Last weekend, we talked a little about the difficulty of keeping things fresh when you've been working on the same thing for a while. I have the solution: Come in Character.
I know I've mentioned the site here before, but last night things went to a whole new level of interaction. I had no idea what it would take to make Faldur totally lose his famous cool, but I found out last night when one of author Betsy Dornbusch's characters developed a little crush on Marenya, and she decided to pursue it.
Well, actually, Marenya has had a crush on Aidan for a long time. It's kind of hard not to, considering he's a beautiful boy demon who has nice manners to boot. She kind of threw herself at him and... well.. you just have to read it.
As Betsy said, this type of thing is like improvisational theatre for writers. I had no idea what was going to happen, just that Marenya was so lonely and desperate for affirmation, she was going to latch onto Aidan no matter what. But she did it in a very gracious, Marenya-like way. She is extremely compassionate, and sensed that he needed her to reach out as badly as she wanted to do it. I didn't feel as if I was writing, but rather channeling these characters I know so well.
The key that makes CIC work is that you have to take your characters out of the carefully constructed environment of their own book. The interactions are spontaneous, and take place entirely via the comments. So it's a great way to build your dialogue skills. It also forces you to think about your character's worldview and setting. For example, mine don't live in the modern world so many things the other characters mention are totally foreign to them. I have to think carefully about what they would say or do in response, as well as how they would explain their own world. By this time, however (it's been what...2 years?) they've picked up some of the jargon and begun to use it themselves.
I do feel a little guilty for spending a couple of hours just playing around, but I know I'm going to dive into my revisions tonight with a new enthusiasm and a much better understanding of who my characters are. I realized that Marenya is not just lonely, but insatiably curious, and that Faldur would do almost anything to avoid a scene.
The other key that makes CIC work: Participation. We can always use more writers who are willing to think outside the box and bring their characters out to play.
So... come on over to Come in Character! You'll be glad you did.