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Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#1 Copy

Questioner

How do you go about imagining and developing personalities? Did you draw inspiration from people in your life?

Will Wight

People ask me this often, if a particular character was inspired by someone, and the answer is no. I've never developed characters like that. I mean I take aspects of people and I usually use their expressions in a certain way. A lot of people have noted that Fury is like Goku-yeah, he definitely is. But its really more like how do I express this guy who loves fighting all the time and is kind of tied into the Akura family so I always think "okay, what character expresses themselves that way? You know what, he's got a real Goku vibe going on." so I just lean into that. That was something that kind of naturally came from who the character needed to be. So I develop personalities by giving characters traits that I think would fit them and suit who they are and then kind of baking them into their personalities and going "Okay, why do they have these traits? What kind of person would make these decisions?" and then I figure out a way to get them to express those traits. The only way in which people's real personalities influence that is that I observe people's real personalities and how they exhibit those traits.

I can actually give you a little bit of an example, it's not super specific because you don't know the people I'm talking about. I was working with a friend of mine recently who was working on his first book and I said that I would take examples of people's personalities and their dialogue traits and I would write dialogue like that in order to go "Pay attention to how real people talk and what that says about who they are and where they came from." He said "Well can you give me some examples?" So I went over our friends in our friend group and I said "This person has this turn of phrase, this person has this turn of phrase, I have this turn of phrase, I speak like this, and you speak like that." I really wish I could be specific about this but you don't know the people I'm talking about so it wouldn't make any sense to you. He heard that and went "Oh wow, you're absolutely right, what you're saying makes so much sense, I just had never thought about it like that, as being a unique dialogue trait to them." And I said "Yeah, because I think of people basically as fantasy novel characters." No, I'm just kidding. I said "no, when you write characters you should be thinking of them as real people and real people when they have certain traits exhibit them in their behavior, so you should be paying attention to how people do that."

Everyone is a character waiting to be killed off in my novel.

YA Buzz Book Club Q&A ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

How do you make original characters?  How do you design them?

Will Wight

That’s a really good question.  I like questions about character design a lot, because that is one of the things people don’t talk about very often.  They talk about character development, but they don’t talk about character design.  So the distinction here, as I’m going to talk to everybody is character development is how the character grows and changes over the course of the story;  it’s how the story affects the character, whereas character design is how you decide how to create the character in the first place, so there’s a lot of aspects to that and I could talk about all afternoon.  The bottom line is there is a trick I picked up from an author called Jim Butcher, who wrote Dresden Files; he did a ___ journal years ago where he talked about some of his writing tips, and one of his writing tips were tags and traits.  What these are, are things about the character that they come back to throughout the story in order to make the characters memorable and vivid on the readers mind, both visually and in terms of their personality. 

So, tags are words that are used in association with the character, and traits are aspects about the character.  The best example of this is Harry Potter; J.K. Rowling is really good at this.  So, with Hermione brown frizzy hair is one of her tags.  Every time you hear about someone with brown frizzy hair it’s Hermione.  And one of her traits is bookishness, this teacher’s pet sort of thing. So, her trait is, so they don’t say ‘teacher’s pet’ every time Hermione is introduced, but she is always the teacher’s pet.  She always the one with her hand in the air, and she is always the one answering the questions.  So that is one of her tags and one of her traits.

So, in terms of Ron, the Weasley family is the only ones in the book ever described with red hair and freckles.  So, everyone in the books who is on the Weasley family, red hair and freckles.  So, whenever you see somebody in the books with red hair and freckles, it’s the Weasley family.  Whereas you know they are not the only ones in the world with red hair and freckles, but they’re the ones, that’s how you remember and recognize the Weasley family.  And one of their traits is they are poor, but they are happy and they get by.  I don’t know what to call that trait, but their poverty, or their lack of resources, especially in contrast to Harry, is how they stand out. So, they are making the best with what they have, because their finances are stretched and they have a bunch of kids, where as Harry is alone and has a ton of money. So, they are using hand-me-down wands, and patching up their stuff so these are all traits, …, these are very memorable traits and tags to attach to your characters.

