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.

Author Interview with E.L. Summers

Dragon Soul Press interviewed E.L. Summers, an author in the Organic Ink: Volume 5 anthology.


1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for the last twenty years, but at a young age I only saw my writing as a hobby. I had little confidence in my writing. It wasn’t until college, when I had my first piece of fiction published in the college’s literary magazine, that I contemplated the idea of being a full-time writer. I took more creative writing classes and started a regular writing routine. I wish I had more confidence in my writing at the beginning, but sometimes it takes others taking a chance to make you to help chase away your inner demons.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but as a child I wanted to write the stories for video games. The story behind the games is what I enjoyed the most aside from the characters featured in them. I first wanted to write middle grade but feared my stores were copying the authors I had read, so I created my own worlds. Here, I felt free to use my creativity as an outlet for my depression and social anxiety.

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

Hmm… titles can be hard to come up, as you want them to be unique while at the same time drawing interest for your readers. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a title, I’ll leave it blank or use something as a placeholder until I finish the first draft of the project. I tend to focus on the themes of the piece and brainstorm ideas. If that doesn’t work or if I’m dissatisfied with the idea, I’ll reach out to my critique partner for advice.

4. How do you develop your plot and characters?

Characters are always the easiest to come up with and I have a templet for creating characters. The template is a series of questions or prompts to ensure the character is well-rounded and not one- dimensional. Most of the time, I’ll be struck with an idea and create the character before creating ideas of what the plot will be. Despite writing several novels and a series I tend to resist using an outline. I’ll have a few ideas of where I want the story to go and write freely around those plot points.

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

I think aside from grammar and sentence syntax, which arises during the editing phase, I think the most difficult part with writing any project can be creating the world building. I have been told that I am talented in creating a vivid, believable world, but I over think its creation. I tend to stress out and spend too much time on research when keeping my world tied to the real world. I think when you’re creating your own universe, you’re given more creative freedom. Things still must make sense to an extent, if you can justify your creative choices for going outside the norms, then it’s not as restrictive.   

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

Four to six hours, depending on whether it’s a new story or a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’ll spend some time reading what I’ve already written before writing anything new. In the afternoon I’ll take an hour or two to edit any projects I have finished. O tend not to edit as I go while drafting. I find trying to edit while drafting can distract me and lead to procrastinations.

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

What a hard question, I am a mind reader and always looking for new things to read. For poetry it’s a tie between Edgar Allen Poe and Mayla Angelou. They both have different writing styles; Poe’s work can come across as grim and creepy whereas Angelou’s work is flowy and captures emotions and feelings. They both have a way of using words to create vivid imagery. My favorite fiction author is Cassandra Claire and J.K Rowling. They both played a role in getting me into reading and excel at character driven stories focused on a fantasy realm full of diverse characters.

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

There’s no surprise that as a writer, I love reading fantasy, poetry, and paranormal romance. I am a child at heart and love going to amusement parks and carnivals. I love attending art museums and musicals. I enjoy sharing my writing journey and connecting with fellow creative people through creating content for YouTube. I love playing video games, coloring, and watching anime, cartoons, comedic sitcoms, and dramas.

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

I am always working on new ideas; hence I have a notebook full of potential ideas, but to answer your question, I am working with my co-author Luna Nyx Frost to finish our Hunted trilogy and began plotting out a fantasy series inspired by Greek mythology. We wanted to showcase how the gods would overcome adversity if forced to live on Earth with a fraction of their power? There are not many stories in fantasy where the main character is disabled and being blind authors, we wanted to help create more representation for the disabled community.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On my website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Writing 10k in One Day

How many of us have participated in writing challenges like NaNoWriMo or its April and July offshoots of Camp NaNoWriMo? Chances are we’ve done it at least once, maybe twice. But how many of us have been successful at it? We all want to think of ourselves as writers who can pump out a huge word count like it’s nothing. But the reality is many of us really struggle to write even a fifteen-hundred words in one session. 

I recently decided to partake in the July Camp NaNoWriMo. And in my annual fashion, within a week I was well behind my word count goals. It’s not that I didn’t do any writing, it’s just that I got distracted. I started writing everything that wasn’t the manuscript that I was meant to work on. So, what do you do when you’re 10k behind your goal? You do your best to catch up in the span of a weekend. 

But is it possible to pump out 10k in one day? Yes, it is. It just takes a lot of patience, persistence, and a looming deadline that scares the crap out of you. For me, that looming deadline was getting this manuscript finally finished and sent off to a professional editor on the first of August. And that is what got me to write 10k words in one day. 

And here are some useful tips and tricks that I used in order to get it done: 

Know What You’re Writing

This is very important because if you have a direction for your story then the 10k will flow slightly easier. That is why if you’re doing a writing challenge, I highly recommend dedicating the entire month ahead of time to plotting out your story and creating a scene by scene break down. That way when you start tackling your word goal you can write huge chunks of story on a daily basis by just reviewing your notes. And if you need to do a catch up on the weekend, it’s much easier to get through 10k if you’ve got a fully plotted out story than if you’re just writing by the seam of your pants. 

