Horray for me I’ve just discovered the power of the test drive!
Now I know test drives are normally associated with the purchase of a new car or the procuring of an escorts services for a bucks party surprise, but I assure you that I have been test driving neither motor vehicles nor human females in a sexual sense.
Makes for a terrible image in ones head though, test driving a car in a sexual sense?
Imagine being the poor bastard that’s trying to sell an irresistibly sexually attractive car and has to sit in on every test drive in unfathomable discomfort watching perverts paw all over the steering wheel, offering drool buckets, mastering the art of locking the range of ones vision to top half only lest you cast eyes on vehicular tumescence.
And I thought regular retail was bad.
I’m more talking test driving from a writing sense.
Specifically, grabbing your poor soon-to-be-abused-for-the-rest-of-their-existence characters and hurling them by the dangly bits into a pit of whatever constipation inducing situation you can imagine then letting them work their own shit out.
Recently I fleshed out a new character or two for a story and thought of them to be pretty complete, then after printing off their character bio (for safe keeping should Skynet achieve its main goal and I can’t access my one drive/computer/basic human rights anymore) and giving it a quick once over, I found the whole person held as many dimensions as the bit of paper they were printed on.
Yes, I understand that paper has three dimensions, but unless you’ve got some fancy ass printer that pumps out stuff on paper thick enough to beat a yak to death with, printed stuff looks KIND of two dimensional.
Or I could just argue that there is depth to the character, it’s just on such a miniscule scale that it’s only recognisable if you take it and try to fold it more than 7 times.
At that point, I had a quick look around the interwebs and found out about test driving characters.
The real depth to a character is in their behaviours and voice. Sure it’s cool to have a spiral pattern scar that starts on their umbilicus and wraps all the way around to their left eye that they got from a mano-a-roboto bout of fisticuffs with a rampaging fairy floss machine when the robot virus broke out at a carnival giving sentience to anything electronic, or maybe have their greatest fear be drowning in the home made vat of bootleg dishwashing detergent kept in the basement because big-cleanliness has jacked up the price on home maintenance products to the point that people with OCD are going bankrupt making their houses sparkle, but if you don’t have a good grip on how that person actually talks, or acts/reacts to things around them, you’re going to be dealing with more wood than a sex-car test driver.
Whether you’ve written a full bio or just a log line for your character, or maybe you’re a shoot from the hip type who just writes as they go, you can benefit from taking your character out of their comfort zone (which is the entirety of your story universe) and putting them into a weird as fuck situation and watch how they handle it.
Be stupid as shit too, don’t be shy now. If you’re stuck try one of these ones really quickly.
- Waking up to find a leg amputated and replaced with clear resin prosthetic housing a rubber chicken.
- Standing in the cafeteria of a space cruise surrounded by views of the whole galaxy and a buffet of the weirdest fucking food you can think of.
- BEES! THEY’RE COVERED IN BEES!
- Taking a sexy as shit car for a test drive.
- Taking a pervert for a test drive in a sexy as shit car.
- Trying to retrieve a piece of toast that’s broken off half way in a toaster in an unfamiliar kitchen.
- Have them meet a character from your favourite book/show/movie or drop them into said characters world.
And while you do this, have another word page or notepad open at all times because you’ll quickly discover new and amazing things about your character that you didn’t know before and want to write them down before those pesky ideas/brain knives escape.
But if you’ve been keeping up to date with the blog you’ll already be doing that right?
Have fun with them (i.e. torture them), make them question the reality, shit make them break the fourth wall and get pissed at you for putting them there if you really like. I did and I found out that one of my characters has an irrational fear of tigers. Which I understand is actually very rational, but not when you live in a world where animal have been extinct for thousands of years.
There’s likely heaps and heaps of different ways to add dimensions and depth to your little story minions, but seeing as I’ve recently given this jobby a crack, I thought that I would share it with all you lovely folk because a positive experience based endorsement usually convinces me to try something and unfortunately some of you out there may be like me.
Either way, don’t bother with the folding idea, it was stupid to even suggest it. Honestly, what the fuck would that achieve? It’s not as if unfolding the paper would reveal a second page with more detail. I’m not a lounge bar magician.
Or would it…
Hang on let me check, I might have magic powers and not even know it!
Nope. It doesn’t work that way.
You can’t have magical powers and not even know it, I was thinking of something else.
Chlamydia! That’s the one. You can have chlamydia and not even know it.
Ok enough reading, go fuck with your character and let me know how it goes.
I was serious about not knowing with chlamydia, you can have that and not know. If you’ve been a little more than… liberal, with the dispensing of your love lately, it couldn’t hurt to get checked.
Dudes especially, there’s practically no symptoms.