What If… Someone Made a Smash Clone for Fantasy Fiction?

Disclaimer: Let me say right out the gate that this entire post is me being a huge nerd. That’s all it is–no insights about writing or documentation about my current work in progress. All it is: me mashing up two things I love in a way I’m not sure overlaps for a lot of people. So if you’re not a gamer and a reader of Fantasy, this post might not be for you.

For everyone else: holy shit!

You guys . . . what if there was a Smash Bros. clone for Fantasy fiction characters?

I need to back up; let me explain.

Two weeks ago, Sora was announced as the final DLC fighter for Smash Bros. Ultimate.

And I have to be real here: I didn’t care that it was Sora.

Nothing against him or Kingdom Hearts; I just don’t have a close connection with those games. Worse, the trailer really made it look like the Chosen Undead or Ashen One from Dark Souls was going to be the last fighter, which blew my mind so hard for five seconds that anything else could only be a let down.

Like many a disappointed nerd that week, I turned my thoughts to who I would’ve preferred instead of Sora (the easiest fucking choice in the world being Urbosa from Breath of the Wild, who I will champion from now on as the next Zelda character we need). Alucard was a close second.

But naturally, my mind went, “How about Memory?”

Memory, if you’re new here, is the masked bureaucrat-ninja-assassin-protagonist of my current WIP. And I surprised myself when I imagined her in Smash because, “Holy shit. I found it; the only daydream more indulgent than imagining my novel becoming a million-dollar Summer blockbuster: imagining my character getting into Smash before Waluigi.”

“Or, like, Harry Potter. Or Frodo. Or any other classic Fantasy character that–“

I texted one of the guys is my writing group immediately.

We went back and forth about how much we’d love a Smash clone full of Fantasy characters.

At one point he said, “I want you to write a post about this.”

I seriously sent him back pictures of the draft I was already working on.

Everyone . . . please indulge me in what is undoubtedly one of my nerdiest posts ever: my roster for the Fantasy fiction Smash clone that I now want more than anything in the world.

The Core Eight

First thing first: let’s do this right.

If we’re doing this like Smash, then we need to have the eight, core characters. The ones who would be in the very first iteration of the game and all of its sequels, even if the rest of the cast fluctuates. The backbone of the franchise, without whom it wouldn’t exist. Everyone’s picks would be different, but here are mine:

  1. Frodo – I mean, come on. Not only does he feel like the #1 must-have, but I honestly think he’d control like Mario in Smash, with the same speed and size.
  2. Harry Potter – The titular boy wizard from the famous series written by Hatsune Miku. I’d probably never play as him despite loving those books, but he should be in the game regardless.
  3. Aslan – Having only read the last of the Chronicles of Narnia when I was eight (and didn’t know better), I was hard pressed to pick one character. In the end, Aslan felt like an appropriately-video-gamey choice because he’d be a literal fucking magic lion in the roster.
  4. Drizzt Do’Urden – I will be totally real here: The Legend of Drizzt is one of the ones that got away for me. It’s a hole in my Fantasy knowledge that I need to shore up. But the one thing I know about him: he feels like a great, classic Fantasy addition to the core eight. Like, how could we not have at least one of the common Fantasy races in here? I know he’s a Drow and not a traditional Elf, but wha-a-a-a-atever.
  5. Lyra & Pantalaimon – It is extremely hard picking out only eight core characters for the theoretical first game, but Lyra & Pantalaimon feel like such a good addition to the roster. They’d be the first game’s weird team-character with a complicated move set that would absolutely dominate at Evo.
  6. Shadow Moon – We just need a Neil Gaiman character here. I was going to pick the Sandman because I feel like he’s Gaiman’s most iconic character, but it felt wrong to dip into graphic novels.
  7. Kvothe – I know there are many more classic fantasy characters who could fit into this spot, but it just felt weird to not feature the protagonist of one of the most popular modern Fantasy series out there.
  8. Vin from Mistborn – Of the Core Eight, ladies and gentlemen, may I present . . . my main. I have seriously been waiting to see a movie and/or play a video game about Vin for nearly 20 years. If this game was real, she would be my very first pick, hands down. *Also, just a reminder that this is my list, and if I was producing the game, Vin would have to be up there.

