Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Guest Blogger - Lynne Gentry

Mindy here. Today I'd like to introduce you to my good friend, Lynne Gentry. Her background in drama has taught Lynne a few tricks that makes her writing leap off the page and come to life. And as one of her crit partners, I can tell you she writes clean, and she writes powerful.

Recently Lynne spoke for our local ACFW chapter, teaching us how to incorporate some of those tricks of the stage into our writing. I immediately knew I had to invite her join us here on F.A.I.T.H. So without further ado, take it away Lynne.

Paper Dolls by Lynne Gentry

What is a well-drawn character and how do you draw one? While these questions are tackled at every writer’s conference, I think bagging the wind would be an easier task than nailing down the one thing that makes a character real in the reader’s mind.


Because characterization requires layers…lots of them. That elusive device or trick that makes a flat character three-dimensional doesn’t exist. It takes many tools to fashion a person the reader will care about. I’d like to share a simple tool I’ve added to my writing craft box, one I picked up from twenty years of helping novice actors excel on the stage.

Only 7% of what we communicate is communicated with words. The other 93% is communicated with 55% body language and 38% vocal intonation. Where do these alarming numbers leave wordsmiths like us? Up a creek…unless we learn to give our characters movement and sound. One quick and easy way to make progress toward accomplishing this feat is with costuming.

Far too often we dress our characters in jeans and a shirt and send them forth in our WIP without further consideration. But taking a moment to select costume pieces that either restrict or increase a character’s fluidity of movement can create mental body language specific for that character. Simply by adding body language, we’ve increased the believability of a character’s dialogue by 55%.

How does costuming work? I’m not sure. But I know that if I take a stay-at-home mom who’s comfortable in her sweats and costume her in a suit and heels, she suddenly moves differently across the stage. Can this happen on the page? Absolutely.

In her stunning debut novel, The Russian Concubine, Kate Furnivall gives an example of costuming’s influence upon a character’s fluidity of movement. When Alfred, an uppity Englishman, makes his stage entrance in the middle of a filthy Chinese market, he is dressed in a cream linen suit. Immediately, the reader sees a man desperate to keep himself pristine. Ever tried to keep a toddler’s sticky hands off of your white blouse? Then you have a mental visual of how Alfred would move to protect his clothes in this uncomfortable environment. And it is in our mental movements of Alfred that he suddenly becomes…more real.

Want to know more about creating characters that leap from the page? Visit my blog
http://lynnegentry.wordpress.com and follow along as we investigate ways to use costuming to create well-drawn characters and then use costume changes to create that illusive character arc. Or if you are the impatient type and would rather not have this information piecemealed out, order the CD from me and hear the whole spiel.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Lynne. But before we let you go, tell us a little bit about your writing.


Besides being a drama minister for years, I've written three books just dying to have a publishing home. My last book, co-written with Lisa Harris, is the story of two mothers fighting the same war worlds apart...the battle to save their child. Can't wait until it hits the shelves.

Having had the honor of reading some of that particular story, I can't wait either. Be sure to check out Lynne's blog for lots of great tips you can apply to your writing.

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Wishing all of you a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with love and laughter.


  1. Mindy & Lynne,

    Great post! I'm on my way to your blog now, Lynne!

  2. Awesome info, Lynne. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Edwina and Dianna, I hope you found some great information. Subscribing to Lynne's blog is definitely a treat.

  4. Yay Lynne! and Mindy
    Thanks for the helpful tips on writing. HAve a wonderful Thanksgiving

  5. Wonderful interview, Lynne and Mindy. Will love seeing more from both of you.

  6. This is a wonderful interview post. I'm so glad Lynn shared with us today and that Mindy was thoughtful enough to invite her friend along! I loved it.

  7. Wonderful information, Lynne. Thank you Mindy and Lynne!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, sweet friends!

  8. Excellent ideas, Lynne. I enjoyed meeting you a couple of years ago in Dallas!

  9. Wow, what a great post, Lynne! I'm sorry I'm late reading. We've been out of town.

    I'm heading to your blog now. Thanks so much for intrducing me to this great technique!!