NaNoWriMo 2020 – Flashback to 2019

We’re a little bit over the halfway point and personally the exhaustion is starting to amp up. I expected having this blog post written and ready to publish a couple of days ago but by the end of the daily quotas I’m finding the past few days that I don’t have much energy left.


I’m taking note of this as a learning experience. I’ve realized that in my regimen of inspirational intake I’ve made the mistake of making everything ‘work.’ Even the time that I spend gaming, normally to chill, I’m doing as Let’s Plays for posting on YouTube. In other words, I’m spending a lot of creativity but not intentionally taking the time to just get filled. When there isn’t a natural flow of intake and output, and all you do is output, the logical result is that you’ll feel drained. It’s actually a life lesson that I learned long ago and just forgot about, in my excitement to do another writing project, but hopefully I’ll learn from this experience and plan better in the future. Maybe actually journaling the experience here will help me remember.


This time also takes me back to mid-November of last year, when I came down with a dental infection – a challenge I had not anticipated. I’d had tooth aches before, but there was something different about this particular affliction. I wasn’t always in pain, but it came unexpectedly, and in waves, and sometimes stayed until I finally gave in and took an Advil. But eventually that also stopped helping.

I had a number of theories about what the pain was, and repeatedly assumed that it would go away. I was after all under a lot of stress, and assumed that I was simply clenching my teeth too hard and that all I needed to do was relax. For the most part it didn’t interfere with my work, though at times something about sitting at certain angles made it difficult to type on the computer for more than a few seconds at a time, meaning a lot of stopping and starting while I caught my breath.

The concern came when it got to the point that eating almost anything caused an unreasonable amount of pain. I’m not sure how most people rate pain on a scale from 1 to 10. For me, 1 would be a minor discomfort and 10 is the point at which the pain actually prevents me from being able to function, in which case I would have some hard 9s at random times throughout the day, and a few scary 10s. I remember when the infection made its way to my jaw joint and it became painful to eat. I made myself popcorn one day because I figured it required the smallest bites and was the softest thing to chew through – so there should be no resistance. It took me forever to eat just half of that bowl before putting it aside because the pain from every bite was so strong that I had to actively convince myself that eating to avoid starvation was worth the pain.

At that point I knew I needed a doctor to look at it and tell me definitively what the problem was and, hopefully, how to fix it. I managed to see someone at the clinic who revealed it to be a dental infection and prescribed a combination of antibiotics and probiotics, which took a bit over a week to get through, taking me through the rest of NaNoWriMo. It took another few days for the infection to recede though. By that point it had spread to my incisors and even the feeling of air passing through my nose or mouth caused intense pain. It hurt just to breath. Fortunately that was as bad as it got, and it only lasted for a day. I don’t recall if I continued working on that day or took a sick day, but I certainly would not have pushed myself too hard that day.


I remember going over the scenarios in my head, in case I did reach a point where I absolutely had to stop NaNoWriMo and how I would try to honour the challenge under altered circumstances. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of taking a chunk of days from November and adding them at the end, extending into December, because even if I wasn’t working as far as actually typing words I could still be thinking about what to write during those days off, and that’s sometimes half the work. It didn’t feel in keeping with the spirit of the challenge I had given myself. Fortunately I didn’t have to figure something out because I was back in decent shape before long, but the situation forced me to come up with contingency plans in case of similar scenarios in the future.

The way I figure it, it is best to take whatever unexpected challenges come my way and work around them or through them, but if anything was ever so bad that it legitimately prevented me from even being able to type words then odds are I’m also struggling to think about what to write ahead of time, so that would probably balance out for me to simply move some days around.


As hard as it was to go through at the time, the accomplishment has become a fond memory, and something that makes me prouder of ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ as a completed project. It makes me feel a little bad-ass to say that not only did I write and edit a whole novel in a month but that I did half of it while fighting a debilitating infection.

On the flip side, it makes me feel like a bit of a wuss right now since all I’m currently struggling with is exhaustion. It obviously could be worse.

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NaNoWriMo 2020 – Completing Act I

Just over a third of the way through. Y’all keeping up?


