Secrets of writing in different voices - Authors A.I.

Alessandra Torre
November 18, 2021

The more stories you create, the more voices you will need to “speak” as — and that can be difficult, especially if those characters are a different gender, background or age than you. In our most recent First Draft Friday chat, I spoke with Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jeff Wheeler, who shared his tips for writing in different voices and point of views.

In our live chat, we took questions from the audience and discussed how to research and build your characters, using alpha/beta readers to keep you on track, and his trick to keep his characters fresh in his mind.

Jeff shared:

  • Plot versus character writers and which he is
  • How you can use real people as the inspiration for your characters
  • Using alpha or beta readers and the type of feedback they can share
  • How he uses historical events and books in his character building
  • How images can be used during the writing process and where to find those images
  • The different ways that sound can contribute to the writing process and flow
  • And so much more!

Click below to watch our discussion or continue reading for the transcript. 

About Jeff:

Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to write full time. He is a husband, father of five and a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff lives in the Rocky Mountains. His books have been on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list five times (for The Thief’s Daughter, The King’s Traitor, The Hollow Crown, The Silent Shield and Prism Cloud) and have sold more than 4 million copies. His novels have also been published or will be published in many languages, including Italian, Chinese, Hungarian, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, Russian and German. 

Jeff is also the founder of Deep Magic: the E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction, and he’s a founding author at BingeBooks.

If you enjoy the video, please explore our other First Draft Friday chats.

More on this topic

Jeff Wheeler’s website:

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Explore Marlowe (our A.I. manuscript analysis tool):


Alessandra: Hi everyone. This is First Draft Friday. I am your host, Alessandra Torre with Authors AI, and I am so excited about this topic and about this guest. I’m joined today by Jeff Wheeler who will introduce himself in just a moment. And we’re going to talk all about writing in unique voices. So, writing from different characters’ points of view and having a unique voice when you do that. So welcome, Jeff. We’re so excited to have you here. Do you want to introduce yourself?

Jeff: Thank you. So good to be here with you guys, and it’s awesome to have this privilege. So again, my name’s Jeff Wheeler. I’m a fantasy author. I typically write epic fantasy. I’ve got over 35 books. I’m kind of a hybrid where I publish through Amazon publishing, but I also do some indie titles on my own. I write about three to four books a year, and so I come up with a lot of characters. And so, I happy to come to kind of talk about my method in my madness to how to come up with characters that are interesting and memorable and hopefully you’ll get some tips out of this.

Alessandra: And just as a background where this came from guys, and for any of you watching, don’t be shy, we’ll be taking your questions throughout the show, so pop the questions as they come in the comment section. But we recently had a reader chat about Jeff’s books and one of the comments that they kept mentioning over and over again was the different characters, and then how varied and unique each of the characters were. And another comment they made Jeff is that you write a lot of strong women and you can write from the female point of view quite well. So as soon as we finished that chat, I was like, oh my gosh, I need to see if Jeff can come on and talk about this because this is such a tough thing for so many authors. And I know for me, my first few characters were all the same. They were just my personality put into a character. Developing different voices and different personalities is not an easy thing to do, so I’m really excited. You have three or four tips for us today for writing in unique voices, so do you want to just jump in with the first one?

Jeff: Before the first one, let me just share kind of how I came to this part of the journey, because I’ve kind of always thought that a lot of authors are either plot authors or they’re character authors. And for me, what I started off, I think I was a hundred percent on the plot author part of the thing. I was a history major in college. I love twists and turns. I love complex plots and things like that. And so, I was always coming up… I never had a problem coming up with story. That’s always the things that came to me the first, but it was my wife who kind of pointed this out to me. And she’s like, you know, a lot of your characters kind of sound like you and they kind of seem like you. And my wife and I have known each other since we were high school students, I mean, we’ve been together for a very long time. And her favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. And so she’s like, look, you know, JK Rowling, Harper Lee – look, it’s the characters, Jeff. It’s the characters that are what make things memorable, so like you need to work on this.

