Plot Twists

When done right, a plot twist can infuse the story with a whole new level of drama that keeps the reader reading. There are different types of plot twists, and each one has its own function for moving the story forward. But remember, just because plot twists exist, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Putting in a grand reveal just for shock value will only make the story you’ve worked so hard on, feel a little cheap. 

The Betrayal

Just like the name suggests, this comes about when one character is presumed to be on one side of the conflict, but then later betrays their loyalties. It is one of the more common plot twists used. And typically, this kind of plot twist happens when the traitor is someone on the protagonist’s side. However, it can be just as interesting if not more interesting when the betrayal occurs on the antagonist’s side. 

The Lie

This plot twist is an exposure of a truth about the world that has been hidden from the protagonist. The main character gets a reveal of the “true state” of the world around them, which then challenges their fundamental idea of their place in the world and how they fit into it. It’s a great starting point for them to go on a hero’s journey. 

The Different Identity

This is a plot twist that happens when one character is revealed to not be who they said they were. This can either have a positive or negative impact on the plot, so be wary when using a different identity.

Author Interview with Damascus Mincemeyer

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Damascus Mincemeyer, an author in the History anthology.


1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I took to writing immediately in Kindergarten when I was five. As soon as I could read and write I was creating little stories and books. My Grandmother encouraged me, too, and always bought me markers, pens, paper, books, comics–anything to feed my buzzing brain. A lot of my childhood tales ranged the gamut from adventure to science fiction to what I now know is called ‘bizzaro’ (Some were very, very strange). An oft-told anecdote of mine is that the very first thing I ever created (also at age five) was a horror story about a man coming back from the dead. I wrote it at the babysitter’s house, and enlisted the babysitter’s daughter into providing illustrations for it. When the babysitter read it, however, she was so repulsed by what we’d made that she ripped up the story and threw it away! It was my auspicious debut and I’ve been freaking people out ever since.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

Well, in addition to being a writer, I’m also a professional artist and whenever I get stuck on a story I switch to doing a visual art project. It whets my appetite for being constructive and creative, but allows my mind a break from the sometimes draining effects of the written word. For a looooong time my main goal in life was actually to be a comic book creator. I never quite succeeded, though I did manage to get published several times in Heavy Metal magazine. I started doing horror art in earnest for Deadman’s Tome publishing in 2018, initially for the covers to anthologies such as Bikers Vs The Undead, Psycho Holiday, Monsters Vs Nazis, Mr. Deadman Made Me Do It, Satan Is Your Friend, Monster Party, Wolfwinter and Hollywood Holocaust. I’ve also done the cover for Ryan Woods’ debut novel The Journal of Cinnamon Paige: Un-Death By Chocolate. And all that has helped me to keep the creative juices flowing when a literary barrier rises in my mind.

3. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written two book thus far: the short fiction collection Where the Last Light Dies and my forthcoming horror novel By Invitation Only, but I’ve had roughly thirty stories published in various anthologies, magazines and websites in the past four years. But pick just one as my favorite??? Arrrrgggh!!! I can’t!

There are a few short stories I’ve done that I’m really proud of, though: ‘A Night At Satan’s Palace’ is about two old guys in their seventies who stop by a Las Vegas strip club where the strippers are demons in disguise and intent on opening a portal to Hell. I like its mix of comedy and horror, and it’s the story I’d share with someone unfamiliar with me to showcase my work. I’m also enormously pleased with two alternate-history tales I’ve written: ‘The Spirit of St. George’, about U.S. ace Eddie Rickenbacker leading a biplane squadron against awakened dragons in an alternate 1922, and ‘Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam’ from the Hell’s Empire anthology, which focuses on a demonic invasion upon Victorian Britain.

The problem is that all my work has something special in it to me. They’re all my babies in a way, and I think any writer can relate to being unable to choose just one.

4. Where do you get your inspiration?

Several years ago I subscribed to an email newsletter from Tampa, Florida, called ‘Salsa Ray’s Ideas 4U’. Every week they send ready-made concepts to my in-box, and while half are junk, some are surprisingly effective. No, I’m messing with you. I literally get my inspiration from everywhere. The strangest things will give me ideas–sometimes its a news story, an anecdote, something that happened in my life. Sometimes its an odd observation I’ve had or just something I wish I could see in a movie or read in a book but can’t find. A surprising amount of my inspiration comes when I’m doing something completely unrelated to writing, like when I’m washing the dishes or mowing the lawn. A lot of my ideas also derive from my sick sense of humor. 

5. What do you hope your readers take away from your work?

Any storytelling journey is a silent covenant between the writer and reader; each brings their own experiences and viewpoints to the tale, and I as a writer can only control my end of the bargain. I don’t really have any preconceived notion of what a reader will take from my work because I’m not able to fill in their own individual reference points. I just try to write what I find amusing and entertaining to me, and the fact that it appeals to others at all is a very blessed coincidence in my eyes.

6. Who is your favorite author and why?

James Joyce…oh, crap, I don’t have to lie to pass English Lit 101 anymore. Never mind.

The real hands- down answer to me is H.P. Lovecraft. The man himself was just as strange and fascinating as the fiction he produced, and I always conjure the vision of someone desperate to describe the worlds he’s visualizing in his head. Until I discovered him at age sixteen I had only been exposed to Western Folklore-Judeo-Christian concepts of horror–vampires, werewolves, slashers, demons, angels, etc.–and the idea of Cosmic Horror was a notion that upturned every notion of what I thought fiction was or could be capable of doing. My own writing style doesn’t reflect his influence, but his voice lurks in my mind while I create, particularly in his concept that an upheaval of chaos and disorder is just waiting to tear the veneer of safe civilization apart.