The Sequel Additions
“These people seriously weren’t in the original!?”

If choosing the Core Eight taught me anything, it’s that the first game would definitely need to have more than eight characters.

But if we’re following the Smash model for fun, then these are the equivalent of that Melee-specific vibe of, “Wait–Bowser wasn’t in the original? What?”

  1. Conan – He is so culturally present that he’d probably be in the Core Eight if this game was real, but I’m imagining a world where lesser known characters are highlighted first. And also, I seriously just don’t have the emotional strength to keep rearranging that top eight.
  2. Geralt, the Witcher – I can’t help feeling like he wouldn’t be in the first game for licensing reasons. But I can dream that he’d eventually be there. A part of me wants him to be a totally new take on the character, but, realistically, he’d be the CD Projekt Red version, which means he’d also be a video game crossover character. Also, his last two color choices would be variants of his Netflix look.
  3. John Snow – I honestly just don’t think HBO would be like, “Yes, you can put a version of a character who was on our TV show in your indie game.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I think John would be one of the major “How the fuck was he not in the first one?” characters who would drum up excitement until HBO and George R. R. Martin gave in. His reveal trailer would be trending and he’d absolutely sic Ghost on his opponent with his Side Special.
  4. Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea- I have no idea how Ged would play, but that just makes me want him in it even more?
  5. Rand Al’Thor from The Wheel of Time – Everyone has their massive, Tolkien-esque, 80’s Fantasy series they read a ton of, and everyone would definitely put that series’ protagonist in this spot. For me, Rand is here because my 80’s Fantasy series was The Wheel of Time.
  6. Katniss Everdeen – Again, I introduce you to my motherfucking main. She’d have her bow on Neutral Special, freely aimed by holding down B, firing when released.

My Personal Must-Haves

Okay, look–I know the structure of this post is unravelling fast. And I apologize for that.

But . . . I mean . . . I fell into a rabbit-hole imagining the characters I would lose my mind for and you can’t blame me for that!

  1. Sabriel, the Abhorsen – Seriously, I got chills when I imagined playing as her in any video game. I realize I need to do a post about how much Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy influenced my writing.
    Neutral Special is “Necromancer’s Bells,” which changes all of her inputs to Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, and the rest of the bells. Different combinations have different effects, but also the speed that you ring them influences the strength of those effects (so you can ring them quickly for a few seconds of buffs/debuffs, or you can absolutely flex on someone by taking a full 10 seconds to ring the bells while an enemy’s recovering). The idea that she, a necromancer, would have more time to ring her bells when opponents are weaker (i.e. she’d be stronger when opponents are closer to death) is some of the tightest theming I’ve ever made up without realizing.
  2. Westley from The Princess Bride – If I wasn’t already down to buy this imaginary game, I literally just shouted, “WHAT!?” in my room when I saw him in my head-canon trailer. I would preorder it so fast to play as Westley.
    I imagine all of his Specials being parries that look the same but have wildly different effects (Up as a vault over the opponent’s head, Side to shove the opponent back, Neutral to deal extra damage, Down to trip them and set up combos?).
  3. Inigo Montoya – My other main. I can’t even right now. Why can’t this game be real!? He’d probably be an Echo Fighter of Westley, but I can’t help feeling like he would be insulted by that?
  4. Commander Vimes from Discworld – I imagine him being like Pokemon Trainer; you can swap between him and other members of the Watch on the fly, swapping through movesets.
  5. Arya Stark – It’s weird that I almost forgot to add her here, but that’s 100% because of season 8. It’s wild how that season made me forget that ages before the show was even announced, I thought Arya Stark was the fucking best. I would absolutely want her in with the stipulation that she’s novel Arya (which would never happen). Also, I was going to roll into a joke about how this theoretical game will come out before Winds, but then I got sad because that might actually be true.
    Down Special would let her change faces with her opponent, making her the absolute best for mind-games in hectic matches.
  6. The Strength and Patience of the Hill from The Raven Tower – I mean . . . how much more rad of a Fantasy character can you get than a fucking rock who’s also a god? This is another character I can’t imagine the moveset for but want to play as anyway so badly.
  7. The Malice – It was her or the Vagrant, and I just couldn’t help going with the Malice. To be totally fair and true to myself though . . . I wouldn’t go with either of them if it meant I could have the Hammer that Walks & the Goat as a playable character.
  8. The Hammer that Walks & the Goat – I just remembered this is my list.
  9. Wu Zetian from Iron Widow – It just came out (I just read it), so, first thing’s first: please skip to the next section, “The Rounded-Out Roster,” if you want to avoid spoilers for Iron Widow.
    With that out of the way, I’m imagining Zetian in her Vermillion Bird Spirit Armor for sure. Highly aerial and mobile, but never walking around because of her lotus feet.
    Her Final Smash has to be “Welcome to your nightmare.” It just has to be. It can be one of those Final Smash’s that you have to catch someone with at close range. And when you do, your opponent gets dropped into a Chrysalis pilot seat, Zetian behind them. They get the shit beaten out of them in her mind realm, and then the super ends with her dropping their body, standing over them, and shouting, “Welcome to your nightmare!”
    Just the ultimate flex.
    Also, for the record, I want Shimin and Yizhi both to be playable as well, but I desperately want to avoid spoilers here.