She’s read my earliest stuff that has never seen the light of day and never will. And so she kind of encouraged and challenged me to work on that because I was really kind of just one side. And so, I spent a lot of time trying to come up with, well, how do I make characters like To Kill a Mockingbird or like Harry Potter or something that would do that. And so that’s where I came up with some of these tips because it didn’t just happen with, you know, they didn’t all come at the same time to me, but I kind of have developed them. And I’ve used these tips in all of this series that I’ve written since then, so that’s kind of a background. I have to get my wife credit because obviously writing a female voice, being a guy I have needed help along the way to be able to do that, if that makes sense.

Alessandra: I love that background and I need to memorize this quote. One of our guests talked about how great characters can save a horrible plot. You can have a very flat or boring plot, but if you have really great characters, the readers will love the book and they’ll read it, but horrible characters will not be saved by a great plot. If you have a great plot and no one cares about the characters and no one is invested in them or likes them or is intrigued by them or hates them, you know, then you can’t save that book. So I agree, and I love your wife’s contribution. She’s a very wise woman.

Jeff: Thank you. I agree. And I love that quote, it’s so true because if you don’t do the characters right, nothing else matters. And so, I spent so much time coming up with the characters. You know, the story comes easy to me and it often I’ll start with the story, but then I’ll think who needs to be the star of the story. So tip number one that I have for this and one I use all the time is really the ability to watch and observe people, like people that I know, it’s, you know, authors are people Watchers and, and, and you have to be, and it’s you find those characters by the people that you actually find in real life. So many characters in my books have come with people that I’ve worked with when I was working in Intel people that I’ve met at church or in the community or other places I’ve moved around over the years.

And so certain people like, oh, man, this person really stands out. Just coincidentally last weekend was Halloween. And I was at a trunk or treat in our neighborhood with, at our, our church put on. And there’s somebody in our congregation who started to be a fan of my books. And, and, you know, as you started reading them, I’m like, have you gotten to your character yet? And he’s like, he’s this grizzly kind of bear of a man. He’s huge. And he works at, he works at like a nuclear lab. I mean, he’s just, he’s a very interesting man. I’ve used somebody observing, he’s like, I’m in your books. So I’m like, yeah. I’m like, he’s like, which one? I’m like, I’m not going to tell you, you’re just going to have to find it, but I’ll help you out. I’ve only been here for a couple of years, so it’s got to be one of the more recent ones.

So I happened to be talking to him at the trunk or treat last weekend and I’m like, did you find yourself? And he said, I did. And you know, because it was his name. So that kind of made it easy, but I didn’t want to tell him what book it was in. And he said, oh man, he’s like, I shared it with my wife. And I said, this is scary. He knows me better than you do. And so I just, I just laughed because, you know, there’s certain things that there are certain Edo synchros sees people have, I liked a friend of mine. We called them idiot secrecies. And so when we, we were all revealing ourselves in the way we talk, the way we walk, the way we interact with people. And so authors keep their eyes open for people like, like, wow, this person would be interesting as a side character or a support character or a main character.

I’ve, I’ve used all of those different things. And so for, for me, especially when I was learning to write in a, you know, to write a strong female character the first book I really did that in was my wretched of Muirwood book. And thankfully I tapped into my 16 year old niece at the time. And I asked her to be an early reader. Like I would write a couple chapters and I would send them to her. And I was saying, look, I want to make sure my reactions are realistic. And if she’s a teenage girl and you, you need to help me to be able to make sure. And, and so she would, she would give me feedback chapter after chapter to be like, well, I would’ve probably put it this way, or this is how I would react to that situation. And so, that coaching really at the beginning helped me quite a bit.

Alessandra: That’s a great idea. I love that. And oftentimes we don’t want to share, you know, like I know I’m insecure with my early drafts, but I love that idea of sending as you write with an ideal, especially if it’s someone who is so drastically different from you, I’m assuming that mentally, you’re not like a 16 year old girl.