So far my pace has been up and down with this project. A bout of insomnia one day left me out of commission and losing about a day’s worth of work hours, which I had to catch up on by doing an extra 1,000 words for the last 2 work days, on top of the 2,000 I’m already trying to do each day. I did 3,045 words this past day, which is the most so far for this project. I finally hit the 20,000 mark yesterday!

I definitely lose track of time when writing action scenes, which is why I’m not too worried about having some extra material to write toward the end, cuz I may get through that quickly as the excitement amps up.


I also just did the introduction of one of the main characters, and I’m pretty happy about how it went. I may feel differently when I get around to editing, but I’ll bask in the enthusiasm for the time being.

Unlike Vampires Vs. Dragons, in which I had a protagonist who was a part of both worlds and wrote competing antagonists on both sides, I’m flipping it around in Orcs Vs. Wolves by writing a rival protagonist for each side, and then a single antagonist who is a problem for both. I don’t remember why I initially decided to take this different approach this time around, but it led to the development of two protagonist characters that I can’t imagine the story without now.


One unusual thing though is how long it takes for both to get properly introduced. The opening scene takes a bit of time, but serves mainly as a prologue, featuring neither of the protagonists, but they get introduced in detail in different parts of what I think is going to be Chapter 1.


One thing I feel like I’m overwhelming myself with is the sheer number of characters, many of which only have minor roles but are still developed in detail. This project started with a desire to write about goblins in a post-apocalyptic setting. I thought it would be fun and offer a new context of creativity for me. It seems I may have been on to something.


How far have you guys gotten in your stories? Are you following the classic three-act story arc, or shaking it up a bit? Let me know in the comments!

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NaNoWriMo 2020 – The Challenges So Far

We’re almost one week into November. How is everyone doing with their NaNo projects?


I’ve been caught off guard by the amount of unexpected challenges this time around. It’s been a bit more than just general life stuff, which is to be an expected part of the challenge. There’s also been some issues come up that make it difficult to sit at the computer sometimes, and this 4-day-long Election Day in the U.S. has been a big moment in history, worth keeping updated on throughout the day, sometimes making it difficult to concentrate on other worlds!

I’ve also had irregular sleep hours this past week (which is not too unusual for me, but does effect scheduling). I’ve been behind in my daily quotas for a few days, and stressing about catching up, but I’m relieved to be able to say that I’ve finally caught up with my own schedule and reached 10,027 words today!


So far my approach has been mainly to write out specific scenes that I’ve got fairly solid in my mind, at least to make up the daily quotas, and then going back to the chronological order whenever I feel like I’ve got an idea of what to write for the next scene. Under the time restraint, there’s certainly been more “pantsing” than I would normally do, but it has pressed me to spit out pure imagination more frequently, which I believe is a big point of the whole exercise.

It helps that a big part of what I’m writing is goblin characters and goblin culture, and that they tend to be bizarrely creative with how they operate. Ideas that come to mind that most sane people would never do (and I like to think that most of my characters as sane) are perfect fodder for armies of orcs. So this story is actually a context in which a lot of these crazy ideas would believably make sense.


I’m also glad to be able to say that I’ve finally finished my opening scene XD. But the fact that I struggled with it so much has got me curious. I wonder if it’s more difficult to write action sequences before establishing the world in which they takes place. Action is certainly how I felt this story should begin, it’s one of the concepts that I’ve had in my mind the longest, but perhaps it would have been easier on myself to spend just a bit of time establishing the environment before throwing the reader (and  myself) into the action. I certainly think it’s better to catch two birds with one stone (catch because I’m nice) if you can write action in such a way as to establish some things about that world while you do it. I wonder if other writers find it a challenge too.

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NaNoWriMo 2020 – First 2 Days!

Hey everyone! How’s your NaNo project doing so far?


I know it’s only Day 3 now, but that’s plenty of time to get a sense of how well you have or have not prepared. I’m finding myself struggling a bit with this project compared to last year’s, despite taking a similar approach.


For religious reasons I’ve made sure to designate myself a day of rest each week (usually Sunday but it changes depending on the week), which means that instead of doing the standard 1,667 words a day I’m having to do an average of 1,924 words a day to make up the difference. But that math is hard to remember, so I just round it out to 2,000 words a day.

