Writer’s Digest – Ask Our Authors

Welcome to another Writer’s Digest! Once a month, we ask our tribe at WWF questions about craft and bring their answers to you. Keep our words with a grain of salt. What works for one author may not work for the next. We hope you’re able to learn from our past experiences and mistakes. Be encouraged to take our advice and make your own! Recently we discussed plotting character arcs. Here’s what our authors had to say:

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“It’s kind of a mixture for me. I plot out the action for the series loosely and see to some extent how the characters grow based on their experiences, but on the flip side, character also influences action–I have been forced to change plot points because my characters would no longer do things that way. Once I get settled into a series, I can plot more “long-term” because I have a better idea of how the characters will change and grow.”

Kate Avery Ellison, Author of The Kingmakers War

“I do character arcs on a book by book basis, because I’m never sure where the story will carry my characters through the full series. Sometimes it’s fun to throw a character a curveball, and make them grow because of it.

Melissa Wright, Author of King of Ash & Bone

“I plot out my main characters and let the sides develop over time. Character development is super important for me as a writer, taking precedence over plot. However, I prefer writing where I don’t know everything about every character ahead of time, which makes the process a little more exciting. It’s kind of like seeing the story unravel through my main characters eyes.”

Belle Malory, Author of The Twelfth Keeper Series

“I plot out the action and see if I can identify how the character will grow as a result of the events she gets tangled up in. Which I guess translates as letting the character naturally develop. More recently I’ve been doing less plotting and seeing what happens naturally, but in general there are a few major events that I can look at and say “this character would do X as a result of this. Often, if the character is dynamic to begin with, interesting to the reader, a drastic change is a bad idea because you end up with a character who is different from what the reader signed up for. So it’s a delicate balance.” 

Melissa McShane, Author of The Crown of Tremontane Series

“In the past, I never hardly ever plotted character arcs beyond one book, for one good reason. I began my career writing stand-alones. Crazy, right? At the time, I had one goal in mind. I wanted to write a book in every genre. Younger me didn’t know anything about marketing, or how even in the traditional publishing world, stand-alones rarely sell as well as a series. All my fellow author friends were writing series, and eventually, I caught onto the idea. Which is why I’m just now finishing my Wylder Tales series in December. I say all this to say, I learned everything the hard way and the same applies to character arcs.”

Jennifer Silverwood, Author of Silver Hollow


We hope you enjoyed this issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel free to share your own questions about writing and publishing in the comments below. If you have a dream, don’t give up on it. Pursue it, work it, make it happen one day at a time. Happy writing!

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