So, what you are trying to do when you are creating a character, is come up with tags and traits that make them stand out from the other characters in your story, and that whenever you reference them, the reader remembers, “Oh right, that’s that guy.”  So, every time they talk about Ron’s red… every time you see red hair moving through the forest, you go “Oh, right, I remember what Ron looks like.”  And you don’t just remember the red hair, you remember your whole mental picture of Ron.  So, every time you refer back to one of these unique traits or tags, you remember the whole character.  It’s a really great tip.  So, I recommend looking that up.  Tags and traits.

Bloodline Release Stream ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

Are you still thinking about writing some LITRPG? Also do you like crawfish?

Will Wight

I do like crawfish. We as kids, in a creek, when we were camping as a family. We would cook them on the grill and eat them in drawn butter and they were delicious. Big fan of crawfish.

As for the first half of your question, are you still thinking of writing a LITRPG, yeah, I'm thinking of writing a crawfish LITRPG. I think a crawfish that levels up. It goes around killing smaller fish gaining levels in Crawfish until eventually it rises to the shore and becomes a crawfish mage. Something like that.

Will Wight

As for the actual question, am I still considering writing a LITRPG. Sort of. What I mentioned before is that I'm not a big fan of LITRPG. I know there's a lot of LITRPG that appeals to fans. I'm not dissing on any LITRPG authors or even works. If people love LITRPG and love the books that's great. It's just not my preferred subgenre. I've read a lot of LITRPG and it just isn't something that appeals to me.

I've read Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, Overgeared (aka Legendary Moonlight Sculptor 2). I read a lot of the American LITRPG stuff and it just doesn't work for me and I don't know why. I've considered it a challenge. Theoretically it really works for me, but in practice it doesn't. A lot these authors are really good. They're really good writers. There's got to be something about the formula that doesn't work for me. So I have thought "it's gotta be the formula itself, so can I figure out a formula that I can enjoy, and would people like that?"

I've sorta worked on that a little bit, but I don't know if I will. There's so many people writing LITRPG and they're clearly hitting a large audience. It's already a crowded room and they're already into something I'm not into. So it feels like a party I'm not welcome to. Why don't I just do something else. If I figure out an idea I think I would work for me and that I think I would like, I'd try it.

Commenter

Everyone knows Will's love for math.

Will Wight

Any LITRPG I did would be minimal numbers. If I did anything it would be more based on a table top game than a computer game. More like a roleplaying game than a CRPG, for instance.

September 2018 - December 2018 ()
#4 Copy

OrgnlDave

I think that the plot synopses of your novels could use some work.

Will Wight

Re:synopses, I know, I just hate writing them. And the synopses for sequels don’t matter to almost anyone, so it’s hard to take them seriously. Only the first book really matters, and even then apparently not much.

Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook Q&A ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

Any advice on developing magic systems for a fledgling writer? The Cradle series is one of my favorites hands down b/c of how well the magic system is thought out. Looking forward to future works!

Will Wight

Hey! I like to start with a general concept (e.g. “magical martial arts”) and then include all the things I know I want the practitioners to be able to do. Throw fireballs, leap really high, whatever.   Then I try to make sure it’s restricted in enough ways. Does it take years of training to form a fireball? Can you throw as many fireballs as you want? Usually it takes some kind of resource to use magic, even if that resource is just your physical stamina.   After that, I start trying to push the magic system by thinking of crazy new ideas or coming up with weird implementations. Like, if you use a spell by writing it on a scroll, what happens if you use a material other than paper?   Thinking it through more thoroughly in that way helps me to flesh it out some more, make it more real, and identify areas where I might need another rule.

YA Buzz Book Club Q&A ()
#6 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever received inspiration from dreams you had, and then wrote a storybook about it?

