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 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. 

Author Interview with Clint Foster

Dragon Soul Press took the opportunity to interview Clint Foster who is featured in Dragons and Heroines, History, Reign of Queens, and Organic Ink: Vol 2.


1. How long have you been writing?

I remember writing stories in middle and high school that were true nonsense. Fifty pages on Microsoft Word, single spaced, no indentations. Amazing stuff, surely. But I published my first book in 2018 and another forty some stories since.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

I don’t get ‘blocked’ nearly as much as I just casually avoid writing by doing other things (like this interview.) But when I feel really stuck about a particular story I will just open another tab, among the hundreds, and start writing something else. Or I’ll read something. Just try to change the way my brain is thinking. Then I come back to it with fresh ideas and hope for something intelligible.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

The idea of a plot, to me, has always started with a character or two. Who is this antagonist and what do they want? But the characters develop along the way, then I have to go back and fix them in the beginnings of these stories when they still don’t know who they are yet. So I think the character instigates the plot, but the plot changes and truly creates the character. Chicken, egg, etc.

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

It depends on the day. Sometimes I write for four hours the second I wake up, others I write into the middle of the night because I had an idea.

5. How do you do research for your books?

All hail our overlord, the Google machine.

6. When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc.) scene, how do you get in the mood?

Music is always the answer.

7. How do you handle literary criticism?

I used to be extremely uncomfortable with it because I was also shy about having my writing out there, but it’s out there now, and I have succeeded enough times to know that someone must like what I’m writing, so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and hope to get better.

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

One book, one epic poem. Favorite is such a final word. I’m obviously partial to my first novel, Pawns of the Shadow, because it was something I worked on for years, on and off, and was so proud to finally finish. But I always saw myself as something of a bard, and the idea of ‘singing’ a song by writing an epic poem was something I always assumed would be impossible. Final word – The Lay of Thorriman is my favorite of the two, but only of my two novel pieces.

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

I hang out with my wife watching true crime and bad tv shows. I relax with my puppies when I’m not watching them play in the backyard. I rot my brain with YouTube. I play (too many) video games. I read (never too many) books.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Visit me on Amazon and Facebook.