For tonight’s exercise, I’d planned on doing a round of conclusions. At least, until I got stuck thinking a bit too hard about what sorts of statements to offer my boyfriend/current exercise partner. What got us un-stuck—and what probably works better for this exercise, since technically coming up with the prompt is the part that doesn’t take all that much direct skill—was him coming up with situations from which I was to draw conclusions about my own characters, as follows:
Him: “Olathe shows up at work without her jacket.”
Me: “What the heck did she just come back from a fight with?”
(The only time I’ve ever portrayed Olathe without her jacket, she was in the middle of a sparring match, and she’s aware enough of it as part of her image that if she doesn’t have it, and she isn’t in an outfit that precludes wearing it, it was removed and something probably prevented her from recovering it.)
Him: Olathe shows up at work in a dress, with makeup.
Me: Must be meeting with a VIP from her department today. A rather appearances-oriented VIP. Probably one who isn’t too fond of her other main job.
(Olathe doesn’t do dresses unless talked into it, or unless there’s a very good political reason. This annoys her primary set of coworkers—though not the ones who are working with her on her crusade against various very large, very powerful undead things.)
Him: Lizard-Jalil was heard to be laughing.
Me: One of the more long-running characters has foot wedged firmly in mouth. Or Shizuyo missed when trying to roll him down the stairs and took a tumble instead.
(Lizard-Jalil, who has already had to deal with not being the collective group’s equal in combat even before he ended up as the guiding intelligence of a small lizard-automaton paperweight, does rather enjoy demonstrations that said people who bested him physically will never match him in the social graces. In the alternate situation—his form was designed with Shizuyo the ferret in mind, so that she could act on her very justified grudge against him by rolling him into a ball and bouncing him down the stairs. ….Jalil seems to have a strong sense of schadenfreude.)
Him: Ruby doesn’t squeal over a cute thing.
Me: She’s at a high-formality event. Lirit is watching. She is NOT going to mess this up. That or she knows it’s easily frightened and doesn’t want to scare it.
(Yes, Ruby is very fond of cute things, and I’m willing to bet this one was angling for this particular cute thing to have been some sort of irredeemable evil, or for the situation to be so dire that Ruby breaks character entirely from the stress. But that was a bit too obvious, don’t you think? So instead I angled for a less apocalyptic scenario: Ruby does have mental discipline, when the situation demands it, so I found a situation that would demand it. Ruby does not like embarrassing herself in front of her mentor—and, in the alternate scenario, she knows perfectly well that scaring the cute thing will make it harder for her to hug in a satisfactory manner. Being clawed at by a panicking, hyperventilating small creature as she attempts to hug it is not satisfactory.)
Him: Kes is not emphasizing the fact that she’s a demon hunter.
Me: Kes feels that her knowledge is suitable to the current situation—or at least, not so lacking that she wants someone else to give the orders.
(In her work-partnership, Kes had gotten accustomed early on to a division of labor that involved Kiara figuring out the magic technobabble of the situation and formulating a plan, and Kes taking point on any operations and planning that involved the proper way of dealing with whatever foes might be getting between them and the objective. During the time in which they were separated, “I’m a demon hunter, not a [fill in the blank]” became Kes’s go-to phrase when pushed into questions of magical or psychological analysis, interpretation of bizarre natural phenomena that did not indicate demons or the Dead on the move, and almost anything having to do with active negotiations.)