I Is For Insight
There are all kinds of ways to gain insight into characters. Finding the answers to the big questions like a character’s greatest fear and their most treasured possession or their attitude towards money is helpful in creating multi-layered characters. Character interviews are very helpful. But sometimes you need to have a little bit of fun with them. Have them play a game. Like truth or dare.
They’d rented a cabin for the weekend. All six of them. Deep in the north woods by a small lake. The perfect spot. Secluded and quiet. Hiking trails through the bush, pickerel in the lake, and plenty of dead wood for an evening fire after plenty of the first two. Stars flooded the sky. Wood smoke wafted. Marshmallows flamed at the end of sticks.
Lily clapped her hands together. “Let’s play truth of dare.”
Chase leaned over and confiscated his wife’s wineglass. “You’re cut off.”
Lily grabbed for her glass. “Ooooh, is the big, bad police officer scared?”
Grace snorted. “Remember that time at camp when we stuck out down to the beach and dared Chase to go skinny dipping?
“That poor bear!” Kate doubled over in laughter.
“Poor bear, my ass. I almost died.”
Seth held out a hand and Mike reached into the cooler beside his chair. “This I gotta hear.”
“Nope.” Lily grinned, her red hair glinting in the firelight. “But you can ask him when it’s your turn to play.”
“I’ll go first.” Kate twisted to face Seth. “Truth or dare?”
Seth shrugged. “What the hell, truth.”
Kate arched one perfect brow. “If you were in a beauty pageant what would your talent be?”
Seth lifted Kate’s hand and kissed her knuckles. “You know all about my special talents, princess.”
“Ah, geez.” Chase shot a pleading look in Mike’s direction. “Make it stop.”
“He does have a tendency to over share. But he also hasn’t answered the question.”
“Yeah, answer the question, young one.”
“Serves you right. You’re both going to feel even more inferior now. “ Seth sat back looking pleased with himself. “I’d wow them with my yo yo tricks.”
Mike blinked. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“What?” protested Seth.
“Walk-the-dog is your talent?” Chase snorted in disbelief. “Good thing you’re pretty.”
Seth launched a marshmallow at Chase’s head. “And your special talent is?”
“No way. I chose dare.”
Mike pointed at the shoreline with its soft lapping waves. “I dare you to take a dip in the buff. You’d better be fast, the water’s pretty cold.”
“No way am I getting naked in front of mixed company.”
Lily took pity on him. “Leave your tighty whities on then, oh modest one.”
Grace snickered. “Maybe you need company?”
Mike frowned at her. “You’re keeping your clothes on.”
Grace patted his cheek. “I meant you.”
“It wasn’t my dare.”
“Men don’t feel the need to do everything in pairs.” Chase stood up and stretched. “I can dip my toe in all by myself.”
Chase walked down to the shore and stripped down to his bare skin to catcalls and whistles. He sucked in his breath, took a few steps, and danced in place curses cluttering the air.
Grace framed her mouth with her hands. “Watch out for bears.”
Chase saluted back with his middle finger before diving in. When he was back in his chair dressed and wrapped in a blanket, he tilted his beer in Mike’s direction. “Truth or dare.”
Mike pretended to consider. “Truth.”
Chase nodded. “Craziest place you’ve ever had sex?”
Grace leaned over and clapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t you dare answer that.”
Mike pushed her hand away and laughed. “The rules of the game state I must.”
Kate grinned. “Let me guess, that time on the train?”
Lily snapped her fingers. “Or the time at Niagra Falls!”
Mike scowled at Grace. “Do you tell them everything?”
“Not everything.” Grace winced at him. “I didn’t tell them about that time in Jamaica. In Negril-”
“I remember.” Mike crossed his arms. “Didn’t someone say something about dessert?”
Lily dropped into Chase’s lap. “I want to go to Jamaica.”
Chase waggled his browns at her. “Good idea. Sounds like an inspirational place.”
“Okay, okay. Enough.”
Kate shook her finger at Mike. “I don’t believe you’ve answered the question yet.”
Mike huffed out a breath. “I can’t believe I’m saying this – in the cab of Berl Erikson’s tractor.”
Seth tapped his beer against Mike’s. “Dude.”
Grace’s head fell back as she laughed. “Oh yeah. I forgot about that time.”
Chase groaned. “Please tell me it wasn’t a threesome?”
Mike ignored him and turned to Lily. “Truth. Or dare?”
Who knows, it may turn into a scene in a book. Do you play games with your characters? Or enjoy hearing reading about others’ writing process?