Will Wight

Hmm.  That’s interesting.  So, I have very much received inspiration from dreams.  That absolutely, totally, happens.  So every once in a while I’ll dream something and I’ll have this vivid… not that I… of course I have this vivid memory of the dream, I generally don’t write down the whole dream, maybe just whatever part of the dream I thought was cool, if it’s an image or a character or a setting, or even a feel, and I write that down in the notes I mentioned earlier, but I don’t write down which ones came from dreams, I just kinda throw it into the pile with all the other ideas I have.  I do use those ideas later in stories.  I can’t think of anything I did that was explicitly from a dream.  I can think of ideas I wrote down that are from dreams, but I can’t think if any of them made it into books.  I’m sure they did.  I’m sure at some point I did, because I’ll dream about something, I’ll put it in the notebook, and then I start a new book and the notebook comes out.  I wish I had a specific example for you, but I don’t.

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#7 Copy

Marco and Grayson

Is it possible that you can just write about Lindon forever?

Will Wight

You know, I'd love to, I really like writing about Lindon, but the thing is, I just really love writing new stories. I just really like it. Any time I'm writing a story and I'm thinking about "Hmm. But what else could I be writing?" So I might come back to Lindon in the future, I certainly could see myself continuing to write stories from Lindon's perspective, but I think it's important that Cradle has an ending to the story and I really want to be able to tell other stories.

September 2018 - December 2018 ()
#8 Copy

Lil' Blue

You should definitely address romance in your books. ;)

Will Wight

Shshshshshshshshsssssssshhhhh. Hush now.

Lil' Blue

I need an awkward Will protagonist date in my life.

Will Wight

Jk, I know you’re right, and it’s going in. I have to practice to learn how to use it effectively, and the only way I practice is through LIVE-FIRE EXERCISE.   Everything that happens to Lindon and/or Simon results in awkwardness.

Lil' Blue

"Lindon: So uh...you like swords, right Yerin?"   "Simon: I like my eyes and having both of them."

Will Wight

^ Thats now my favorite. I’m going to try and work that in.

Bloodline Release Stream ()
#9 Copy

Bridget

During which draft do you decide where and when to put each "Information requested"?

Will Wight

That depends. That's... all sorts of different ways.

Someone also asked - and this is a question I get a lot that is also a very good question - that is: "how do you come up with names?" My standard answer to that is: every way, all the ways, any way you could think of coming up with names. I spend a lot of time coming up with names. It is something I kind of brute-force. So one of the things I like to do is with each culture or faction, I sort of come up with a name... thing... conventions for naming. And that helps me. So when I'm naming an Akura character I know that they are going to be Akura Wrath, or Akura Really-Good-At-Reading-Books, and I know those things so... yeah, I come up with names in a lot of different ways.

So where do I put "Information requested"? Similar answer. I do it a lot of different ways. So sometimes when I'm making up... when I'm going "Information requested" I know there's a few "Information requested" that I know are going to be in certain places. Other times, I'm like: "oh, ok... I need to... it's been a while since we've heard from this", or I need to explore that concept further, so then I'll add one in. It depends. So I treat them very differently.

 

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

Tell the burgeoning writers why alpha, beta, and editor passes are necessary.

Will Wight

I feel like this gets covered elsewhere, but it is a good thing for me to mention because I'm talking about my process a lot. I've mentioned alpha drafts, I've mentioned beta drafts, so on and so forth. The idea behind telling a story is that you are trying to take what's in your head and you are trying to give it to somebody else to evoke an emotional response. That's the entire idea behind storytelling and writing a novel in general. In order to do that, you need feedback from other people. You need people to read your story, you need people to give their honest reactions, you need people to tell you how they responded, and you need to take that and evaluate it in order to understand-okay, because you can never be 100 percent on your own. You have your own strengths and weaknesses, you have your own point of view.