In fact, in this particular November there are actually 5 Sundays instead of 4, which means 25 work days if I end up only taking Sundays off, and after I did the math I realized I could do exactly 2,000 words a day for the 25 work days in November and end up with exactly the required 50,000 words by November 30!

Of course, it’s not likely to be that simple. Vampires Vs. Dragons ended up being roughly 56,000 words in total by the time I finished the rough draft. In other words, by the time I reached 50,000 words, I hadn’t finished the story yet! It was a good thing I managed to get ahead of schedule with that project, because I also had self-editing to do on top of that before the month finished. Even on the final day and up to the last hour I was adding bits of stuff. I remember it took me until the final day of NaNo to come to a decision about what the final scene should be.


I had come at it with the expectation that I would get to the end of the story, have some time and words left, and have to invent some filler scenes, which I was prepared to do, but as is often the case with my stories they end up being longer than expected as new material comes to mind. I have to be prepared for that with this project as well, and get ahead of schedule as soon as I can so I’ve got some margin.


As you all know, this year NaNoWriMo actually began on a Sunday, which could have been a challenge for me to ‘hit the ground running’ as I like to. But I count my days off from waking up to falling asleep, and I’m a late sleeper, so I actually managed to get some writing done on the first day (my Saturday night) and update my progress before going to bed.


I managed 2,240 words on the first day, and not even a full day of work! That was an encouraging start. I cheated a little bit in that I only did a small part of my opening scene and then really wanted to write out a scene that I’d had solid in my head for almost a year, so that was a little easier to get written down. I did want to take the approach of writing everything in chronological order, but then felt I’d rather make sure certain things got written down before I forgot them.

It was a minor detail, but I remembered something I had meant to include in Vampires Vs. Dragons that I forgot about once I actually got to that point in the story. Nothing heartbreaking to lose, but the experience has left me more cautious with future NaNo projects.


As I write this I’m about halfway through my second day of work, and first full day, and I’m at 2,959 words after writing a bit more of the opening and a piece of dialogue I love so much that I’ve been quoting it to myself over and over trying to make sure I remember it. It’s good to finally have it written down!

I’ve got another 1,041 words to do before meeting my personal quota for today, so I better get back to it. And maybe actually at some point complete the opening – that might be good!

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NaNoWriMo 2020 – This Year’s Project

Hey guys! How is your NaNo prep coming along?


Now that November is almost upon us, I’m finally ready to talk more openly about what project I’ll be working on this year. I enjoyed writing ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ so much that I’ve decided I’m gonna do something in a similar vein. Not a direct sequel, but the post-apocalyptic landscape of ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ provided the best context for this new project, so I’ve decided to turn this into a post-apocalyptic shared universe with a variety of conflicts going on in different parts of the globe, and I’ve decided which conflict I’m going to focus on this year.


Orcs Vs. Wolves!


(Technically it’s orcs vs. werewolves, but that somehow didn’t have the same ring to it.) With this project I’ll be starting a theme of ‘something fantasy vs. something horror’ which, if I keep this going each year, would work out quite perfectly with timing since I tend to do most of my inspiration hunting during October, when all the scary movies are on. (Genius move, eh?)


It’s a decision that I was kinda leaning towards early on, since the idea of doing something post-apocalyptic with a heavy emphasis on goblins was something I’d had my heart set on ever since the first time I watched Mad Max: Fury Road. I know there are no goblins in that movie, but many of the villains, the way that they lived, and the way they improvised new tools out of the ruins of mankind gave me a hard goblin vibe, and really inspired me for this kind of a story.


And since ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ ended up being set in a post-apocalyptic environment, I realized I had given myself the perfect segway. I just needed the perfect opposing side for them to terrorize and/or be terrorized by depending on varying circumstances. Enter the werewolves!


To my surprise, it’s been much more difficult to find inspirational material for werewolves. I’ve noticed that most werewolf movies don’t really get into the psychological impact of a person beginning to think and act like a wolf – the werewolf tends to be treated as more of a generic monster transformation. So I’m gonna have to keep looking to find the kind of inspiration I’m hoping for when it comes to the werewolf side of the story. The orc side I’ve pretty much had covered for a while.


