Writing Books/Dilemma


After writing countless number of short stories I have finally decided to write a fantasy novel in which I would expand on an idea that has been developing and crystallizing in my mind for some time now. But I am still indecisive as whether to write in a more common style which would in a way be more close to a trivial literature, or in a more experimental style for which I draw inspiration from writers such as Lautreamont, Joyce, Baricco, and others. The answer seems logical since the conventional way of writing is much more accepted by everyday readers who rarely want to be bothered by something that is not immediately accessible. And to be honest I have no problems writing in such a way, but I cannot deny the fact that for me the joy of writing truly comes when I find myself experimenting with the stylistic expressions of a given language. If viewed pragmatically I should probably make the reading as pleasurable as it can get for the reader, but then again with such an approach I unquestionably take out the enjoyment that I alone as a writer experience from this creative activity. So do you maybe as an already established writer have any advice on this matter?


Here's my advice, and it's 100% straight from my heart.

Forget what you think the reader wants.  And forget what YOU want.  The important thing is what the story needs.

I'll give you two examples of what I mean.

When I wrote WISH YOU WERE HERE (a fantasy novel), I used a casual writing style.  Not because that's what I thought people wanted, or what I happened to like, but because any other style of writing this story wouldn't have worked.  It just wouldn't have.  A more formal style (a la Tolkein) would have seemed out of place, and a more experimental style would similarly have been ill-fitting.

My next book, ONE NATION UNDER GOD (a dystopian future story), was done in an experimental, "modernized" epistolary form.  I probably could've made it work in a different style, but this form was (I felt) important to the actual story, because it sort of showed an emotional distance between the characters, which I'm trying to imply comes as a result of the way people communicate in this modern age.  Sure, the experimental form caused some problems, but they were challenges that forced me to really tap into my creativity.  The end result is one I was quite happy with.

So you need to pay attention to the story.  What KIND of fantasy story is it?  Is there anything that you can add to the story using any one style over another?  Will you lose anything from the story by using that style?  

If you're open to new styles (and it certainly sounds as though you are), and seriously consider the nature of your story itself, a style should present itself to you.  You may, of course, have to experiment.  Write the first chapter a few times, using different styles, if you have to.  But LISTEN to what the story has to say to you.  Don't try to impose something on it that doesn't fit, just to appease either you or what you THINK your audience wants.

Hope that's 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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