The Rounded-Out Roster

Okay. I’m just going to wrap up here with all of the characters I can think of. But also, I’m absolutely going to stop too soon because A) there are so many awesome characters in the Fantasy genre–this list will seriously never be done–and B) I’ve been maintaining critical levels of hype for too long, so I have to just let this one go.

Thus, in no particular order, under no particular heading, is everyone else I think would be / who I’d want to be in the game:

  • Bilbo (Echo Fighter of Frodo) – It was either Sam or Bilbo who would be an Echo Fighter. The clincher was the realization that, “Ah, of course Frodo and Bilbo would both have ‘Don the Ring’ on Down Special.”
  • Sam – I have no idea what his moveset would be, but I want him in it. Maybe if you’re playing on teams, Frodo will just collapse at 200% and Sam has to literally carry him for the rest of the match.
  • Gandalf – Without a doubt his final Smash would be him fighting his opponents like the Balrog. I mean how could it not be? Imagining it starting with “You shall not pass!” is enough to make my entire playstyle revolve around getting that Smash Ball.
  • Gollum – It was him or Sauron and I just feel like Sauron would be more of a stage hazard on the Mount Doom stage.
  • Aragorn – We have to just accept that this game is 75% sword fighters. It’s just worse than Smash in that regard . . . Unless, wait, is it? I’m not kidding–I’m looking at the roster and I think this game might somehow have fewer sword fighters than Ultimate?
  • Hermoine Granger – Her moveset would definitely be similar to Harry’s, but I feel like she’d have better spells–or maybe use the same spells in a totally different way because she’s a genius. Maybe all of the moves that are spells can be held to get her to perfectly pronounce Leviosa–for example–making it significantly stronger.
  • Ron Weasley (Echo Fighter of Harry Potter) – You need him for the trinity for sure.
  • Luna Lovegood / Your Favorite Potter Character(?) – It’s my list, so it’s absolutely Luna, but I think Potter characters could easily be the “Fire Emblem characters” of this franchise. Everyone’s waiting on playable Smaug, but Cedric Diggory gets announced and it’s like, “Fucking . . . really?”
  • Voldemort – For his Side Special, he can summon his pet snake, Nagini, who–as you and I know–has always been just a big snake and nothing else.
  • Brienne of Tarth – Not only would I put her in it, I’d make sure her kit as strong and technical as possible, so her skill ceiling would be through the absolute roof. Evo finals would probably be Brienne VS Lyra & Pantalaimon.
    Or, ya know, Pippin V. Pippin on Mount Doom over and over and over.
  • Daenerys Targaryen – Her Final Smash would be “Dracarys,” which would 1) activate an unskippable, four-minute cut-scene of the “Dracarys” moment 2) kill all of her opponents 3) log all other players out of the game, and 4) uninstall it from their console / PC so they have to download it again.
    I’m kidding. It wouldn’t do that. It would just melt their console / PC.
  • Lirael (Echofighter) – She’d have the pan-pipes instead . . . I just sighed. Seriously, I love The Abhorsen Trilogy, everybody.
  • Kelsier – Paradoxically, he’s already in Fortnite, although, I would not want to use his look from that game. No shade on whoever does the character designs for Fortnite, but he just looks like a frat guy in Kelsier cosplay?
  • Sazed – I can’t even imagine how to retrofit Feruchemy for Smash, and I feel like that’s . . . a good sign?
  • Auri – No idea how she’d play, but I just imagined finding her on a character select screen and went, “What!? Are you serious!? Auri’s in it!?” and I feel like that means she has to be.
  • Fezzik from The Princess Bride – I don’t even care what his moves would be–I would just taunt all day.
    “We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons. Skill against skill alone.”
    “I just want you to feel you’re doing well.”
  • Maggie Hoskie – It would just be rad to play as Maggie, who would be such an awesome, clean fit for this game. Her Final Smash would definitely be her letting in Honágháahnii.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – I really shouldn’t put them together since they’re so at odds in their novel. But also . . . it somehow feels right to have them be a Pokemon Trainer-style team? Like, the longer you play as one of them, the stronger the other one becomes when they get tagged in, as if they need to one-up each other?
  • Death, Captain Carrot, and a Bunch of Other Characters from Discworld – It’s been ages since I read a Discworld novel, and making this list made me realize I really need to get on that.
  • Harry Dresden, Percy Jackson, Julian of Macedonia, Quentin Coldwater, and the Countless Others I Missed