I’m even doing a Let’s Play of ‘Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ as a way of gathering further inspiration. I’m even talking about the world from a fantasy writer’s perspective as I play, and you can check it out on my YouTube channel!


My prep work is just about done. I’ve finally got my ‘Orcs Vs. Wolves’ Pinterest board published. I may add to that as I return for inspiration throughout the month, and when the book is published I’ll start categorizing the pins by character names as I did for my ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ Pinterest board.


How is your prep going? Are you excited, nervous, or all over the place? Let me know how it’s going in the comments!

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The Journey of ‘CHRONOMANCER’

The seeds of the story that eventually became ‘The Final Power: CHRONOMANCER’ were first planted back in 2002, so it’s been nearly 2 decades in the making. I know the timeline because I remember how I was influenced by the first Lord of the Rings film, before the additional influence of reading the trilogy and seeing The Two Towers in theatres, which was late 2002 or possibly early 2003.

The main cast of characters and basic plot of the story have remained mostly unchanged since it was originally conceived. But with other projects taking the forefront of my attention, this one was put aside for a long time.

Roughly 5 years ago I began a personal project of taking all of the fantasy material that I knew of from different fantasy worlds like Middle-Earth, Tamriel and Azeroth to name a few, and fit them all into a single fan-fiction kind of world that I called “Grand Unified Fantasy” – I think just because I had been watching a lot of science documentaries at the time and kept hearing about Einstein’s “Grand Unified Theory” (not at all related.)

This project was begun for one reason, to create for myself singular versions of different kinds of races and groups like elves, orcs, vampires, and the like – creatures that typically have wildly varying rules depending on what story you’re telling. I had seen and heard so many different versions of vampires, and the rules about how they work, that I felt I had to keep making up my own from scratch whenever I wanted to tell a story with them. By establishing my own world with its own rules and myths, I could use that world as a template to build other fantasy stories off of, and then only make any changes that are crucial to the individual story.


As this fan-fic world developed, became more solid, and started getting more and more populated by races and characters of my own invention, I realized that I had put too much work into this world to use it for templates alone. It deserved its own story. So I began the process of either removing or greatly altering elements that were not public domain (a lengthy process of research) until I knew that everything in the world was either my own creation or publicly available. Then I began looking for a specific story to tell through this world.


This world is what eventually became Vel Ardon. And the story I found to tell through it is the same one that had been inspired all those years ago, which fit perfectly into the fantasy world I had formed.


But that was not the end of the process. Early 2016 is when I began writing the story in earnest, and I had a rough draft completed by the end of the year. 2017 was a sabbath year for me, which meant no editing or revising, and I knew I had to not even look at the manuscript until the year was done or else I would be tempted to make changes. So at the beginning of 2018, after an entire year of not even looking at the manuscript, I began revising and self-editing the rough draft until I felt it was ready to send to beta readers and a professional editor, followed by further revisions and self-editing until I finally felt it was ready to publish.

But that alone took an extra two and a half years (with other projects beside) – so much longer than originally anticipated. Not only because it was a longer novel than any I had published before, but also because I was not just telling one story – I was establishing an entire new world. One that I still also intended to be usable as a template for myself to use as a starting point for other fantasy tales. I was editing and revising an entire world with its own cultures, races, and histories.


I’m glad to finally be able to share this world with my readers, and thanks to the talents of artist Kirstie Shanks, I’ve got a professionally designed map to show everyone as well (colour version at top of the page)


I’ve also just un-secreted my CHRONOMANCER board on Pinterest for those who like to have visual aid when readings stories, or who are just interested in seeing kind of images I was using for inspiration as I wrote.


It has been a long journey to get to this point. Thank you for your support along the way!

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New Book Release ‘The Final Power: CHRONOMANCER’

When the high elven princess Zera is taken by an ancient darkness, the kingdom must call for desperate allies to launch her rescue. Three mercenaries: the barbarian Baruda, the warrior monk Erid, and the fellborn goblin Gnash find help in an unlikely companion to help them reach the princess. As they embark into the unknown, their adventure will take them to the darkest places in Vel Ardon, and even throughout time, as they seek the safe return of the lost princess.


