I’ve found a new trick! I discovered it recently while plotting out the second book of my trilogy, and I’ve been using it to understand my characters a little better. It’s probably nothing new, but it’s been working quite well for me.
Ever heard of a character-author discussion? Where in the form of a written dialog, the author talks to the character? Yes? Good. This is not that. But it’s close.
What I started doing is basically the same thing, but I have the characters talking to each other. It’s been very helpful! You see, I have used the character-author discussion before. But for me it works better in the first stages of developing a character. Using it to asking simple things, things like you might ask someone when you first meet: Where are you from, what do you enjoy doing, do you have any pets, what is your favorite memory, and so on.
But I was already quite familiar with my cast. What would be more helpful was being able to really get inside their head, and see what they really think and feel. So I started having character-character discussions somewhat “out of story” (as in it most likely it won’t be a scene that would be in the actually draft). I got to see how the characters react to each other, little gestures they have, what they say compared to what they think, and how they talk. I could have them talk on a subject that is linked with the plot, or just have a causal conversation.
One thing I’ve found very fun about this exercise, is how my characters have surprised me. They’ll reveal something about themselves or their past that I never knew or thought about before, and that will spark more ideas and information. It gets a spark up or a thought rolling! It’s exhilarating when that happens, and I can move forward. It’s very interesting!
Although it can be scary. For example I had my antagonist and protagonist talk. And I found my antagonist, whom I hadn’t really talked to before, scares the crap out of me! But than I started talking to him more, and while he’s still a scary “ends justifies the means” kind of guy, he’s gotten more philosophical and might go getting himself redeemed at the end. Which wasn’t my plan, so I’ll have to keep an eye on him and see where things go.
And you don’t have to just have main characters talk to each other. Use anyone and everyone, in different combination, it makes things interesting.
In conclusion, the character-character discussion is just a simple little exercise I found works for me, so I wanted to share and suggest it to anyone taking time to read this. Give it a try if you so desire, and have a great day! Adieu!