One of my characters stood calmly today while I walked in a circle around them. This is an experience that will one day be commonplace, but for me it was pretty damn unique. In our spare time (such bucketloads that there are with my significant other wrapping up the most epic-est short film ever shot in Australia, and my next novel outback horror The Town nearing completion) my partner and I have been working on a horror computer game called Home in Time For Dinner; originally for PC but now for the emergent marvel that is VR. Before any of you get uppity about VR being a gimmick I STOOD ON THE SURFACE OF FREAKIN' MARS last night courtesy of the Curiosity Rover so boo to you!
Our characters have an idle animation (when not doing stuff they still breathe, blink and shift their weight fractionally). It's difficult to describe how eerie it was being confronted by them. Especially the dog, I desperately wanted to bend down and pet Mr Truck, our brave little sausage dog.
When I write a character in a novel it's a bit like being a minor deity: I craft every aspect of this person's personality and history. All the reasons they are their own particular and unique snowflake of an assh*le. I know their future. I dictate their future.
Standing face to face with one was a lot more humbling. Not in the least because I expected to get slapped at any moment. And inhabiting the skin of your character, looking out through their eyes is joy I cannot recommend enough to other writers should you get the chance. Holding up their hands in front of your face, suddenly realising how small and vulnerable they are ... Of course, things don't always go perfectly:
But I do look forward to the day this is ordinary.