Kernel Hunting Exercises: Beyond Casting

Remember yesterday’s exercise casting characters from one of your story/game projects into someone else’s work? You don’t have to stop there.

For the ambitious manager of casts, one fun extension to the casting exercise is bringing in the characters who were so cast and getting their opinions—on the characters at first impression, on the characters in general, as they actually watch the show/play the game/read the story/etc, or even on the costumes if they’re expected to actually wear them. If you’ve got multiples, you can get their opinions on that as well.

First off, this allows for more looking at kernels by examining what the characters consider their own (and each other’s) kernels to be. Odds are decent that the character is going to prioritize an aspect you didn’t, or be surprised by one you did, and that’s half the fun. How would they react if the character was a perfect fit but they wouldn’t be caught dead in the costume? What about if they wanted a role that someone else got? Is there someone who’s sick of being the rescue object all the time? If the casting contradicts the existing group dynamics (particularly if you’ve got people who can’t stand each other in a canonical couple), how do both those cast into the relationship and those outside of it react?

Second, it’s a chance to listen to voice, both singularly and in a group dynamic. There’s potential for individual complaints, people tossing a string of commentary back and forth, contrasting opinions—basically, it gives you not only the characters’ opinions, but a chance to watch the characters interact, pick on each other, form little social mini-alliances, even get a chance to see conversations and impressions between characters who wouldn’t actually meet each other otherwise.

And if you want to go really meta, or just play with the fourth wall and the roles a bit, there’s one further element that involving the characters themselves allows for: claiming one of them did the casting. You might do this at the end, when you realize that not everyone’s been slotted into a role; you might do it at the beginning, and do all the casting based on what that character would call for rather than your own opinion; maybe in the middle, when there’s one character you just can’t explain the casting of without it being a practical joke on the part of someone else who hasn’t gotten a role.

And last, exercises like this are just plain hilarious. Can’t you see one griping about the role he’s gotten, or another loudly agreeing with a line delivered by the character she was cast as? Maybe two of them colluding to rewrite the script? There’s a lot of chance to watch a side of the characters that might not show up in their actual stories.

Give it a try. You know you’re curious now.

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