If you write something, people talk a lot about how their artistic vision can't be compromised, and it's just "gotta be the way I envisioned it originally." The way I envisioned it originally is not sacrosanct, it's not holy. It's the kind of thing that you need to change and you need to alter in order to have an effect on your reader because ultimately it's about the reader. It's not about you, it's not about your experience, it's about the reader's experience. In order to accurately understand the reader's experience you have to be talking to readers that you can trust and who can give you their feedback. And of course you're gonna make mistakes. You're gonna make mistakes, you're gonna need people to catch them, you're gonna need people to see things you can't, you're gonna need people to have perspectives you don't have. It's just important for every reason but I think that's probably the concept and the principle behind it all.

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

If you could collab with another author, living or dead, who would it be?

Will Wight

I'll answer that question in a second, but first, I would say the idea of collaboration seems really fun to me. I feel like I would enjoy it. However, on the other side, there's the reality that it's just easier to just keep writing books by myself and it's probably easier for whoever I would collaborate with too. So it's hard to justify "Let's take longer to write one book instead of us each writing two books, like we each write one faster." It's just hard to justify.

But if I could magically collaborate with anybody, who would I collaborate with? My obvious instinct I would say is Robert Jordan because he was just a huge influence on me growing up and I would love to learn from him. However, I don't think our styles would be particularly compatible so this would mostly be him going "Will, do this." and I'd be like "Yes sir." and then we'd just be kinda writing a Robert Jordan book and I'd be sort of happily writing on a toy typewriter in the background while he's doing the real work. A more fun collaboration, let's see... Jane Austen. 100 percent. We get the same thing where I get to learn from a master and I get to improve my skills and also now we get to have a Jane Austen novel with her trademark character relationships and well defined people in a Victorian-I guess Elizabethan, whatever-English setting. And at the same time we also get magic and sword fights. That's it. It's kinda like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

Sam just suggested D.B. Weiss and David Benioff and then my dad stage whispered "Who's that?" That's about right. I'm gonna move on. There's nothing I can say.

Liam

Outsource the slice of life to Jane Austen.

Will Wight

I'll be honest with you Liam, I would actually just outsource it all to Jane Austen. Again, it's another scenario that ends with me typing with a toy typewriter in the background while they do the real work.

Pride and Prejudice and Dreadgods. That's it, I'll read that, I'll be honest.

Uncrowned Release Stream ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

How much of my writing do I [Will] keep?

Will Wight

I usually keep most of it, now, but I used to write basically two words for every word I kept. Less that I was going through and cutting things and more that I would write something and I would just toy with it. Over the course of developing a scene, I would end up writing twice as much. It would take me a thousand words to write a five hundred word scene.

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#13 Copy

Steve Farmer

I'm very curious about your writing process. How different was the first draft of Unsouled from it's final form?

Will Wight

Funny story about that, Steve. You picked an interesting example because I was intending Unsouled to be released on my blog for free as a series of chapters because I was going "Hey? You know what, I'll just try and do a web serial as my side thing in order to keep people reading the blog and keep people remembering that I am a person that exists while I write the next set of Elder Empire books." But then I rolled out all the short stories over the mailing list, which we used to do, and that got people engaged and I was like "Oh, okay, well I don't need to do that with this but now I have a book, so let's finish it out and put it up and then we'll know what we know how to do and release it on the Kindle store and then maybe that will keep people engaged." And then that got way more engagement than Elder Empire ever did, so I was like "Uh-oh." And then I wrote Soulsmith.

So Unsouled's first draft and it's final form were not very different. Most of my first drafts are really pretty clean in general. Not universally, but in general I write pretty clean first drafts. The final drafts I don't change a whole lot, but what I do change has a lot of impact. It's not like I go through and make a million major changes so the story's completely different. What I do is, it turns out there's a lot of things you can change with just a word or a sentence here and there. Generally if you read my alpha draft and you read my published draft you would be able to see easily where I went from one to the other but they will read very differently. 

