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Writing Books/growing the characters


Dear Mr. Wales,
I enjoy writing poetry and song lyrics. I am getting prepared to start my first book. Do you find it easier to write a summary of your story first and let it grow from there ? Do you prefer to spend some time on each character so that the reader gets to know them, or do you like to let them grow as the story goes on?

Thank you for your time,
Ty Oglesby


I don't care for summaries, myself.  They're too limiting.  Sometimes (though rarely) I will create a very bare-bones outline, but nothing with too much detail.  I prefer to let things develop organically.

And that's exactly what should happen with your characters.  You can't avoid having them "grow as the story goes on."  Or rather, if they DON'T grow in that fashion, something is seriously wrong.  

I DO, however, advocate spending time on the major characters so that YOU can get to know them.  For the major players in your story, you as the writer should know MUCH more about them than you ever reveal in your story.  You should have a very clear picture of what their lives were like, from childhood on.  Why?  Because then you'll really know the characters.  And as they say, "Write what you know."  Your characters will simply seem much richer to the readers, and that's a very desirable thing.

Hope that helps.

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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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