Jeff: No, it’s true. And so, that process helped me. Also my other readers, like my sister my youngest sister is one of my earliest readers. Every time I write my chapters during the week, I send them to her at the end of the week. So it’s all rough draft, it’s all early stuff, but I send them to her and she’s been a part of my process for over a decade now. And so she’ll respond, you know, only three chapters at a time and she’ll tell me if I’m missing a mark on something. She’ll tell me whether she’s confused by something and often her questions end up rolling into the next chapters, because I’m able to explain it. She’s like, wow, you resolve things. It’s because you’re telling people what’s happening. She has no idea where the story is going – for me, I can’t, sometimes I’m in the middle of it I can’t see it objectively. And so, having that initial feedback, and then my wife is an early reader. She didn’t want to read it chapter to chapter, but when I’m done with the book, she’s one of the first people who reads it as the whole thing. And she’ll read it over a weekend and then she’ll give me her pointer. It’s like, you know, you’re describing the food more than you’re describing how the couple is holding hands. And it’s like, yeah, you’re right. And so that feedback is very, very valuable to me just to have that other perspective before my readers ever see it, it goes through some of those layers beforehand..

Alessandra: I love that. So that’s a fantastic tip. We watch people anyways, but a lot of times we’re not doing it kind of in an intelligent way in terms of translating that to character building.

Jeff: Yeah, look for those idiots secrecies that people have, because those are the things that become memorable to a character. So, you ready for the next step?

Alessandra: I’m ready.

Jeff: Awesome. So I’ve mentioned before that I was a history major in college, and for me, that was really great training to help become a writer because you have to read a lot of boring books because they are history books, they’re not novels. But it’s going through the actual historical details of things that actually comes and it brings a lot of different characters to life. So I read a lot of histories and I read a lot of biographies of historical people because often, it’s maybe not the person themselves, but maybe some of the cast or the side characters that are in those histories that can jump off the page and really surprise you. So an example I have for that is in my second Muirwood Series the period of history that kind of inspired me was the time of the Tudor dynasty in England.

And so, in fact all my bookshelf right over here, I have several biographies of Mary Tudors. She was Henry the eighth daughter who ended up ruling and they were calling her, her nickname was Bloody Mary. It wasn’t just an alcoholic drink, she was actually a person. And a lot of people don’t really know anything about her. And because of the time period, I said, let me go grab a couple of these biographies. And as I read these biographies and I read people who knew her, I read some of the dialogue that she proportionally said; you can really learn a lot about somebody just in how they speak and how they respond and react to really difficult situations. I mean, she was told, you know, this is during the Protestant reformation and she was Catholic. She was told, you’ve got to leave your church.

That was a really hard thing for her, and she refused to do it. And because she refused to do it, a lot of really hard things happen to her, you know, her dad disinherited her and all these things happen to her. And so reading about her history and the people that she was around, ended up inspiring a lot of this little sub-cast of characters that ended up in that Muirwood book. So history I have found, just to be so helpful as you read about what really happened and especially comes up with great plot twist because history never rolls out as an author with plan. And so having those ideas coming from history, but definitely being inspired by people from the past and often just biographies of different people that I’ve read, just different characters have come up through there and just the ways of describing them and what made them memorable, why did I like that person, that’s been just a great thing. You’ve got to be able to read through boring stuff sometimes, but if you’re naturally interested in the era, you can slog through some of those things. And sometimes those biographies that I’ve read have inspired series that I’ve written just by reading some of those. And so, I’ve made money off of reading boring books. That’s not a bad trade-off for me.

Alessandra: Not about trade-off. I was thinking about contemporary fiction because I think especially if you are writing fantasy or something that’s set in a different era, that would be fantastic. But I think the same tip could be applied to contemporary fiction. And you could read biographies of successful people. I mean, there’s a lot of current biographies out there. And getting the mindset of someone, if you’re writing a character like Mark Zuckerberg or something like that, you know, reading a book about that. So I think it can apply to both historical, but also current.