It’s good to finally be able to share this with the world. ‘The Final Power: CHRONOMANCER’ is my first published epic-scale fantasy novel written for fans of high-adventure. Compared to my previous novels, the amount of world-building that went into this book was on a completely different level (which I’ll talk about in greater detail in a future post).


As you may have guessed from the title, this particular story involves the manipulation of time. The way I incorporated this into the story was quite different from most time-travel tales, and I hope that helps to set it apart. It also provided context for the invention of some unusual and fantastical environments which, to my surprise and delight, became one of the highlights of my experience writing and editing this story.


Another surprise was how attached I personally became to the characters. I’ve had readers tell me that my characters are likable and life-like, and that they miss them when the story ends. It’s one of the most encouraging pieces of feedback that I’ve gotten in my time writing, but this novel was the first time that I myself started getting emotional as I neared the end of the writing process – like I didn’t want it to end. These characters have grown on me too.


I hope you’ll pick it up, and I hope you enjoy it!

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NaNoWriMo Prep 2020

Hey guys! Who’s doing NaNoWriMo this year? Are you all done with your prep work? If not, there’s still a week to go before November kicks off. Still time to cram in some prep. I myself have had a few projects on the go the past couple of months and now have to cram some of my prepping into the last minute, but I think I’m in a good position to get started on November 1st.

This’ll be my second time doing NaNo. When I did it last year I had no idea how it was going to go, but in the spirit of challenge I gave myself some added restrictions. One month – start from scratch – full-length novel of at least 50,000 words – only self-editing and revision within the same month – publish as-is, warts and all.

It wasn’t a challenge I was about to take on with just any project – I needed something equally crazy and fun where I felt I could just go for it and enjoy the ride. That’s why I settled on ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ – a story idea I’d had in mind for a while but that I knew would be a bit of a departure and experiment compared to my other works, so I knew I needed to approach it differently. NaNoWriMo felt like the best context for that project.

By that time, I had spent so long editing and revising other projects that it had been over two years since I’d written an original manuscript, and I was worried my head would not be in the game. NaNoWriMo revived my passion for creative writing, got my juices flowing, and gave me a context to just express freely. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to come back this year for another project!

I’ve completed most of my prep work, I think. I’ve got a skeleton plot, details for major characters, ideas of how the world works, and I’ve even put together a musical playlist. Stuff I still have to finish off are a Pinterest board, some starting details for the first scene so I can hit the ground running, and a schedule as to when would be the best time of day for me to write.

What about you? Are you doing NaNo this year? How’s your prep going? Have you ever done NaNo before? Let me know in the comments!


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Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 5)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t. Most of these pictures however are just interpretations of others’ characters. Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)

Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Gambit from X-Men. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.




Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Venom from Spider-Man. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.




General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


General Sweet Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


General Sweet Mayhem from ‘The LEGO Movie 2’


Mr. L. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Mr. L. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Mr. L


Phantom Ganon from Zelda. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Phantom Ganon from ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’


Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Ariel from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Ariel from ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’


Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Monica from Vampires Vs. Dragons. Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Monica from ‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’


Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Akame from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Akame from ‘Akame ga Kill!’


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from Akame ga Kill! Made using Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6.


Esdeath from ‘Akame ga Kill!’


(part 1)

(part 2)

(part 3)

(part 4)


(part 7)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters


See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

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Top 10 Mid-Series Shake-Ups: part 2

Today I’m finishing off the list of Top 10 Mid-Series Shake-Ups by going over numbers 6-10, because that’s how math works. Again, I’ve put them in order of most frequently used (by my reckoning), which is not the same thing as best or most recommended. If you missed the first 5 you can check them out in my previous blog post. Happy writing!


  1. A hero turns villain.

Nothing causes a shake-up quite like a character becoming (or turning out to have always been) a villain. Especially when it is a beloved character. It is also one of the most difficult twists to do right. Audiences invest a lot of emotion into well-written characters, and sudden changes or reveals of such a drastic degree can throw a lot of that investment out the window.