Clive Barker is a very, very close second. His Books of Blood is a collection of such raw, visceral intensity that I don’t think any work of short horror fiction has ever surpassed it, by any author, even by Barker himself. The extent that those tales impacted my seventeen-year-old mind cannot be understated. I’ll round out my list with Neil Gaiman, Harry Turtledove and Colin Wilson.

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

Draw. Cook. Chitter-chat with my online peeps. And I LOVE music–punk and post-punk, metal (black/death/thrash/metalcore), gothic rock, electronic music, ‘80’s New Wave…the list just goes on and on. I usually create a ‘soundtrack’ of songs for a specific story I’m working on to listen to when I’m not writing. I helps set the mental mood, so to speak, for when I sit down for the real work. 

8. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Odd. Creative. Misfit.

9. If you could only have one season, what would it be?

My bliss would be a world of perpetual autumn. Chilly, crisp, clear-sky days, bright colors on the leaves, that smell in the air. If there is a Heaven, I would want it to be autumn. 

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Any reader thus inclined to follow my peculiar vision of the world can learn more about me on both my Amazon Author Page and Instagram accounts.

Author Interview with A.K. Stuntz

Dragon Soul Press interviewed A.K. Stuntz, an author featured in Extinct Worlds and History.


1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but It wasn’t my first choice for a career. I was actually a horseback riding instructor and horse trainer. It wasn’t until after I moved and got married that I started focusing more on my writing.

2. Describe your writing space.

I have a large desk where I do most of my writing. In one area, I keep my laptop where I do all my writing, and off to the left is my notebook with my notes. I also keep my incentive (candy or cookies) within eye sight to encourage me to reach my writing goals.

3. What time of the day do you usually write?

Most of my writing gets done at night. Usually after eight PM.

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

Endings are the hardest part of writing for me. It can take me days just to write the ending to a story. I never feel like they come out right.

5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing the story?

I’m more of a pantser. I do make a very basic outline, but mostly I just look over my notes, read the last paragraph I wrote, and then just start writing.

6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

So far, I have written 7 books. My favorite is Witch’s War. It’s a fantasy about a witch forced into a war after her husband betrays her.

7. Where do you get your inspiration?

I get a lot of my inspiration from pictures. I’m more of a visual person so things I see, like pictures, give me great ideas for stories.

8. How many bookshelves are in your house?

I have five bookshelves currently, but I’m hoping to add another one soon as all my books are spilling out of my bookshelves and filling up my floor.

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

When I’m not writing, I like to read and ride my horse. There is nothing better then racing across an open field on the back of a horse.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Character Backstories

Giving a character a backstory is essentially making them a more well-rounded character. It’s allowing your audience to get a better picture of who they are and what their motives might be.

Backstories are important to all characters – not just the main characters. Side characters, and especially villains, can greatly benefit from having a backstory of their own. It makes them much more real and grounded characters that have layers. Backstories allow you to write characters rather than caricatures. 

But how do you write a backstory without it coming across as cliche or an info dump? There is a trick. 

I like to think of a character’s backstory as an iceberg. You’ve got the top 5 percent that you see, while the other 95 percent is hidden beneath the surface. Much like Hemingway’s Iceberg Principle, if you tell the important parts of a character’s backstory, the whole thing will be easily inferable for the reader. 

That is why, it would be a good idea to write out your character’s entire backstory – just get it all out there on paper. However, the trick is to not take everything from the backstory and dump it straight into your novel. Be strategic. Give the audience only the important or relevant backstory pieces that will help to propel the story forward. Your protagonist being an introvert might not be as necessary information to the story as them being an orphan. But if you write their backstory well enough, the reader will be able to infer the bits that are left out. 

Basically, you should always make a backstory for your characters, but don’t feel the need to dump it all into the book. It is okay to leave some stuff out. That is what makes for a well-developed character. 

Author Interview with Jo Niederhoff

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Jo Niederhoff, an author in the Rogue Tales, Dragons & Heroines, History, Space Bound, and Spirit anthologies.


1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since about as long as I knew stories existed. I told my parents about the fairies that lived in my walls, and about my imaginary babies. I’ve been writing well since high school, when I joined a writing club and started getting feedback on my stories.

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

Editing, definitely. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but it’s so much easier to put words down on paper than to go through and reshape them.

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

I can write just about anywhere. I often have stories running in the back of my mind, which does sometimes mean I miss out on other things happening around me, especially the radio going while I’m driving.

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

To me, success means feeling good about my life as a whole. I would much rather be a small-time writer who is happy every time I sit down at the computer to get some words down than a best-seller who feels like writing has become a chore.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Daydreamer, sarcastic, fidgety.

6. Who is your favorite character?

Of my own, it would have to be a so-far unnamed girl from a novel I keep toying with, about the people left behind in fantasy novels. Her brother vanishes into a traditional fantasy adventure, but the novel would focus more on how she and her family deal with his disappearance. From others’ works, it would have to be Lois Lane or Cordelia LeHane from Amberlough.

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

I’m actually working on a non-writing project which is really exciting; I’m studying to become a speech pathologist. It’s very interesting, but also a little stressful.

8. Who is your favorite author and why?

R. F. Kuang. The Poppy War tore me apart in the best way and showed me what historical inspired fantasy can be at its finest.

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

I do lots of community theater acting, but I also enjoy learning more about all sorts of things (mostly history and biology, but I’m trying to be rounded out with some hard sciences), and I have a quilting project I work on every now and then.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I have Facebook, but I’m on Twitter much more frequently, even if half of what I write there is utter nonsense.