Phew. I have seriously been tweaking this post for two weeks, and I just have to let it go.

If you stuck around, thanks for nerding out with me. I don’t usually write totally self-indulgent stuff like this, but I just couldn’t expel the hype for this completely imaginary game any other way.

I find it funny now that the original inkling for this idea was “Memory in Smash,” but somehow, I can’t convince myself to add Memory to this list of amazing characters. Maybe it’s because, in the end, the real excitement is just celebrating this mass of characters I grew up with. The depressing thing is that we don’t live in a world where this game would ever exist.

But the awesome thing is that I realize I have a ton of Fantasy characters I haven’t experienced yet. And that thought has made me happier than anything has in a long time.

The Poppy War is seriously right in front of me; like, abstractly, it’s next on my TBR list, yeah, but it’s also literally 10 feet away from me, on a table. I can see it from where I’m sitting.

The idea that I can post this, go make some tea, and then start reading it is an absolute treasure that feels somehow out of place in the existential nightmare that the world has become.

The plan was to work on my resume and do some other tasks.

But . . . Yeah, I’m putting a pot on. The resume can wait.

I want to get lost in another world again.


That’s it for me. If you enjoyed this post, I post here every Sunday / Monday morning. I write anything from posts about my writing process and status reports on my WIP to detailed movie critiques and random musings about the writing in general. You can find links to my most popular series on the red bar on the left side of the screen on PC or the top-right drop-down menu on mobile.

That’s also where you can find my Follow button if you want giant walls of text like this one emailed to you whenever I post. Likes are also always appreciated so I can tell how many people like what content going forward.

Until next time, take care and stay hydrated, and always remember that the Golem effect is real! Bye!

Let’s  Talk About – Loki & The Potential Birth of the “Megapremise”

Loki came out this week.

And, as a man who fully expected to hate that show, I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode.

Will I enjoy all six episodes? Who knows. Can I emphatically say that its theme song is one of the best OST themes I’ve heard in a long, long time? Yes. Natalie Holt is my new hero.

But this isn’t a post about Natalie Holt. It’s a post about what I think Loki and shows like it might bring to the fiction table.

And, again, to clarify, that’s a might; I am not Publishers Weekly, nor am I an agent keen on trends.

All I want to do here today, with you, is wonder . . . if Loki is the beginning of what I’m labeling “the megapremise.”

What Is the Megapremise?

The best way to explain is to start with Loki.

Loki is a TV show about the Norse god, Loki. A version of him who invaded modern-day Earth, was defeated by superheroes, and stole back a magical cube that teleported him backward in time. Because of this, he’s arrested by a bunch of time police who proceed to show him his life, (light spoilers) including his own death. (/light spoilers)

(not so light spoilers) As a result, he decides to join the time police to help capture . . . another, presumably evil version of himself. (/not so light spoilers)

With or without spoilers, that premise is just wild.

And so is the premise that (seriously, get this) a super-powered witch, whose husband—an android—died, is inexplicably living in a sitcom where her android husband is alive again.

