I have this tradition with a writing buddy that basically started with us needing some outside voices to ask questions in character interviews. At one stage, I'd ask her characters questions via skype and vice versa. On new years eve 2011, our characters actually started chiming in as we discussed plot etc.
And then... we had the amazing idea to "get the characters" drunk to see what happened.
Well... what happened was well over a million words of story and world exploration just for War of Six Crowns and her WiP. (Secret of this happening is having two portal fantasies. So both worlds could exist along with earth, and the character interactions mainly happen on earth.)
So yeah... it's... well... Epic. It's so bad that we've had to split the documents we kept into multiple parts, or Word just doesn't open.
Anyway... we've done some other awesome stuff other than exploring our stories. Like... we've created two completely new ones together. (One's still in progress. The other we finished last night.) Why? Well... because it's a great way to stretch out your imagination. It's like writing, but where at least half of the cast isn't actually in your head, so the interaction aspect is more real and... well... some unexpected stuff happens. Like... let's just say that through these explorations I'd gone far deeper down the rabbit hole than I ever thought I'd want to.
Which is a good thing, because digging deep is where the good stuff happens with my writing. And through these.... (dang I don't know what to call what we do) plays, I've come to realize that there aren't really limits to what I can write.
But yeah... all that creation takes time, so now that I have nothing to draw me away from writing, I have to get back to doing more writing and less exploring.
What's your favorite way to explore your stories? (Other than drafting, naturally.)