The 10 Parallels Between Writing and Scare Acting

Goodness, where has the time gone? I’m pushing 27 and it seems I can’t grasp the concept of ticking hands on a clock…i.e. I apologise once again for being so poor with my blog.

I have an excuse however – although we are now in November, I have been doing some other work outside of the traditional writing and proofreading services. This may sound strange but deep within me there is a crying thespian desperate to get out, and said thespian got her wish this October at York Maze Hallowscream.

hallowscreamFor those who are unfamiliar with this wonderful tourist attraction, it’s an event put on by York Maze every year between the half term and Halloween period. It generally involves five themed houses on some farmland, all of which welcome unwitting guests into their inevitable doom. This year’s five themes included murderous Victorian butchers, creepy clowns, (a coincidence, despite their prevalence in the media of late) time travel and more.

Goodness knows what came over me but I decided to apply for a role in one of said houses…“for a laugh”. Then I went to an audition…for a laugh. Then I got the part…you get the idea. It was almost as if it was a joke that had gone too far but it was honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade the people I met there for the world.

I landed the role of scary, Victorian, blood-stained butcher. As I stood in the “Flesh Pot” waiting to scare teenagers, I thought to myself: “This isn’t too dissimilar from my other job.” It sounds odd, but here are a few reasons why:

You have to be dedicated

As I mentioned on Facebook earlier this month, November is National Novel Writing Month. This takes a huge amount of dedication and, just like writing, so too does scare acting. It is hard work and the hours can be long, but in the end it’s totally worth it.

You have to be able to tell a story

Scare acting invariably requires a lot of improvisation, but we did have a storyline to which we had to adhere. We were butchers in Victorian times working for Leonard Dunnington, who had a penchant for putting humans in his pies. Just as your writing will require you to tell a story, we had to as well by adapting our characters accordingly.

You have to be creative

scare actingFor what is good prose, without a little creativity? The same goes for scare acting – when people are walking through your maze 60 times an hour, you have to be a little creative with your dialogue. The same goes for the writing world, of course, though perhaps there is less mention of pies…

You have to be adaptable

What might work for one client might not work for another. Some clients may prefer jargon in their writing; others may like layman’s terms. The same goes for scare acting. I found that whilst some customers leapt out of their skin with an “impact” scare, others preferred creepier, almost stalking, methods. The key is, here, know your audience, and work to their needs.

You have to put up with comments

“Why are you doing that? Surely being a freelance writer is like being an actor isn’t it – you’re unemployed half the time!” Anybody heard these words before? You’ll hear them even more often if you tell people you have an acting contract. Suck it up, remember that you’re doing this because writing is your passion, and the positive energy will flow.

You have to be thick-skinned

Critics will find fault with your prose. Editors will slam the door in your face. Customers will call you a four-letter word without thinking twice. It’s all part and parcel of the world of writing, and indeed, scare acting, so this job certainly isn’t for those sensitive souls out there. If you’re easily offended, you may be better suited to another calling in life!

You have to have a sense of humour

writing and scare actingScare acting may not sound like something that requires a GSOH, but just like writing, the ability to make people laugh will inevitably improve your chances of success. I had a great time bantering with my colleagues and like to make people laugh with my written words too – learn not to take life too seriously.

You have to be good at performing solo

Unlike theatre work where you may have other actors with whom you can interact, scare acting does involve a lot of the spotlight on you, and nobody else. Of course, that’s not to say it’s not a team sport, but often you will be a one-man band, and the same goes for writing. It’s safe to say you have to like your own company if you’re going to be a scare actor or a writer.

You have to be accurate!

As an editor I wield my red pen as readily as I do my (fake) butcher’s knife! Writers have to live by incredibly strict standards of accuracy, particularly journalists, and this can translate into scare acting too. As I mentioned earlier, story-telling is a key component, but if you’re going to talk about customers’ iPhones whilst you’re improvising in a Victorian setting, that’s just as embarrassing as a misplaced apostrophe.

You have to be fearless

write scare actingBeing thrust into the depths of it all with dark corridors, strobe lighting and body parts hanging from the ceiling can be a terrifying experience for anyone, so it’s best to put these fears to bed before you step into a scare acting role. Then again, are we not plagued by fear when we submit a piece to a publisher, or send off work to a client? Both scare acting and writing require a degree of fearlessness, and if you’ve got that, you’re laughing.

Acting isn’t for everyone, and writing isn’t for everyone, but it’s amazing where we can find similarities in life. I learned a lot of lessons from nine nights playing a murderer and will try to employ these in my writing in future!

Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
1st November 2016