Jeff: It’s true. And I don’t limit what my biography is to just the past either. You’re right. I’ve read a lot of Walter Isaacson stuff on Steve Jobs. I started reading a biography on Mark Zuckerberg after watching the social network. And it’s like, and so, yeah, you can be inspired from characters in modern times and you can take those human aspects of them and transport them into another world too. And so, it absolutely applies regardless of the genre that you’re working on.

Alessandra: I love that.

Jeff: All right, so let’s do number three. This is one of my favorite ones and part of my process before I even start writing a book or even after I’ve started, but I spent a lot of pre-work, you know, reading stuff, watching movies, but one of the things that I try to do to help me visualize my characters is I go to websites like Istock photo or Deposit Photos, or catalogs of medieval clothing or anything to try to help me visualize a character. What I really like about like on Istock photo; I just used that recently to find a villain for something I’m writing right now is you can put in different query parameters to be able to say, I’m looking for a certain race, a certain age or gender. And then it gives you thousands of pictures to troll through. And of course, that’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

But sometimes as I’ve, as I’ve been looking for like a villain to a story, sometimes just the pose that that person has sometimes the look on their face will be like, oh, that would be a great villain or that would be a great protagonist. Because sometimes, just whoever that model was, is trying to present a personality in just the way that they look. And so, I can’t say how many times I have found my lead characters, whether the heroes or the villains on a stock photography site where their personality came through in the photograph.

An example from my very first Muirwood Series, I mentioned my niece was the 16 year old example. Well, my niece at the time had kind of long curly blonde hair. And so, I wasn’t intentionally trying to make my character like her, but as I was going through a photography site, looking for a teenage girl with curly blonde hair, I came across a photo shoot of a model from somewhere in the world. I have no idea, but, you know, I just was like, just looking at the smile on her face, the way she was looking at the camera, the kind of the poses and stuff. I’m like, that’s her, this could be my niece, like totally. And so I would save those pictures from Istock onto my computer. And so right before I write the chapters or when I’m trying to get into that character again, I’ll just go to that folder where I have those pictures. And I’ll just start looking at them again to say, what was it about those pictures that helped me understand her personality and how would she react in that situation?

So I use a lot of photographs to help me kind of get into the mode or get into the head or the mindset of those characters as I’m writing those scenes. And especially when you have multiple shots of the same person, you can have – because some pictures might be sad, some might be happy, it gives you different modes to kind of play with. And I’ve just found so many times that that has saved me. Sometimes the character might be inspired from history. Sometimes it might be from somewhere else, but going back to that source again, helps me get back into the mindset. Like, how do you do it? I’d be interested in hearing your view on that too.

Alessandra: Yeah, I love the idea. Margaret, one of our viewers said like a character vision board. So do you actually assemble and put them together? I mean, you save and download them and have them where you can…

Jeff: Yeah. I have them in a folder on my laptop. I don’t put them like on a PowerPoint or something, but I know about a lot of people do vision boards, but for me, that’s what I do. I’ll go through that folder and I’ll just start looking picture by picture to kind of just remind me of those shots that helped inspire me.

Alessandra: Yeah, I’ve created a Pinterest board before that’s similar. And it’s not just characters, I’ll do it with the setting and the location and what I think their room looks like, or where they met or something like that, so I do that too. Irene to ask, what are the names of the photo websites you use? So you said Istock Photo; is that correct?

