In my post The Teahouse at the End of the Story I mentioned crossovers. What is a crossover? In their most basic form, crossovers are when you use two or more characters from two or more different stories/series.
“Crossovers?! Those are sheer procrastination! Pointless things! How dare you suggest my characters meet other characters outside of their stories?! They might get ideas!”
“They might get ideas!” That is exactly why crossovers are important.
Let’s pretend that I have exactly one friend. I talk to that friend often, and we get along great. Her name is friend 1. Now let’s pretend I meet a new friend, named friend 2 (this sounds like a math equation; bear with me). Also, assume that friend 2 is not a clone of friend 1, or me. It is possible that I would have common interests with friend 2, that friend 1 and I don’t share, does it not?
Now let us say that friend 2 is from a different country than I am. We will have different interests and backgrounds. They will learn things about me that friend 1 hasn’t learned, because we would have different conversations; we’re all different people. If I ended up with friend 1 and friend 2 on an alien planet, we would all learn new things about each other, and probably ourselves as well. The same thing applies to characters.
If Sherlock Holmes met MacGyver, what would happen? Would they clash, or get along? Sometimes the result isn’t what you think.
What could go wrong if the A-Team were hired by McGee to find the Hulk? If Antigone Smith, a character created by N.D. Wilson, met Aubrey Hansen‘s Philadelphia, would they agree on problem-solving and families? If Lucy Pevensie met The Doctor, where would they meet? How would she react to a blue box falling out of the sky into her backyard, or in a forest covered with snow in a wardrobe? Would she be all that astonished that the TARDIS was bigger on the inside? How would he react if he found out who she was? What if it was Susan Pevensie who met The Doctor after The Last Battle instead?
A friend of mine, Katie Daniels, has a character named Floyd, from her series Supervillain of the Day. He gets along surprising well with my character Jayson Lewis. The characters are from two separate story worlds, they are both notoriously stubborn (I’m keeping Jayson away, so I think I can say that safely ;)), and I was pretty sure they would clash. So far they get along very well. Go figure. 🙄
In short, crossovers are a great developing tool. They can be written by yourself, or happen more informally when you and another writer let your characters
fight duel start a rebellion argue ride on dragons chat. You get to be a bug on the wall while characters interact. The results can be hilarious and/or enlightening.
“But! What if they get ideas that don’t pertain to the story!” You want your characters to get ideas if you want them to be like people. Yes, you have to limit their knowledge within the story, but they have a new life, a new depth and essence that rounds them out.
I have at least one crossover swirling in my head I want to write with my character Hawkes and a character named Alec Hardy from a show called Broadchurch (please note that this is not a general recommendation/endorsement of the show), set in The Teahouse at the End of the Story. Both of the characters like tea and need some sympathy to balance out the roughness that would happen with their personalities, but they have quite a few common experiences and honestly, I feel bad for both of them. Here’s a rough idea of how it might go:
Hawkes found himself equally matched in this scowling contest. “Line of work?”
The man across from him frowned into his cuppa with eyes and gaze as bitter as the dark bite of coffee. His words thickened into a dense shell. “Former Detective Inspector. You?”
That was odd. “Detective Inspector.” The room drifted by with chatter as the sunlight shafted its way up the warm-toned wallpaper. Hawkes set his mug down with a chink and mentally groused at his author and this blasted cheerful room. “Any kids?”
“One. Daughter.” Alec Hardy crossed his arms and stared coldly at the light blue flowers hanging against the wall with a sort of smirk. “What about you? You had to have some reason to move into Yank territory.” The words sounded odd against his Scottish burr, but most conversations were threaded with misspokes.
Wrong question, he could tell.
Now, if I were continue this, I would find out more about how these characters put up their defenses. I’m inside their heads, and running them through different scenarios, almost like practice. And if you still doubt my point, consider this: How else would I know that Jayson enjoys supervillain hunting far too much?
For Further Reading
The Teahouse at the End of the Story