Professional Acting – Incorporating Action Verbs into Your Acting

Throughout my time as an actor, casting director and screenwriter, I have personally witnessed a plethora of actors perform on stage and in front of the camera. While most of these individuals had raw talent, the ones that truly shined through the fog of “wannabe” actors were those who understand how to deliver a purposeful and sincere performance.

Although there are far too many acting tips and techniques floating around the world to list within article form, I personally believe one of the most important acting tips is knowing how to incorporate action verbs into your acting. Below I define the difference between a standard and action verb as well as how to use action verbs within your acting.

Common Verb

Now, this is not a grammar lesson, so don’t think I’m going to be talking about sentence structure or anything of the like. When you’re acting in a scene you must use verbs to help your character reach his objective. However, using common action verbs do not help you within this quest as they typically end within themselves; i.e., they do not require your character to push further.

Common verbs such as: reading, kissing, running, fighting are technically an “action” verb; however, they are what the acting community calls, “dramatically static.”

Purpose of Action Verbs

The purpose of action verbs within acting is to help motivate your character to perform a sequence of smaller actions in order to reach the intended goal. For example, the action verbs “to seduce,” “to protect,” “to harm,” and “to aggravate” all require your character to engage in other, smaller, actions in order to meet this goal.

Incorporating Acting Verbs

When performing scene analysis, write down your action verbs next to your dialogue or action notes. Use these action verbs as a guide to help navigate your character throughout the necessary steps to help reach his objective.

You may also use action verbs within your character’s subtext, which is the internal dialogue your character thinks. For example, the subtext of your character may be, “I must seduce him in order to get the answers my client requires.”

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