Jeff: Istock Photo, I use Deposit Photos. I looked for free ones. You could never go wrong with a Google image search. So just go to, and sometimes it’ll lead you towards, like, if I’m looking for a medieval costume, for example, like the character in my Muirwood Series, Colvin, who’s kind of the love interest in Lia, I found him looking for a medieval leather jerkin. I think that was even the search term, medieval leather Jerkin. And there’s a picture came up of this young man with this kind of brooding look on his face and he wasn’t smiling at all. He looked really dark and tense, and I went to the website, which was a medieval catalog for period costumes and stuff. And I snapped that picture. I found that same model in a couple other pictures too. And I’m like, that’s my Colvin. He just absolutely characterized that. So I use some of those – I tried to do the free ones. There’s plenty of different stock photos. You don’t have to pay for it. You can see the samples for free and download them to be able to find that. But those are some of the ones, but often just Googling certain terms will bring you to a website where you’ll find a bunch of other ones.

Alessandra: And you talked about having to bludge through historical documents to find that piece. Stock photo websites can also be a black hole. And sometimes it’s entertaining. I mean, a lot of them are very over-animated and that sort of thing. You might drudge through a lot of yucky before, but like you said, when you find that character or that person and I liked the idea of an image, because then you can really assign any personality to it. A lot of times I’ll find a muse, but it’ll be like, oh, it’s someone who looks like Reese Witherspoon, but who acts like character XYZ on a show or on a movie. So a lot of times, or my aunt, you know, Rita. So a lot of times I’ll kind of Frankenstein together a main character or a side character from someone who looks like somebody I know, or an actress or something. And then, you know, I pulled a personality from someone else in the job from someone else, so a lot of times that’s how my characters…

Jeff: Well, that’s actually a really good point as I’ve done a lot of research on creativity because you’ve got to turn out three to four books a year, you know what that’s like. Creativity actually comes by the mashing together of different things. And so, taking they look like this, they act like this, they sound like this is actually how the process happens. So by deliberately doing that, by going and finding things and mashing them together, that’s where the greatest things come together. I had the opportunity years ago of interviewing the screenwriter who wrote the script for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And I asked him, I was like, how did you come up with Jack Sparrow? Because talk about a character that has stood the test of time, that was just… and that was such a delightful conversation to be like, how did you…? Very similar to a mashup of different things. But sometimes a character can stand out so much that they become just almost like immoral, because people could just think about the way they swagger and talk and things. And it’s like, and you know they’ve done a good job, and other authors are like, I am so jealous of how you do it.

Alessandra: And that’s a great example, Pirates of the Caribbean. We just watched it recently. You know, I hadn’t seen it in a decade or however long since it came out. But I remember watching, I was specifically paying attention. We were talking about how great of a job Johnny Depp did, but he did a great job with a great character. I mean, that character was written in a fantastic way. And I think without that character, I don’t know that that movie or without him, I don’t know that that movie would have taken off as it did. He really makes that whole movie. The rest of the cast just supports the Jack Sparrow show. And someone said, including Keith Richards. I remember reading about Keith Richards, so I think Johnny Depp…

Jeff: Was inspired by him as he was coming up with the persona. So again, you’ve looked at, here’s the script, then you have an actor using another point of reference; it all comes together. It’s awesome. It’s awesome.

Alessandra: It is. Someone asked, “What other fiction books inspired you? The Wheel of Time?” I’m not familiar with the wheel of time. Is that something…?

Jeff: That’s Robert Jordan. So Robert Jordan did the Wheel of Time, and I believe it’s Amazon… No, Amazon’s doing Lord of the Rings. I think it’s Netflix. One of the two is doing the Wheel of Time series and it’s coming out in a couple of months, so that’s an epic fantasy series. Robert Jordan, he was not one of my inspirations; for me was Terry Brooks. He’s one of the original fantasy legends from the seventies that made me fall in love with the genre and stuff. But yeah, definitely, a lot of us were inspired by Terry Brooks, for sure. And he’s been one of my mentors too. I was able to attend a creative writing class that he taught. He actually did a plug for one of my books, my First Argentine Series and to get him to do a plug for me, that was like, so cool.