These premises are ridiculous—in the best way. They are, in my opinion, when Marvel is at their best these days.

And they’re also what I think of as megapremises; story ideas that are so weirdly specific and bizarre that there is nothing else like them. Premises so strange and unique to certain characters that it isn’t even possible to duplicate them (i.e. Loki would not be the same show without Marvel’s Loki, and—even worse—WandaVision would not be the same show without MCU Wanda and Vision).

And these megapremises . . . might be the future?

Because They Aren’t An Inherently Marvel Thing

It seems like they are (especially with how I defined them).

It seems like you just couldn’t write a story like Loki without ten years of build-up.

But I don’t think that’s actually true.

Creating a megapremise is easy for Marvel because they have well established characters with that decade of continuity. Every new story builds on that, so something like Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t just a movie about a space-faring team of misfits—it’s a movie about a space-faring team of misfits that ties into the special rocks a big purple man is after so he can kill half of the universe.

But—and if I’m saying anything with this post, it’s this—you can just create a megapremise. With totally new characters you made up, put into as bizarre and specific of a situation as you can possibly imagine. Everything can be explained in-story, and none of it actually requires the excess foundation new Marvel movies have (i.e. if you write a story about literal aliens pretending to be human in a small town, learning comparatively intense human emotions while slowly getting enveloped in the town’s mania [because I’ve decided they unwittingly landed in a cult town and this is a horror story now], you don’t need it to take place in the same continuity with any of your other stories).

What I’m saying here is, seriously, we can just write crazy shit like Loki.

And, I mean . . . am I weird, or is that the most exciting fucking thing ever?

You don’t have to write a normal procedural cop drama with a twist—that your partner is a demon or whatever. You can write a story about—I dunno—a law enforcement group that’s just been newly established at the center of the Earth, which humanity has only just discovered.

You don’t have to write a fantasy adventure about a group of adventurers on a quest to save the king. You can write about a—whoa-a-a-a-a-a I’m not sharing the idea I just thought of. It’s too cool. I’m actually writing that one.

Fuck—now I have to make up another example.

You can write a story about a group of aliens questing through a dangerous planet full of weird, thin, green trees and giant insects. A planet that is obviously Earth, where they search for their dying king, who fled here—I dunno.

Essentially, you can make your stories all-the-way weird and unique.

To reel myself in a bit here, yes, I am totally aware that some writers already do this. You, who’s reading this, possibly already live and breathe premises that would blow the minds of us normies.

But if you don’t . . . maybe try to make a weird, totally-out-there story just to see if it’s a good fit?

Because even if this isn’t going to become a real trend . . .

. . . it’s still incredibly fun to try to make up the weirdest, least standard premise you possibly can.

And, besides . . . I think I want the future where a new movie is like, “Meet Gary, a sentient planet who’s looking for love!” or whatever.

And, real talk, I am definitely writing that story idea I got in the middle of this post. Seriously, if anything, know that I am amazingly pumped for that, and maybe you will be too if you settle on a beyond-strange idea you really like.

And I hope you do. Because we all deserve to have at least one really bizarre idea that we’re working on for nobody but ourselves.


Okay. I am calling it here because it’s 4AM and I am about to pass out.

If you enjoyed this post, I try to get posts out every Sunday. Today, this post came out late because my weekend was weirdly busy. I will admit that part of it was a long D&D session, but you can’t be mad, because I played a Warforged Fighter who was a mix between Robocop and a Terminator. His name was Silver and I accidentally min-maxed the shit out of him, so he was an absolute monster that didn’t get scratched once. Anyway, if you liked this post, please drop a Like or consider giving my blog a follow.

Last update here: I am at the end of my outline for Memory, my current WIP. I finished my Tally Run and I’m outlining the finale now. I just wanted to stay honest about that on here. Which I will continue to do next week.

Until then, take care, and always remember that ice tea that you brew yourself, with tea bags, is infinitely better than powder mix ice teas. Seriously, there’s no contest; brew those bags, put them in water with a little sugar, pour them over ice—so good.

Stay hydrated—bye!