Bloodline Release Stream ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

When do you think you will finish Cradle?

Will Wight

I don't know. There's three books left, so probably... it's going to be 2022 or 2023. I'm not sure when. It depends on what my release schedule is. So yeah, I would expect me to write one more book this year, and then probably get started on the next one, and then the third book finished sometime next year. So it depends on when that gets finished. So 2022 or 2023, I would say.

Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook Q&A ()
#15 Copy

Questioner

First, just want to say your books are amazing. I started with House of Blades, another favorite of mine. I wanted to ask; if you had to give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be based on your experience as a professional writer?

Will Wight

Finish the book. Here’s some advice I gave someone on Reddit not long ago when they said that the advice to “keep writing” wasn’t working for them: That is very common, and I think most of us have been there. I think I’ve identified the cause, though: “just write” isn’t a strategy, it’s a mantra. “I realized it was bad and stopped writing,” wrong, keep writing. “I had no idea where to go next,” then you’re going to be very surprised at what comes out of your fingers when you keep writing. “You don’t understand; I sat down to just write and the result was an exact clone of Harry Potter as crapped out by Satan. I’m going to get both sued for copyright and exorcised by the Pope.” There is no good writing, only good rewriting.
YA Buzz Book Club Q&A ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

I do a bit of writing too, but whenever I get to a part of the plot where I get stuck, I start thinking ”Oh, my characters actions don’t make sense, they don’t correspond with where the story is going.”  How do I get my characters and plot to make sense?  I don’t know how to describe it.  Does that make sense?

Will Wight

Oh yeah, that totally makes sense to me.  That’s one of the main things you have to work on in editing, is make sure your characters actions are consistent.  So, this a bit off topic, and I’m going to come back and answer this question directly, but readers expect consistency with the real world, except where noted, people expect consistency with the genre, and people expect consistency with the world.  So, what that means, is unless you have magic or aliens or something, people expect the world to act like the world does.  So, they don’t expect people to be like, “Yeah, and then I just walked on the walls for a while and then walked away.”  And people will be like, people don’t walk on walls.  So, they expect that.  Unless you note it.  If you give this person the power to walk on walls, and then they walk on walls, no problem.  Then people expect consistency within the genre.  So, people expect a sci fi book to have aliens and not magic, and they expect a fantasy book to have magic and not aliens.  And then, people expect consistency within the work, which means when you establish something within the book or the movie or the story, then that shouldn’t be violated later. 

So, a lot of times, what you’re talking about is called character consistency, and so, when a character does something or acts something that is contrary to their previously established desires, motivation or skill set, that is probably what you are talking about., I would think.  And the great part about this is, the solution to this is the same as the solution to almost any other part of the story, which is finish the manuscript.  So the funny thing is, that sounds flippant, but I’m actually very serious.  That is the solution.  The solution is you don’t fix it in the moment.  You go, “Crap, I’ve got a problem,” and let’s say your at the end of chapter 10, and you realize at the end of chapter 10, your illiterate sea captain is reading a book.  So you write that down, and you leave a note for yourself at the end of the chapter, and you go “Crap, this guy can’t read.”  And you make a little note, and you say from here on out, I’m going to say he wasn’t reading.  I’m going to forget about that; I’m going to say the book is gone.  So now you start chapter 11 and he doesn’t have a book anymore.  But later, you have a little note there.  Later, when you’re done with the book, go back with your editing, and then you’ve only got one scene to fix and not an entire book.

So what you do, if you notice your characters are acting inconsistently, you notice your characters have done something that, “Oh crap, that ruins the plot,” you then go “OK, what should they have done here?” and you make a quick little note, and from here on out, you proceed as if they have done that.  So, he shouldn’t have killed this girl here.  So now I’m going to proceed as if she’s alive, even though I have already written the scene in which he murders this person.  So then for the rest of the book, you are proceeding as if this girl is alive.  Later, you have to go back and change it so that he doesn’t kill the girl.  Or, a couple of chapters later, you go “Nope, he should have killed her,” so then you do it again.  You make another note.  And you go yup, he killed her after all.