Alessandra: That will be the greatest. I would, yeah. I would absolutely. Yes, someone said these tips are great so far. I keep screenshots of them on my phone and keep them in front of me as I write. And also songs that remind me of my characters and songs have definitely helped me. Like I was writing a book set in the eighties, and I just listened to eighties songs and it just brought me back to that point in my life and how old I was and how I felt during that time and the decisions that I made.

Jeff: You know, I was sitting at a frozen yogurt place with my wife and a song came on that I’d never heard before. But as I was listening to the song, it was like the love story I wanted for my First Argentine Series. And so, I love technology today. So I whip out my phone. I’m like, “Siri, what’s this song?” And she is able to label it for me. So I was able to go home and I listened to it and listen to it over and over again. So every time I was writing scenes with Claire and Ransom, I would often listen to that song because I guess it captured the kind of love story I wanted to tell in it. So, yeah, music, absolutely. But I don’t use music as I write, totally a distraction to me.

Alessandra: It is. So are you a silent writer, door closed, no distractions?

Jeff: Door closed, white noise machine on and noise-canceling headphones, which is weird, but it totally works for me. It is able to block out – the white noise blocks out like the cars going down the street, but then the noise-canceling headphones just help put me in a flow state that I’m able to just turn out a chapter just really fast in that setting.

Alessandra: And then how long do you write for?

Jeff: In fact, I just finished a chapter before this, it usually takes me about two hours to write a chapter and I do three chapters a week. And then about a book every three months, just at that pace, it just gives me the right balance.

Alessandra: OK, so it’s like a two-hour session. Oh, I’m going to try the white… I’ve never tried with white noise before, and our house is so chaotic. There’s always dogs barking. There’s people running down the halls, you know, somebody needs something urgently at all times, so yeah. And Janet says, “I was thinking about writing while I’m on the bus, so I could see noise-canceling here.” I could even see listening to white noise through headphones.

Jeff: Yeah. I’ve written on airplanes that way, where I’ll do a white noise on my headset, on my noise-canceling headset while I’m on a plane writing my chapter because I’m going to Comicon or something. So, it helps me get into the zone faster than just about anything else.

Alessandra: Yeah. And only watch, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Chris Fox speak, but he talks about sprinting and tips for sprinting – sprinting, for those of you watching are short burst of highly efficient writing time. But he said your mind, if you can always do certain things, it causes your mind to be like, oh, OK, I’m in writing mode. So if you always sit down at the same desk, or are you always have a cup of hot tea right before you write; your brain is like, OK, I’m about to start writing, I need to start. So I could see your triggers, you know, your maybe mental triggers or white noise in that.

Jeff: Same concept was taught in The War of Art, which is a really good book that I recommend for authors. I write when inspiration strikes me, but inspiration strikes me at eight o’clock on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Alessandra: I liked that, The War of Art. OK. I’m going to look that up. So you only have one minute left. I know you had one more tip. Do you think we have time to share it or do you…?

Jeff: I’ll be real quick because to me, it’s the Jack Sparrow approach. It’s actually reinventing other characters. So what I like to do is I will grab a character from a Shakespeare play, like not like the main character, but like there’s one of my fans favorite characters for my Muirwood Series, I stole from Shakespeare’s Henry the fifth, even a phrase he kept using. He was a Welsh soldier who says, “Bye, chesh you.” And so I actually used that line “Bye chesh you” in Muirwood. I totally stole it from Shakespeare. And most people don’t even know that that’s a line that he used, but it was just perfect. So often I will take my cast of characters, like for my Harbinger’s series, which is kind of a Victorian kind of series, I grabbed a character from Charles Dickens, a character from Jane Austin and a character from Anthony Trollope. And so, three different worlds, brought them together to play three different roles and stuff. And then I stole a character from real history. I was watching BBCs Victoria. And so I started researching her and I was like, oh, I don’t want to steal Victoria, I want to steal somebody who was related to her; read her biography, stole her, completely. So, I call that reinventing other characters. Because when you bring those personalities in from Shakespeare at other places and just reinvent them for the series that you’re doing, you’re not telling the same story, you’re borrowing the character and re-purposing them for another thing. And I have done that for so many of my books and so many of my different worlds and brought them together.

