Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why Character Chats are Awesome

If you've never done a character chat, then you're missing out.
What is a character chat? It is when you and any number of other authors choose a character (or two, or three) each, throw them all into an imaginary place/situation, and watch how they all interact with characters written by other people in worlds not their own.
So for instance, if I was character chatting with one other person and we agreed to use only one character each, we'd each choose one of our own characters and hold a conversation as our characters. I'd speak as say, Nitri, and the other author would speak as her character. It's like a role-playing game.
Usually these things are done online via messaging systems such as Google+ Hangouts or Facebook Messaging, but I've also participated in a character chat done over Google Docs. Some chats are just conversations taking place in featureless rooms, some are set up in a specific location with a setting that the characters can interact with, some are life-and-death situations that the authors just dump their characters into. The possibilities are really limitless.
I got the original image from here.
Personally I think character chatting in one of the best ways to help flesh out your characters. Why?

You have to think about what speech patterns set your character apart from the others in the chat. By just looking at the text, could you identify which character was your own by what he said?Also sometimes the character's speech patterns come out naturally in the chat, which is incredibly helpful. I was character chatting using Nitri the other night and realized that one of his favorite phrases was "I would have thought . . ." It was giving the other character in the chat (a very snarky charrie) way too many opportunities to make fun of Nitri's potential for intelligent thought.
Basically, this is how Nitri got a smack-down. He wasn't very happy.
You see how your character reacts to insults. Maybe it is just my characters but they often start off the chats by arguing with the others. If this happens, you get to see how your character uses insults, how much he can take before snapping, how he snaps, etc. This is also important because it forces us to think, "is this my character talking? Or is it me?" That distinction is very important and you're forced to think about it in a character chat.
Questions you wouldn't have thought of get asked. Other people often have questions to ask your characters or about your characters that you never would have thought of. Some of these come out in character chats and get you thinking about how your character would answer. It's like a character interview, except you're forced to think fast and produce an answer.
The diversity between the characters can be staggering. Different authors, different story lines, and different worlds all collide when you throw together a few character from totally different stories. This mix-up creates very interesting conversations and very interesting conflicts. Sometimes you have to better think through something in the world you've made up in order to have your character explain it to another who has never heard of it before. Also, you may end up with a court jester trying to hold a conversation with a over-protective dad. You never know what could happen, and watching your character squirm trying to figure out how to deal with the weirdness if not only informative, but incredibly entertaining.
Just watch the drama unfold from above and feel free to laugh.
You may end up with a new OTP. This has happened. Authors stick their characters together and liking happens, totally unplanned. Sometimes this can be problematic, as they don't have their new soul mate in their world. But it can also give you an idea of how your character reacts in romantic situations, giving you more information to write with.
Basically, anything you want to know about a character, you can learn via a character chat. 
Also, it is incredibly entertaining. Especially when insults start flying. If you've never done one, or need to know one of your characters better, find a friend or someone in a writer's group or any author at all and go set one up. It'll be fun!

Have you ever done a character chat? What do you like about them? How do you start them off? Personally I like to throw my character down from the sky like comets that don't burn. They often land quite awkwardly. *cue evil author laughter* But seriously, tell me about your character chatting experiences down in the comments.
Also, I apologize for any typos in this post. I was rather rushed while writing it.

35 comments:

  1. OURS WAS GLORIOUS. xD But yes, yes, yes to all of this. It's super fun and you get to learn, too. *nods*

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    1. THE MOST GLORIOUS. Seriously though, I don't think Nitri has ever had such good brain exercise. XD We'll have to do it again some time.

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  2. Yes. Just... Yes. I LOVE CHARACTER CHATTING.
    Seriously, if you ever need someone to do it with, I'm open most of the time and would love to meet some of your characters. It'd be fun to get a group of people together and do this, actually. So, I volunteer! :p

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    1. Sounds awesome. Are you part of the Go Teen Writers group? Your name looks familiar . . . But yes, we should do it some time!

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    2. I am! If you ever want to message me over there we can set one up. It'd be fun to get some other people to participate, too. *looks up at Aimee's comment* Aimee? xP

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    3. I'd be willing! It's so much fun.

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    4. Sounds like a plan. :D I'm pretty busy most of the time, except for afternoons and nights. Mornings are always a no-go. xD

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    5. It's a month later and I finally got back to this thread of comments. *sigh* Typical me. :p
      But afternoons and nights I'm almost ALWAYS open. I'd still very much like to do this. *nods*

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    6. Awesome. Aimee and I did one over Google Hangouts and it worked really well. If we can find each other on Google+ we could do it that way.

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    7. Ooh, that sounds good. I actually just went and sent a message to both of you on Facebook, but I'll go stalk you out on Google+. xP

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    8. I have added you to my circles as well. :)

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    9. Awesome! I'll let you message the Hangout when you have time for that chat--I'm basically on anytime.

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    10. Maybe tomorrow afternoon/evening would be a good time?

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    11. Sure! I'm around this evening.

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    12. Hey -- we're both around when you are. :)

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    13. Um...I'm aware this is rather late, but are you still open for a character chat? I live in the UTC + 8 hours zone, and I find that a lot of people don't. I'm rambling. Sorry.