3 More (Not as Great but Still Weirdly Common) Fiction Sins

So it’s finally that time. Since my first post about Fiction Sins, I’ve wanted to dish on three more, but I didn’t want to force it and manufacture another set just to get pithy about them on here. So, instead of doing that, I’ve waited and watched and read and kept an eye opened for sins that were Sins and not just common writing mistakes.

And only just now, about six months later, have I finally encountered three… truly worthy screw ups.

Fair Warning: these aren’t as charming (at least not to me) and not as racy as, say, “Incredibly Awkward and Creepily Open Displays of Sexual Fantasies,” but these are grossly common Sins that the average writer is far more likely to implement without realizing it.

But enough with the soft disclaimers. Let’s get this party started.


4) The Glitter Pile

(Or the Pile of Enragingly Cryptic, Flatly Aesthetic Hook Concepts [with Matching Catch Phrases])

So, let’s say you’re watching a show. And let’s say that this show is based on a novel written by a really, really famous author. So, you go in and you’re expecting a lot—you’re expecting questions to be raised and for those questions to have clear, solid answers. You’re expecting master level intrigue when you sit down for the first episode and are satisfied when, immediately, several juicy mysteries are put into play.

Let’s say… maybe two big mysteries are dropped. Enough to make you excited for episode two because these mysteries even have catchy phrases that are associated with them, making them super charming (you can easily recite those phrases to fellow viewers—things like [I don’t know], “The last peanut will be salted!” [whatever]).

Anyway, episode two comes! And in it, no answers, but you didn’t really expect any so soon, so it’s cool!… Only… there’s not even… evidence at all about the solutions for the first two mysteries… and three more big mysteries are dropped… with accompanying catch phrases (“The cold enchilada… will warmed up!” [maybe I’m hungry]).

Anyway, if you’re anything like me, you’d immediately be suspicious at this point. You would expect what you’d find in the third episode—three new incredibly vague, riddle catch phrases and the very strong inkling that not a one of these mysteries or catch phrases will actually have any impact on the story (because they already didn’t).

In other words, at this point, three episodes in, you’d already be aware that the show was wasting your fucking time. Because its important mysteries wouldn’t be important mysteries—they’d just be sparkles. Just different colored handfuls of glitter thrown on top of one twist (maybe just “plot” is a better word actually) to disguise that twist as something it isn’t—incredibly complex. And now, I’m going neutral here because all of the gaudy, glitzy hooks tacked onto a plot don’t necessarily mean the plot is bad; it just means that the person writing that plot is trying really, really, tactlessly hard to catch the eyes of as many people as possible while doing as little work as possible to achieve that goal.

And doing that winds up hurting the plot because it allows it to be weak. Oh, wait—what’s that? Not enough glue? Better lay that plot down on a table—make sure it’s as flaaaat as possible so all that glitter doesn’t fall off; piling mysteries on top of mysteries means that characters never really get anywhere despite the author making them jump through deceptive hurdles. It cheapens the story and kills any real sense of suspense because the crazy mysteries that are supposed to be at the heart of the plot… don’t really mean anything. In the show I watched that did this, the interesting part wound up being the characters because they had divergent personalities that played off of each other in watchable, engaging ways. And that aspect of the show, I have to point out, existed completely outside of wondering what the hell “The cold enchilada will be warmed up!” meant.

Seriously, if you were to just pick up the plot… and blow off all of the glitter, you’d immediately have something far more genuine at the very least. I can’t believe I made it this far without raging (I’m proud of myself) but I will say this—there are two kinds of writers who will work this kind of plot; the kind who are major fans of a story that they didn’t realize followed this mold and are unwittingly mimicking it to try to create a genuinely engrossing plot, to whom I can only say, “You’re better than this; don’t do it; figure out another way; I believe in you.”

And then there’s the other kind of writers who work this kind of plot: literally professionals who are literally working you and don’t care at all about creating something genuine. They would never heed these words (obviously), but if you’re swaying even close to becoming this kind of writer, be careful, cause the next stop is Hack Town. Watch your step when you’re getting off the Integrity Bus.


5) The Event That Never, Ever Ends

This… is probably my favorite Fiction Sin ever.

To my oxymoronic-loving side, this is by far the most awesome bad thing that ever happens to any series because it’s such a clear indicator of creative bankruptcy that it’s hilarious. And sad if you like the series in question.

And that series would be Resident Evil, baby!

