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Writing Books/Character Development


I am a seventeen year old wanna-be writer. I wish to put together a novel for teenagers and adults alike. I wish to include things that adults and teenagers can relate to, along with a little magic and a little fantasy. It will not include heavy language or sex, but where I want the common ground between the two age groups to be placed is within the emotion of the character(s) and the character it/him/herself.

So, my question is, when I begin to create I charcter, I include noticable and minute traits that make a person who he or she is, but I don't know where to stop. I wish to develope a certain "consious personality", if you will. I want my character to think a certain way, and make that way very noticable, but not the main theme. I've done things such as give my characters homophobs and such but when it comes for my character to 'learn the lesson', if you will, I have a hard time writing the last few pages or chapters without thoes traits because they have become so much of that character. Instead of a small change, it seems as if my whole character has changed...and I just can't excape that. I feel as if I should go back to formula and direct my attention for a while to character development, do you have any suggestion on the subject in general. What's the trick?  


Depending on the nature of the trait you're talking about, losing it SHOULD be a case where the whole character changes.  Some traits are like that!  They ARE part of us, and changing a trait can be like a whole personality change.  And remember that changing a trait isn't an easy thing.  You shouldn't expect it to be a minor change.

I want to say, though, that you really sound like you're on the right track.  You clearly have good instincts for what's good to do.

Now, I would like to suggest that maybe "where to stop" isn't the problem you think it is, with regard to character creation.  I believe that when creating the major characters for your stories, you SHOULD create very thorough backgrounds for them.  Cover as many bases as you think you can.

But remember that all this information is for YOU.  It is not necessarily for the reader.  Knowing your characters inside and out will make those characters come alive on the page.  You may not reveal to your readers 20% of what YOU know about the characters.  But your readers will definitely feel that these characters are very well developed.  They will not get the impression that the characters just dropped onto the page from outer space.  They'll FEEL like they have histories, even if you hardly reference them.

So when building your characters (and this is something you do BEFORE writing your first page), go for it!  Go nuts with giving them backgrounds (all the while thinking of how past events shape them into what they are today) and histories (never forgetting the huge network of acquaintances that we all develop over our lives).  Do this and you'll end up with very realistic characters that will captivate your readers.

Hope this is helpful.

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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