Alessandra: I love that. And think of how often you read a book and you’re like, oh my gosh, this side character is totally stealing the show. You know, they need their own book. Well, you could write a book with that character.

Jeff: And I’ve done that.

Alessandra: I love that. We did have one more question. Irena said, what’s one book you get inspired by, and I’m not sure if she means inspired as a writer or inspired by your books. I will tell you the book that inspired me the most when I started out was On Writing by Stephen King. That was a book that I read half halfway through, and I was like, oh my gosh, I’m ready to write my first book. And I sat down and I did it. But do you have any books that really inspire you either… I know you mentioned your favorite fantasy author and where you got inspiration there, are there any craft books that really…?

Jeff: As I look on my shelf, I do have Stephen King’s On Writing there. I’ve got Terry Brooks, Sometimes the Magic Works. But the War of Art, in terms of setting yourself up for removing distractions and getting yourself into the zone, I found that book to, like, I had already learned the principles from it before reading it, but as I read it, I’m like, yes, yes, and this and this. And so, I recommend it to all the other – Steven Pressfield, I think is the author. It’s a play on words because Sun Tzu the Chinese general wrote the Art of War, which I’ve read, and it’s a really good book on military strategy. But the War of Art, it talks about the internal battles that we go through as an author to get into the zone and to deal with imposter syndrome and those things to be faced with, so I really liked that.

In terms of books that inspired me, I love Terry Brooks, but I also love Sharon Kay Penman. Her medieval history novels really have inspired a lot of the style that I have and that ability to make it unpredictable because history is so unpredictable. And so reading her books, where you just can’t count or predict or know what the ending is going to be because it’s actually happened that way. I leverage a lot of that in my plots, so the end characters too. I don’t ever want readers pick up my books and go, I know exactly where he’s going with this. No, you’re going to have to wait until the end to figure out because I’ve got twists and turns that you don’t see coming.

Alessandra: That’s my goal with every book when I sit down is, I hate as a reader starting to read and going, oh, well obviously this, this, and this is going to happen. So yeah, that’s the cardinal sin me is that. In another book, just recommendation. And this has been recommended to me several times; I haven’t read it, but if I had to guess the title is Steal like an Artist. I bet it’s about borrowing characters and borrowing ideas from other art and using it in your own work. And I’ve had three people recommend that to me and I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet. So if anyone’s interested in that tip from Jeff, that might be a great book to check out.

Jeff: It was actually Steve Jobs who was quoting, I think, Picasso, who said, you know, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

Alessandra: I didn’t know that. Absolutely, that’s where the title must come from.

Jeff: You know, Steve Jobs, I’ve studied a lot about him. He absolutely stole most of his awesome ideas from other people. And it’s like, yeah, and made it better. And that’s the thing. You’re not just stealing it, you’re taking the idea and then trying to make it better. And we all do that with each other every day.

Alessandra: I love it. Thank you so much, Jeff, for joining us today. Thank you guys for chiming in and for asking your questions and interacting with us. This has been a great First Draft Friday. We have another one loading up in two weeks and you can check out all of our replays at You can also check out Marlowe who is our fiction, loving artificial intelligence. She can read your manuscript and provide feedback in just a few minutes. So, please check us out at And if you’re interested in reading Jeff’s books or finding out more about him, you can find him at Anywhere else that they should look for you, Jeff?

Jeff: I’m on social media as well, but go to my website, that’s the best place. People always say, where do I start with your books? I have a suggested reading order on my website, and Google says that’s the top landing place that people find.

Alessandra: That was my question, what books should they start with? So, absolutely. So check out And thank you so much, Jeff. It’s been great to have you here. Thank you, guys. We’ll see you in two weeks.

Jeff: Alright, bye-bye.

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