One of the most infamous failed attempts at this was when the Marvel comics revealed that Captain America had been a Hydra agent all along. Not only was this way outside of his known, established character, and not only did it go directly against everything he represented, but it was also inconsistent with known facts about the character’s behaviour prior to that point, making it clear that this was a recent decision by the writers and not something they’d had planned from the beginning. Since pulling off this kind of twist hinges on consistency, I’m going to provide the link to my blog post where I discuss Consistency in greater detail.

Put simply, your character’s reasons for turning (or having been secretly a villain all along) must line up with known aspects of their character in order for it to make sense to your audience. There are plenty of ways to make “the wrong side” feel like a legitimate choice for characters, especially if they have tragic stories where they are more likely to make desperate choices. If you want the character to remain at least somewhat sympathetic, then you will have to present their reasons as being justified, at least in their own mind.

If the character has been a villain for a while, then you will need to be careful with scenes that show their inner character, so as not to either give anything away too early, nor have them clearly thinking and feeling a certain way that contradicts the coming revelation. This is easy enough done if you avoid using their POV, which, in writing, means never narrating a scene from their perspective but always someone else’s, and on film it means you avoid or severely limit scenes that show them on their own. If they are being secretive about whose side they’re really on, then of course they will act like one of the good guys while they’re being watched, but when they are on their own they have little reason to put on a show, and of course if the narrative is from their perspective then the audience should know what they are thinking.

This kind of twist offers a lot of opportunity to show how other characters react and adapt, not only to the shock but also to the changing dynamics. Do old friends now have to fight each other? If it is a beloved character then you may want to have them switch sides again, and rejoin the forces of good. Wisdom will be necessary to decide when the time for that is right. Do it too soon and it will feel half-assed and half-hearted – not really having any meaning. But wait too long, have them go too deep into the dark side, and they may no longer be a beloved character. If you do plan on bringing your character back into the fold then give your audience time to deal with the initial shock, get used to the new normal, and build anticipation to see the character’s return.


  1. Change of leadership.

This can be one of the more uncomfortable changes to go through, both for your characters and for your audience. Leaders tend to be among the more popular characters – not the team captains like Cyclops or Leonardo, but the coaches like Professor X and Splinter. The relationship between leaders and their team tend to parallel the relationship between parent and child. Both your characters and your audience come to think of them as father/mother figures, and so, losing them tends to feel like losing a parent. And having them immediately replaced by another feels like suddenly having to deal with a new step dad before even having the chance to mourn.

Even less popular leaders (or worse, the leaders of the bad guys) are a big part of the overall feel of a series. When leadership changes, the characters suddenly have new dynamics to navigate, new expectations, new challenges. It can be an interesting way of forcing your characters into situations beyond their comfort zones, or just to see how they handle different kinds of pressure.

The leader does not always have to die to be replaced. Sometimes they can just be fired by somebody higher up, or step down if they feel they’ve made an unforgivable error. They can even be rehired later on if you only want the change to last for a season.

If the character coming into leadership is someone who has already been around for a while then the change can be less scary (or more, depending on the character). And if they were already second-in-command then the transition can feel much more natural. Changes will still occur in how the characters interact with each other under the new power dynamics. Coming into power tends to change people, bring issues to the surface that they didn’t realize they had, often having to do with their own experiences with authority figures. So keep that in mind when deciding how to approach character development, and whether they will succumb to their issues or rise above them to become stronger.


  1. Coming out.

Depending on your audience, this will either cause a drop in ratings or an increase, so it is always a calculated risk, but it is one of the more popular twists in modern storytelling since the LGBTQ community is still struggling to find a significant catalogue of characters they can personally relate to (since the community is itself so diverse).

Whichever character you do this with would by fact of the matter have to become more vulnerable and open with their comrades once they choose to reveal this information. Sexuality is very deeply tied to a person’s sense of identity, so for secretive characters to come out will force them into a very uncomfortable place, if this character is normally very open about things then you will have to come up with a (believable) reason why they have tried to keep it under wraps.

Before going down this road, see my post about Consistency, as it may help you avoid some of the credibility issues that some writers face when having their characters come out. I actually don’t recommend ‘coming out’ twists unless it’s something that the writer has had planned from the very beginning. Making this kind of change to a character part way through a series tends to come across as ingenuine. It is always better if this is something that you as the writer already knew about the character well in advance rather than something done just for ratings, since changing a character’s personality and then pretending that it’s not a change causes a loss of credibility as a writer, followed by a drop in audience faith.