Make A Plan

This isn’t just a plan for your writing, but for your day as well. With plenty of dedication, we can manage 10k in a day. But there is no way that can be done in an hour or two. 10k is 20 pages single spaced, or 40 double spaced. Even the fastest writers can’t manage that in a short span of time – we’ve all tried in college. What you need is a whole day. Clear the schedule, wake up early, and get ready to dedicate a good 8 hours to getting 10k done. 

Take Breaks

Even though you’re planning to be writing for roughly 8 hours in order to hit 10k in one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, take breaks. Breaks are good. Breaks give your mind a chance to reboot for a little bit. I personally like to challenge myself to hour long sprints where I write 1,500 words in an hour, then I reward myself with a little break. During that break I’ll either get up and make a cup of tea or coffee and get back to the writing for another hour (if I happen to find myself on a creative roll), or I’ll go for a walk (if I’m feeling like I’m hitting a wall with my writing). But just be sure that you don’t do anything too strenuous or time consuming during your break that will then end up distracting you. Speaking of which…

Beware Distractions

You know how you can go the whole week not doing the laundry, but then sit down to write and suddenly the laundry needs to be done, the dishes need cleaning, the oven can use a scrub, and the bathtub should really be bleached. Don’t let yourself get distracted. If you’re like me and you can get distracted by household chores either arrange to do your writing in a different location or address the potential distractions ahead of time. If you can do housework the day before writing, do it. If you can go to a local coffee shop or if the weather is nice, write outside in a park or the beach or even your own backyard. If you have kids, arrange a playdate. If you browse the internet too much, disable your wifi and hide your phone. The less distractions there are, the easier it will be to get those 10k words done in one day. 

Keep Pushing Forward

Even if you don’t hit 10k in one day, if you are able to double what you’d normally write in a day then be proud of yourself – you’ve already done well. If you don’t get to 10k in the first try, just keep at it. It took me several consecutive Saturdays before I managed to hit a full 10k in one day. You’ll get there, just keep going. 

2021 Fourth Quarter Book Releases

Listed below are the Dragon Soul Press anthologies that released during the fourth quarter of 2021.
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October

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In a world where so many dark things go bump in the night, terror awaits around every corner as these authors take horror stories to the next level. Discover ghosts, demons, and your worst nightmares. Read at your own risk.

Baby Food by Warren Benedetto

Mister McKenzie by Jacob Steven Mohr

Dark Shadows by L.V. Gaudet

Toil and Trouble by Dylan Roche

Hatchling by Barend Nieuwstraten III

Solyn the Scavenger 2 by Barend Nieuwstraten III

Don’t Breathe His Name by Lincoln Reed

Beauty Kills by Victor Nandi


November

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The fairytale retellings you’ve always needed.

Dive into the nostalgic feel of fairytales, but don’t get too comfortable. This mixture of fantastical twists and origin stories will leave you begging for more.

Presenting a Red Riding Hood who will kill anyone to break a curse, a vengeful child abandoned by his mother to be raised by demons, a Neverland past its glory days, and many more.

The Shadow Queen by Charlotte Langtree

Hans and Gretta by S.A. McKenzie

Upon Reflection by Barend Nieuwstraten III

Lila by Arwen Spicer

A Curse of Red by Danielle Davis

The Alchemical Godmother by Elle Hartford

His Blue Beard by Lauren Marrero

Cat and Mouse by Mindi Briar

The Price of a First-Born by Liv Strom


December

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Real historical events, but with dragons.

These tales highlight important events in our past with the strong influence of dragons. Why did the Library of Alexandria actually burn? Did miners really give up the search for gold because of a shortage? What was Genghis Khan’s true secret to forming a successful empire?

Many more await in the eleven stories within.

Queen of Glass by Toni Mobley

The Spirit of St. George by Damascus Mincemeyer

The Betrothal Trials by Cherie Lynae Cabrera Suski

The War Dragon by A.K. Stuntz

Grumble by R.C. Capasso

The Dragon’s Den by J.R. Rustrian

Dragon’s Lace by Mackenzie Stapleton

Maid Marian and the Elusive Dragon by John Greville

The Khan of Earth and Sky by Clint Foster

Subterranean Kosmos by Jo Niederhoff

Inferno by J.E. Feldman

First Five Pages Checklist

The first five pages of your book are so important. As aspiring authors, we are well aware of their significance. And we place so much time and emphasis on getting them right. While we probably have a fair idea of what to do and not do in our first five pages, here is a quick recap of things to keep in mind when looking at the start of your novel.

Important questions to ask yourself:

Does the first line engage your reader?

Is your main character properly introduced?

Has the POV and narration style been made clear to the reader?

Does your reader get a good feel for the world – i.e. have you set the status quo?

Have you established your main character’s deepest desire?

Is there an inciting incident?

The most important thing to avoid at the beginning of your novel:

The information dump. 

Your reader is only starting to get to know your main character and within these pages, so you don’t want to overwhelm them with backstory or world building information so early on. Remember, you’ve got a minimum of 80,000 words to work with, you can take your time introducing the important background information.