Projects, Planning & Productivity

The weather’s been weird lately. One minute it’s boiling the next the wind is so strong I can barely open the car door without it slamming back in my face.

Windy days aren’t exactly fun when you decide you want to wear your hair out either. If I wanted a bowl out, I would’ve used a hair dryer! Sigh…of course the heat isn’t always friendly to hair either is it?

One thing that is nice about this bizarre weather is that it’s spontaneity inspires me to be more productive. The unfortunate thing is that with all I have on the go, I probably need to invest in a personal calendar. My phone just won’t cut it. I’d like to try and manage all of my projects effectively, whether that be recording which is currently my #1 priority (I’ve been recording an audio book this summer and it’s been so much fun!), or editing.

I also just started working part-time along with my job as a voice actor and the editing I do occasionally on the side. It’s nice to be working again, since the media industry is still adjusting to the changes happening during the pandemic. I’m eager to get back into the studio but I’m being as patient as possible and I’m making the most of the gigs I’ve been getting here and there during this pandemic. Plus my part-time job is loads of fun! I spend all day surrounded by books!

I do wonder if it’s possible for me to become more productive? Especially on my days off. Of course it’s important to take a break every now and then but when you have goals in mind, it’s good to stay on top of them. I try to set miniature goals for myself, of the things I’d like to accomplish in a week. I have a few set for this coming week. I’d like to get lots done in the next couple of days, but I also try to be realistic in what I can accomplish within a short span of time.

I have a habit of trying to do too many things at once which can at times be overwhelming, so I know that in order to counteract that, I have to make time for myself every so often so that I don’t burn out.

In terms of editing right now, I’m a lot further behind than I would have liked and what’s frustrating about that is the fact that I’ve got 3 chapters and 2 scenes to go. I’m at the end of the race with this 3rd round of edits but I chose to put it aside to complete other things. I think that by planning out my day and getting some sort of routine going for my editing, like I do for my at home recording sessions, I could probably get through these last few chapters more efficiently. Of course I still have to do a full read through before returning my corrections and my approvals back to my editor but I think once I get the last bit of editing done I can relieve some of the weight on my shoulders.

This is my debut. I just want everything to go smoothly.

Speaking of writing, I thought I’d do a little survey out of curiousity. If you’re a writer yourself, what is your writing style?

Back in the Studio

Yesterday was my first day back in the studio!

It was weird not having everyone around, but everything went smoothly and we had a great recording session.

I got to see the animatic for the show, which was absolutely fantastic. I hadn’t seen any concept art for my character prior to that, so when I saw her I instantly fell in love! She looked exactly as I imagined!

I really missed going in and recording versus being on my own at home. It was nice having a change of scenery.

Writing Update – 15k Words!

I have reached a little over 15,000 words. I’d like to hit 20,000 by the end of the day.

I should probably note that…I haven’t eaten all day. Bad plan. I’ll definitely take a break and eat dinner in an hour or so. I didn’t realize I was hungry until I got an email regarding work.

I’ve been trying to wait for the ten people in my neighbourhood to stop mowing their lawns, so that I can do some recording. The show I’m in (it’s a puppet show), was supposed to be performed for Mother’s Day but obviously didn’t happen, so lines are being recorded remotely and my director is going to try and put the performance online. I’m excited to see it.

I’m curious about the animation I completed back at the end of 2019. I’m really excited for its release but I have a feeling its been delayed because of Covid. I really miss the cast and crew from that. Everyone at that studio is super nice and sweet (plus there’s this restaurant next door with amazing smoothies).

I really, really miss recording.

Sorry for that random little tidbit, back to my writing update!

So I’m a little over 15,000 words now and I told myself that today I’d reach my halfway point. If my goal was 30,000 that would be great, but it’s not, so I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me. I’m writing something that’s a bit new for me…especially in terms of some of the subject matter, but I am proud to say that I’m connecting with my characters now! I was worried during my last writing session, but now I feel like I’ve found their voices. I may have to go back to early chapters and fix some things when I edit, but that is what editing is for. Right now, all I want to do is write to my hearts content.

Of course I have to record for this play, so I’ll need to warm up my voice for that and go do my takes. Hopefully I can do this soon. I don’t eat certain things before recording (like dairy or spicy food).

Hopefully I get to 20,000 words by the end of the day!

Book Talk Episode 6: Setting the Scene

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Whenever I begin planning out a scene in my novel, I like to think back to a course I took with one of my favourite professors back when I was in university.