(responding to a comment in chat) Yes, it is violent.  I’m sorry.  This is a murder mystery and she was alive the whole time.

But yeah, that is the idea.  Leave a note for yourself, and fix it when you are done.

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#17 Copy

AJ

How often in real life do you see something that you can hear how one of your characters would react to it?

Will Wight

This is why Dross and Eithan are the easiest characters to write. I could come up with Dross or Eithan reactions to almost literally anything, and then Lindon too I just know the character well enough to be able to do that. Yerin I could do, I would have to work on the phrasing, I couldn't just pin that off. When I know the characters well I can think of that. I don't hear it unless something triggers it specifically. If we're talking about something that the character, you know, it's a meme. So like there's a bunch of rocks sitting around and I'd be like "Mmm, Orthos would love munching on those." kind of thing. Unless there's a trigger for it, I don't sit there and have Eithan whispering in my ear. That's a bad example cause he does whisper in my ear, all the time.

September 2018 - December 2018 ()
#18 Copy

Lil' Blue

Lindon and Yerin go to an "educational dream tablet viewing" a.k.a a date.

Tievel

If we ever get a scene or story about those two going on a date, I definitely want it to be Yerin who plans the outing. Because I imagine that would be hilarious.

OrgnlDave

How would Lindon be any less hilarious? he knows nothing about the world or women?

Will Wight

I know I’ve said this a lot, but it bears repeating: the main reason there hasn’t been overt romantic development in Cradle thus far is because it’s hard to find space. Not my unwillingness to write it. There just aren’t many purely character/relational scenes in the whole series. So I need to either make room for those, thus potentially altering the fundamental formula of the series thus far, or find a way to work the same level of relational development into plot scenes. I’m trying the second one, but it’s hard.

Dreadgod Release Stream ()
#19 Copy

Questioner

When reading, what makes you say "This is good writing?"

Will Wight

When I am reading someone else's book, or watching a movie, or watching a TV show, or playing a game, I go "That was good." when the character does something that is organic to them that is contrary to what you would expect from the cliché. Or something that plays on the viewer/reader expectation in a good way, in a positive way. Not something that necessarily surprises or twists you but something where you go "That makes sense for them, I like that." It's when the characters respond organically, so let me see if I can come up with an example from Stranger Things. I still haven't watched the last two episodes so these won't be spoilers. I thought when we got the backstory from the bad guy of the latest season of Stranger Things I thought that was really clever and well done, because I had seen one thread and I had seen the other thread coming, and I had not seen how they overlapped. When I did that I was like "That was really good writing, that was good story construction, they constructed that in a way for a particular effect in such a way that even if you saw both threads coming, you still wouldn't have ruined the effect of the two crossing. Someone said, "Oh no, you've started a Will rant." That's not wrong. But yeah, I see these things and I go "That's good, I like that moment, that landed really well." Whenever they land a moment, whenever they've got this line, there's sometimes where I think the delivery is even better than the line and I'm going "Man, this line was really elevated by this delivery or this actor or whatever." That's I guess the idea, when I go "That makes total sense for the character, it's organic, and I didn't see it coming."

September 2018 - December 2018 ()
#20 Copy

Tower

My 2 cents is to just leave rape out of books altogether. It's a problem worldwide. We don't need to read about it in a source of ENTERTAINMENT.

Will Wight

Eh. It depends on the tone and intent of the work of entertainment in question. Sometimes it’s perfectly appropriate to deal with a heavy subject in a drama designed for entertainment. That said, it’s too heavy for my stuff. I’m not going to give sexual abuse the gravity it deserves, so I’m leaving it out.

Lil' Blue

And that's a perfectly acceptable reason, Will. Better to not address it than address it poorly.

Will Wight

That’s basically my position. And not every work of fiction can or should deal with every subject, so...