Plotting Twists & Reveals

You’ve started your next writing project and you’re in a rush to perfect it. We’ve all been there and done that, but we must continuously remind ourselves to think things through in order to master the art.

To achieve the best drama, your protagonist must have enough information to make an informed decision. This slowly comes out in stages. By the midway point of the entire story, your character needs to have a good idea of what’s going on and who could possibly be behind it/influencing it. In order to set up the proper twist, don’t give them all of the details (aka NO info dumping).

An easy way to keep yourself in check is by remembering:

  • One reveal per scene or per chapter break.
  • The twist or reveal should cause an emotional effect.

Leave a miniature cliffhanger when you drop a good reveal on the readers. It will set them on edge and they’ll be lured into reading more.

What is the difference between twists and reveals?

  • Reveals are why something happens (backstory info)
  • Twists are what’s actually going on (new knowledge)

Be sure to watch out for the following caveats:

  • Don’t add extremely obvious hints or references. Be subtle enough that readers aren’t able to guess until the last couple of twists fall into place. Make them suspicious, but don’t overdo it.
  • Surprise is only half of it. Twists and reveals need to have an emotional impact or create a life-altering point of view for the protagonist from the moment of reveal and onward.

The number one thing to remember is you want readers to care about your story. Show them a protagonist forced out of their comfort zone by getting dragged through the mud, almost making a comeback, being pounded into the dirt, and then very slowly overcoming their obstacles. Your protagonist should not have a perfect score against all of the hurdles you’ll throw at them, but that’s what makes for an enticing story.

Writing Multiple POVs

Writing a story means deciding what point of view to take. Personally, I prefer singular points of view. It’s easy to keep track of everything that is going on. But at the same time, it can be a little limiting if you want to bring in certain reveals or plot twists, etc. Because of this, there sometimes can be benefits to having two or more points of view for the narration of your story. But keep in mind, you shouldn’t bring in different points of view just for the sake of having multiple voices. There should always be a reason. 

And below, are several tips for writing multiple POVs:

Each POV should add to the story: Your readers should care about the characters that they’re reading. Therefore, if you’re going to use different POVs, each character should serve a purpose. Not only should they help propel the story forward, but they should all be strong, interesting voices that your reader wants to root for.

Understand the story before you write different POVs: Whether you have one POV or more, understanding the story you’re trying to tell is the key to success. While you can kind of get away with figuring it out as you go along while writing from only one perspective, you can’t do this with multiple POVs. It will be entirely evident that you have no idea what is going on in the story. That is why you should know the plot inside and out before attempting to write different POVs. 

Separate your chapters: Don’t put multiple voices into one chapter – you will only confuse your reader. But more importantly, giving each of your character’s their own gives your reader a chance to properly bond with them and get to know them. Plus, it’s another way to add tension to your story because you can do things like leave one of your characters in a cliff-hanger of a situation, while moving on to another chapter – a great way to keep your reader guessing and wanting to continue reading.

Each POV should have a distinct voice: There is nothing worse than reading a book that is supposed to be multiple POVs and it reads all the same. Not only is that confusing for the reader, but it’s boring as well! Developing distinct character voices isn’t just about their dialogue or actions, it’s also about coming up with their internal thoughts and motivations. In fact, their internal thoughts and motivations can be quite powerful in creating a deep sense of who the character is. And once you’ve created your character’s voice, stay true to it. 

Be selective of which character is the narrator: Don’t just throw in several narrators just for the sake of having two or more voices. Much like my first point, each narrator should add to the progression of the story. What I like doing is look at the chapter or scene that I’m writing and then decide which character has the most at stake, what am I trying to convey story-wise, and which character’s perspective would make the most impact. Based off these questions, you can come up with the appropriate narrator. 

How do you handle multiple POVs? Do you like writing multiple POVs or do you prefer only one? Let us know!

Author Interview with Austin Worley

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Austin Worley, an author in the Murder and Mayhem and Organic Ink: Volume 5 anthologies.


1. What inspired you to start writing? 

My biggest inspiration to start writing was my 12th Grade Creative Writing teacher, Ms. Sullivan. Before her class, I had never really considered writing professionally. Her encouragement and confidence in my work ultimately led me to take the plunge. And here I am now: a published author and poet.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

My first method for avoiding writer’s block is to plot out everything before I begin writing, because I find the only time writer’s block is a problem is if I don’t already know where I’m headed or how to get there. When it does set in despite my best efforts, I just push through the block as best as possible. Either the block will subside, or I’ll eventually finish, because even a paragraph or two every day is progress.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, it varies wildly. Sometimes a unique idea for a character suddenly takes shape. This was the case with The Silver Shrike. I loved the idea of a superhero who wanted to prove to the world—and himself, deep down—that he was nothing like his villainous family. Other times, a very loose plot would grab my imagination. “An Oath to the Sun” in Murder & Mayhem was inspired by a little research into methanol poisoning, which made for a great murder mystery.

4. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Oh, this is a tough one. Personal quirks are so difficult to identify yourself. If I had to choose, I’d say the gender imbalance of my protagonists across my entire body of work is my most interesting writing quirk. Most of my stories published and unpublished have female leads. Part of this is because of recurring characters—roughly two-thirds of my published works star either Arlise Dun or Topsannah Price—but even if you only go by unique protagonists, there’s a definite slant towards women. I don’t know why. Lots of male writers find it difficult to write female characters, but that’s never been an issue for me.

5. What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

To me, success means my work ends up in front of readers. Earning a living purely from writing might be my pie-the-sky dream, but readers enjoying my stories is enough success for me.

6. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

Between three and five hours in front of the keyboard is pretty typical, but I spend a lot more time working on writing-related stuff in my head.

7. Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels? 

Series are tough because the deeper into them you go, the more limited you are by what came before. First stories or novels are always easier because you have so much freedom, especially in terms of character and setting.

8. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out? 

Persist. There are going to be times where you doubt your writing is any god. Times when you want to give up on a story or even writing in general, especially once the rejections start piling up. But if you throw in the towel, you’ll never achieve your goals. Persistence is the only pathway to success, whatever success looks like to you.

9. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? 

Right now, I’m preparing for two novels. The first is a novelization of my second-chance superhero romance novelette “Law, Love, and the Whippoorwill”. I feel like expanding this story into a novel will allow me to better develop the characters and their reconciliation. My other project is a military sci-fi romance influenced by Honor Harrington and the work of Linnea Sinclair. Most of the subgenre is centered on marines or space fighter pilots, so I’d like to bring more of a naval focus to the table. Once the pre-writing is finished, I’ll dive into writing whichever one fires my imagination more.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

You can find out more about me and my work on my website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, DeviantArt, and Wattpad.

Author Interview with Toni Mobley

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Toni Mobley, an author featured in History, Age of Artifice, and Haunt.


1. Who is your favorite author and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! My all-time favorite author is a tie between Sara Douglass and Garth Nix! When I lived in Australia, they were the inspiration for wanting to improve my craft and I have always looked up to them. Sara Douglass created these fantastical worlds with rich history and made it seem so effortless, while Garth Nix perfected memorable characters that have stuck with me even years after reading his books.

2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote my first book at 11 about all my classmates and I on a deserted island, and it was after that I called myself a writer. But it wasn’t until my first short story was published that I called myself an author.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, I usually come up with a plot or a location and then work characters into it. I’ll be inspired by beautiful locations around the world or something I saw in a video game and think, that’s amazing, I want something just like that!

4. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Before I even start writing a book or short story, I’ll create a list of the most important aspects of the book, including several titles. It isn’t until I’ve finished writing that I sit down and choose the title that most suits the story.

5. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Sticking with my outline! As I’m writing sometimes my characters will change or I’ll decide a location no longer suits the tone of the story and I’ll have to go back and nitpick everything. Or, more often than not, I’ll be halfway through writing a story and inspiration will strike and I’ll want to completely rewrite what I’ve written.

6. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

I can spend hours and hours writing, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. But I’m not just writing, often times I’m researching, and I’m sure many people are familiar with researching something innocent like the History of London, England and three hours later they’re learning about particle acceleration.

7. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Although it’s rare to find me not writing, I enjoy spending my free time reading or playing video games. I am a sucker for nature and enjoy going for a drive to the beach or mountains. But I’m just as happy at home watching TV or testing out new recipes I found online.

8. What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

My favorite parts are the people I meet along the way who are just like me, and at the very end being able to hold something in your hands with your name on it and thinking, ‘Wow, this is surreal!’ The least favorite part is the waiting! The publishing industry is notoriously slow with hundreds of moving parts and requires a tremendous amount of patience.

9. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

The first thing (or eight) that you create won’t be perfect. I’ve written a dozen novels, but it was my third book that got me a publisher. Like any form of art, it requires dedication. It’s a craft that you must continuously work on to improve yourself at. Even prolific authors like Stephen King and Nora Roberts are still learning. Read a lot, write a lot, no matter if it’s an article on particle acceleration, or a short poem. Anything and everything helps you to do better!

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can find me on Twitter or my website.

How Long Should a Chapter Be?

A common debate amongst authors is how long should a chapter be? James Patterson has chapters literally one page in length while J.R.R. Tolkien’s are dozens. Both are great authors. Both are infamous. But in the matter of chapter lengths, which one is right? The answer is they both are.

Let’s look at the definition of a chapter before going any further.

Chapter (Noun) – 1. A main division of a book, typically with a number or title. 2. A local branch of a society. 3. The governing body of a religious community, especially a cathedral or a knightly order. 4. A period of time or an episode in a person’s life, a nation’s history, etc.

We know it’s a main division of a book without even having to look at the definition, but look at the last example they give. A period of time or an episode in a person’s life, a nation’s history, etc. This is literally telling you, within the definition itself, that it does not matter how long the length of the chapter is as long as the scene within it is completed. You can still have a cliff-hanger at the end of the chapter, even if it is a page long.

Still not satisfied that the chapter can be any length? Let’s talk about lengthy chapters.

Do you remember seeing those fancy designs in between the text in some books? Those are called divider vectors. They are a visual ending of a scene for the reader. Vectors help to break up longer chapters so the reader is able to find a stopping point, because the reality is we always get interrupted by something while reading. It leaves an easier place to come back to.

Looking back at the definition of chapter again: A period of time or an episode in a person’s life. Your personal life is not cut into perfectly timed portions. An example — you only meant to stay at that Halloween party for two hours, but time whisked away and you found yourself there for five hours. The same goes with writing. One minute your character is behaving themselves and following the script. The next minute, they’re gallivanting across the countryside with a bunch of Dwarves and a wizard.

Do not restrict yourself or your characters on the fairytale ideals of perfect chapter lengths. Of course for young readers, you should make sure the chapters are easily comprehensible. But you still are not limited to a certain word count or a certain page-length for chapters. This is one of the steps that prevents many authors from simply writing.

So, sit down at the keyboard and just write.