Also, since inclusivity is the issue, I recommend researching which groups are not being represented as much in the media. Gay and bisexual orientations are the most common for characters coming out because they are the easiest changes to apply to a character without having to change too many other things, but if this is something the writer has been planning for some time then it shouldn’t actually be a ‘change.’ I don’t hear about a lot of hermaphrodite characters, but that’s clearly a born condition and something challenging to live with, so more characters with that condition would greatly help the diversity of characters in the media.


  1. Kids.

So your characters who have had engaging sexual tension for ages have finally hooked up/tied the knot/become official and now all of the fans who were bugging you to put the two of them together will finally shut up about it, right? WRONG! Because now those characters need to have kids – which you can also drag out for ages if you are so inclined.

Children are one of the clearest signs (and enforcements) of character development. They show that certain characters have matured and (if not) they force those characters to learn responsibility pretty quickly. They also tend to symbolize hope, since characters who don’t see much of a future for themselves may not bother to have kids (if it’s a matter of discussion). In a series, it also gives the audience something else to look forward to. Babies on long-running series literally grow up before the audience’s eyes (or at least the character does, even if the actors are repeatedly replaced). And child characters, by nature, have more character development over a shorter period of time than most mature characters who are already more set in their ways.

Depending on the medium of your story, you may have full control over when characters have children or, if working with live actors, you may find all the sudden that you have to improvise with the story you had in mind. Although there are always other ways of hiding a preggie belly, like just having the character disappear or sustain an injury and have to take time off work for a while, keep your audience in mind and consider if actually having the character pregnant at the same time can work for the story. You may be pleasantly surprised by audience feedback.


  1. Time jump.

I don’t mean this as a science fiction thing – unless you’re writing science fiction in which case maybe you can get away with it. Sometimes the storyline of a series reaches a certain plateau – all conflicts have been resolved, all threads have been tied, and all the characters are in a place you don’t really want to move them from, at least for a while. If you’ve got all that going for you then it may be time to just end the series. But if you’re not British, or you simply love writing too much, then ending the series just because you’re on a high note may be the farthest thing from your mind. In that case the right move for you may be to jump the story ahead a few years, months, or decades depending on the scope of the overarching story.

As a series shake-up, this has many benefits. It allows you to make quick character changes that would normally take several episodes or even seasons to develop believably. Most notably it allows you to ‘age-up’ any children in the series and see what they’re like as older children or even adults. It even allows you to introduce new babies, perhaps even from romances that were nowhere near happening in the previous episodes. Characters who were injured or incarcerated could be ready to get back to action after so much time has passed, and characters who have been training in one form or another could have mastered new skills by now.

If you had any characters ending the previous era in a positive state, like finding new relationships or enjoying retirement for example, a time jump also allows those characters to actually have the time to enjoy those things (from their perspective) before the new sets of challenges arrive. And fans who care about these characters and want to see them happy will appreciate that, even if it doesn’t last forever.

Make sure your time span is consistent along all characters though. Characters who were already on the older side of adulthood may not be as nimble as before. A major time jump is always a balancing act for finding the right time to do it. You may want to introduce or raise up a bunch of new characters but you may also lose some long-time favourites in the process. So consider it carefully.

As one of the bigger shake-ups that you can do, there is equally major risks and major rewards. That much change can make the audience excited to see what’s new, but they may also feel lost if too many of their favourite things are gone. Be sure to give them some anchors. I recommend taking at least one fan-favourite character and putting them in a position of wizened teacher (as long as it’s not completely against their personality). Seeing that character become something of a mother/father figure among the cast might help further the sense of home and make the audience feel more comfortable in the new era.


And that’s the list! Have any other ideas for mid-series shake-ups that I didn’t cover in this list? Let me know in the comments! Catch the top five on this list if you missed the previous post. And if you’d like more insights on writing in general you can check out my blog posts on writing starting with the Core Concept, or check out The Storyteller’s Handbook on Amazon.




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