Mary Anne!


  9. It’s contagious!! Now, I have that crazy song stuck in my head too. It ran through my brain the whole evening while we were hunting crabs on the beach. BTW-Destin is fun!!
    I love this exercise that Alicia taught us. It’s a great way to get past the “I can’t think of a thing to write.” block. I find that if you start writing details then the story will follow. Editing can clean up anything and it keeps you moving forward.


  10. jbrayweber says:

    It’s such a simple exercise. While doing my scene for the exercise, I realized my hero was hearing footfalls running away. To me, this was a very important detail that should not be missed. These little things certainly help make the impact so much stronger.
    Have fun hunting craps! (must – not – make – bad – joke) 🙂


  11. O.M.G. what a week.

    Anywho, finally catching up. Jenn this post is awesome. I tend to try to get into my characters head as well, though I admit that it’s much easier for me to get in there and get out when it’s quiet.

    If I can’t, you know – cause of the kiddos – I’ll writer down everything I can think of about the character, from memories, likes, dislikes, that will help me imagine how his/her life will make him/her react in the situation I’ve put them in.

    SO grabbing that pic. My kids thought it was great!


  12. jbrayweber says:

    I’m guessing you are grabbing the kung fu pic for your kids and not the Ryan pic. LOL!
    I know what you mean about having it quiet. It is much easier to get in character when the kids are not under foot. However, I find the closer I get to ‘the end’ the more difficult it is to get the characters out of my head (and vise versa).
    Thanks for commenting!


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