Using Reader Input in your Story Writing Process

I talk about what I’ve learned about including reader character creations into my novels, and an update on new characters in Antioch Burns!

Hi all,As many of you may know, I recently completed a Kickstarter program that helped me to fund a large portion of Copper Centurion’s cost. This go around, I offered a reward level that allowed the backer the option to create a character in my upcoming novel, Steam Empire Chronicles #3 – Iron Tribune.

However, I thought it would be easier – and better – to have the characters (or several of them) introduced through a novella – in this case, Antioch Burns. I’d like to share with you what I’ve discovered from my experiences.

  1. Communicate Early, and make your expectations clear – Of the four people who contributed that level of money, one gave me plenty of information, two gave me some, and one gave me very little information to go on. So I sent an email, then one, then two. Both times I set ‘deadlines’ for people to return information by for inclusion in the story.

Then I waited.. and waited..

You get the point. So I started out writing the novella, and to my surprise recently got a very large ‘info dump’ of information that will be extremely helpful in writing this particular character. But I did have to go back and rearrange some parts of the story – which was fine, I was just three pages in.

2. Accept the fact that people may not commit – Yes, even if people say they want to help, they may not. Oh well, nothing I can do.

3. Remember that every character you get is a blessing! Look at it this way, I don’t have to come up with a very detailed background for this character, nor a name (easier in some genres, harder with Roman background) – Also, I don’t have to come up with characteristics or habits, as someone has already done that for me. Indeed, I was able to start spinning the story in a direction I think I like.

4. In the end, it’s all about how well you spin the story – Just remember. In the end, you’re the boss!

By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out my novels Brass Legionnaire and Copper Centurion. I’m exceptionally proud of both of these novels, and they’ve reached #2 and #6 on the Steampunk Amazon Chart in the last week or so. In addition, Both novels have been consistently ranked top ten in multiple ebook categories (Greek and Roman, Myths, and Alternate history being a few).


Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

4 thoughts on “Using Reader Input in your Story Writing Process”

  1. I still think you’re brave to let people do that. I know for me, I let my characters approach me, and they won’t at all if there’s no connection there, so I am always wary of having people give me a character to work with out of the blue (to me, it’s kind of the equivalent of a blind date 😛 ) That being said, I’d love to try it sometime unofficially, like in a short story, and I’m very interested to see how yours turns out 🙂 And oh my gosh, don’t get me started on choosing Roman names. This is why I love auxiliaries so much.

  2. I have to admire your courage for not only accepting to add someone’s character to your book, but to accept 4 at once! It is a unique opportunity to be able to be a part of a book like this, I look forward to reading about your progress!

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