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  3. How have I never come across one of these? I've done character interviews, I've talked ABOUT my characters... but never have I done anything like this. It sounds tempting... anyone want to try it with me?

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    1. I'm up for trying it with you if you've got a Google+ account! Which you probably do, since you're on blogger. XD Name a time and I'll see if I'm around.

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    2. Would sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening work for you? And yes I have a Google+ account! Just not blogger, exactly. I'm on wordpress. (I use blogger for The Fangirl Initiative, though)

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    3. I'll have to see. I may be busy somewhere in there. We can talk more about it on Hangouts, then. :)

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  4. Okay, so I have a question. It's not related to character chats, but would you start a story off with a few sentences, then fast-forward, say, 20 years?

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    1. It depends. Are those sentences absolutely necessary? Also, if you do that those sentences need to be FANTASTIC so that readers don't get lost as soon as that short opening stops.

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  5. I love character chatting. I've been doing it for six years now and my characters have just blossomed since! I think I may have introduced it to GTW since it started happening after I wrote a post mentioning it ... XD

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  6. I've been to one on wattpad but it doesn't allow that stuff anymore. I had a lot of fun and definitly helped me to know my characters better!
    But, how do you find more? xD

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    1. More character chats? XD Join a writer's group even if it's online. Or if you're buddies with another writing blogger ask if they'd be willing. If you want more characters . . . haha Pinterest always gives me way more ideas than I need.

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  7. The background on this blog page makes it really difficult to read the content. Anyway of changing that a bit?

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    1. I'm not sure what you're seeing on your platform or device, but it should be a plain white background with a graphic on the left. Is yours different?

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  8. That sounds like a lot of fun! I have to try that one day :)

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    1. If you get the right combination of characters together, it's a blast. :)

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  9. Yes, yes, yes!! I thought I was the only one who did this! My very best friend and I have done character chats for years, only we always referred to them visits to Author Land, or ALs for short.

    My friend and I are both writing books and act as each others support and editorial group. It's always great writing together and we almost constantly have an AL running. Since it's just the two of us we like text messaging the story throughout the day. Once you really get going, it's sometimes hard to stop. Some ALs have even stretched into book sized epics while we're playing around.

    When we first started years ago, we would drop our characters from the sky into a empty forest and play around. Some of them were pretty cheesy too as this was early on in our first books as authors.

    We started to branch out and try different settings. A lot of the mini plots in these were to find the magic "portal" back home. We visited our fictional worlds like tourists outside of the canon of the story. That made for some great world building as well as character development. Once we put our medieval fantasy characters in 21 century earth... That was fun! Que the pizza, carbonated drinks, 3D movies, amusement parks, guns, airplanes, the almighty internet... The scenario has endless potential.

    One day things took a very different direction much to our horror. Two of our characters fell in love. I had no idea that would happen! *panicked screams of authors who missed the class on what to do* We didn't have the heart to break them up. They were just so darn cute together too! So we began our quest to a find a way for them to exist together inside the canon of our stories.

    After a lot of horrible ideas, we finally found a way that didn't introduce magic in non-magical worlds. We both had a selection of fictional countries but not enough to fill an entire world so we decided to become worldmates. (Roommates on a global level to share the responsibilities of world maintenance.) Our lands were far enough apart as not to interfere with each other but close enough for curtain characters to run into each other while exploring. Solution found! We could keep/recreate the parts we like in our ALs but not the magic portals we used as an easy out. True love truly can move heaven and earth.

    Several great relationships and friendships have evolved from our original chats and many were lucky enough to stay in the version we crafted in the canon of our stories.

    As a word of warning, don't get as attached as we did to our ALs unless you want to commit to some serious rebuilding in your story. Honestly though, our stories would not be half so interesting and deep on every level if it wasn't for our ALs. We may have gone overboard but it paid off ten times over. I highly recommend every author try this at least once, you'll be amazed at what you can learn.

    As for our couple that started all our beneficial rewrites, they are happily married now, living in one of my countries, with five children. (We gave them triplets for all the time they made as authorial revenge. Mwuhahaha. Ahem.)

    If you're looking for interesting ideas for scenarios some of our favorites are putting ourselves as authors in the scene with the characters and se if they find out that we are the people torturing and controlling their and explore their reactions. Another fun idea is playing What If in the story. What is this person didn't die, what if she never went there, what if he never said this? What happens? The AL we are currently playing with is putting our little dears in a parallel modern universe and giving each character a super power based on their personally! Trust me, it's amazing!

    Okay. I'm done. Many apologies about the long, rambling post

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    1. Thanks for the "long rambling post!" XD It sounds like you and your friend have had a lot of time to experiment and come up with some great ideas - I may try a few of them myself. I have a writing group online who regularly runs character chats, and I know they all have their own separate character chat ("CC") canon in which characters are in love, married, have kids which didn't exist in anyone's stories . . . it goes on and on. As far as I know, none of them have integrated each other's characters into their own stories, but it's almost like the CCs have become a storyline unto themselves. It's very cool to see it develop.

      Thanks again for the comment!

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