In this course we focused on plays, and how different scenes were or could be set up for a performance. First we would read through the scene and get a basic overview of which characters were present. Then we would dig deeper, thinking about who actually spoke in the scene. Those who didn’t, we would try to figure out what they were or should be doing based on the dialogue (if no direction was given in the script), and what their reactions and thoughts were to the other characters around them.

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I often go back to what I learned in this course when I write, and yes I am aware that novelists and playwrights aren’t writing for the same purposes. That being that playwrights are creating something meant to be performed and novelists are creating something meant to be read, but nonetheless our duty is to bring these characters from the page and capture the audiences attention.

By planning out my scenes, keeping in mind all the players involved, it allowed me to focus in and set the correct mood. I keep in mind what each character is feeling in the scene, whether they are my main character’s or not. Their thoughts and emotions are important, because those will contribute to their reactions.

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For example, if person A and person B are having an argument–say they were lovers and person A kept a big secret from person B–you as the writer would know how these two characters are feeling. Now, what if this argument were in front of their friend, or their child, or even out in public among strangers? How does this change the scene, and the emotions and actions that not only the main characters are presenting, but the effect it has on the witnesses?

Perhaps person B is embarrassed and trying to keep their voice down, while person A is, in their fury, not even paying attention to what’s happening around them? Perhaps the witnesses are staring at them, or covering their ears, or trying to calm them down?

Nicksplat Calm Down GIF by Hey Arnold

Taking that course, and analyzing scenes this way, made me realize that there is more to setting a scene than the time, place and atmosphere. It emphasized the idea that each and every action has a reaction, and that those reactions are important to the storytelling regardless of who the reaction comes from.

I feel like keeping this in mind, can really enhance a scene for a writer. It also allows them to use different tools in their craft and play around with them. For instance, if I can, I like to show action within the dialogue.

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For example, instead of writing:

He hit him.

I could write:

“What the heck!? Did you…did you really just slap me?”

The reaction to being hit in the dialogue is (at least in my opinion), more impactful than simply writing, “He hit him.”

These are all things that you can consider while planning out your scenes. All in all, the main goal is to try and capture what you are visualizing, as well as possible, and put it onto the page.

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Exploring MoCap with Pascal Langdale

At the end of February, I had the privilege of taking a MoCap class through The MoCap Vaults, with Pascal Langdale.

I haven’t done any sort of theatre in the last few years, so it was definitely different than what I’m used to—standing in a booth behind a microphone.

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For a moment I became self aware of my own body and my movements. I started to question how I walked, how I stood, what gestures I commonly associated with what emotions. These were things I hadn’t ever thought about. I think about them while I’m writing characters, but usually, as a voice actress I think more about how my character feels, what they are thinking and what they sound like. It’s less outwardly, and more internal.

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Pascal had everyone in the class do mask work. When I put the mask on, to be honest, I couldn’t stop from giggling. I wore my hair out and released getting a mask over my head would be a little challenging. I’ll try to remember to do a ponytail or something for next time. While wearing the mask that self awareness grew, but I didn’t feel self-conscious or awkward. Instead I felt free…and less restricted. I didn’t care how silly I looked. I just cared about being authentic to my portrayal of movement. I wanted to be in that character, for that moment.

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After the masks came off for our other exercises, I felt comfortable. I got to play characters of all types, and it never occurred to me that I couldn’t because I was a 5”1, female with a young voice. During one of our earlier exercises, before putting on the masks, Pascal had us create hero poses. While assessing mine he said, “You are big, you are strong, and you are confident. You have mission and purpose,” and it resonated with me throughout the remainder of the class.I’ve always been so used to being little, that I’d never thought of myself as being big…or at least playing a big character.

Then Pascal had me play a dragon.

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I’ve never been a dragon before. I tried to think of how they moved, how they slithered about, how heavy they were and how to sound like I was actually breathing fire from my lungs.
My knees were pretty dusty afterwards, but there was something really fun about playing a giant, that walks around on all fours and has these massive wings.
My voice carried out, in a way that only my body and movements could help me create. It was such an amazing experience.
There is definitely nothing like trying to breath fire.
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MoCap is such a cool stream of acting because, like Voice Over you can become anything, but it’s the physicality of it, that makes it interesting. You have the freedom to really transform into something new. Characters that are human or aliens or dragons, male or female, young or old…and it’s the actor’s ability to create something believable in this playful space that is truly fascinating.
I had such a wonderful experience in this class, working through scenes with everyone and doing these exercises. It was truly amazing. I hope I get to explore this medium more in the near future.
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