Now, I usually don’t tie specific stories or series to these Sins (because I don’t want to spoil things for the most part—which is especially true of the other two Sins in this post), but maaaaaan… Resident Evil is my one, perfect example of the Event That Never Ends. Seriously. I mean, you want to hear this Sin put into one name? Cause I can do that. Look:

Raccoon City.

There. I did it.

I’ve seen other stories commit this same Sin to lesser degrees, and, to provide a less obscure but still nerdy example of the Event That Never Ends, you need only visit your comic shop in the summer and peruse shelves lined with interminable summer cross over event after interminable summer cross over event. And, to be clear, yes, it is insane that Avengers VS X-Men was a year long… but the real problem here is that crossover events need to be tied to every… single hero. And, I know—it’s a crossover event—but the entire point is that a group of writers is trying really hard to milk a single event for absolutely all it’s worth from every angle they can come up with and that… is this Sin, perfectly explained.

And no single event has ever been run into the ground quite as hard as the Biohazard Outbreak in Raccoon City.

What really makes this example great to me though is that Raccoon City had an immediate writing expiration date; it was a major part of the formula that made Resident Evil 2 awesome… butRaccoon City was also completely destroyed at the end of Resident Evil 2. Usually, the integral parts of a series’ formula will be constant—like Mario’s jumping or the Master Sword (or, settings-wise, Gotham City or Hogwarts). They’re cornerstones—solid and exciting and reliable.

And never, ever a thing that gets very logically destroyed in continuity… only to have its ruins poked from every possible angle with whines of, “But… mooooney. Come ooooooon-uh!”

Capcom: “Make Resident Evil 3. Right now! Same exact formula! Zombies! Raccoon City! Guns! Zombi—”

Writer: “Sir… We… can’t? Raccoon City… was nuked.”

Capcom: “… You will write around this…

“… for the next…

“… 14…

“… YEARS.”

Seriously, I’m not even exaggerating; in 2012, Capcom put out the last in a string of at least seven games that all centered around the Biohazard Outbreak in Raccoon City (the very first of which was a direct sequel… that took place around the same time as RE2).  There are more Resident Evil games that take place during the Biohazard Outbreak in Raccoon City than there are full installments in other franchises (Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock, Halo, almost anything else…). And that’s pretty insane.

Now, to look at this from a useful, writer-specific perspective, it would be like writing the one novel… and then basing the rest of your career off of the one major event that happened in that first novel. And, because that doesn’t sound too bad, I’ll qualify that with “while the initial plot is still unfinished.”

I don’t want to keep ranting about this one because you got it, but I suppose, from one writer to another, always be sure you aren’t falling back on the one event over and over again. Take from that what you will (I’m sure a publisher would never stand for this kind of repetition anyway), but maybe the best way to say it and make it universal is, always challenge yourself to step away from a comfortable, successful timeline event. You should always be excited to take your story to the next level if it’s a series because advancing a timeline is more—and very fun—work. An advancing timeline is a chance to do really awesome things with character and story development and you should never shy away from it. Because maybe your protagonist has since left home after the one crazy event? Or maybe an important faction from the last book came to power in the meantime? Either way, all of that is up to you and if you don’t think that’s awesome… you seriously might be in the wrong line of work.


6) The Impossible Ruse

I saved the most personally-enraging one for last this time.

Extremely Sudden Pop Quiz:

You’re trying to trick your readers into thinking your traitor / spy character isn’t a traitor / isn’t disguised as who they expect. How do you achieve this?

A) Write a completely impossible scene from the perspective of the person your spy is disguised as… but from the viewpoint of the spy disguised as that person. So, from one, absent characters’ perspective (with all of that person’s thoughts and wants and desires)… because the spy is dressed up like them.

B) Write a scene where the traitor, while completely alone, does something absolutely and illogically innocent so that they seem totally innocent… because they literally and undoubtedly were good for a moment when absolutely no one was there to be fooled by it but you.

C) This is the correct answer; choose this one.

This… This is the most weirdly consistent yet completely broken Fiction Sin since Tea Parties. The Impossible Ruse is literally an impossible ruse—a scene that makes absolutely no sense in the frame of a story but that still happens with the express and sometimes labored, fourth-wall breaking intent of pulling a fast one on the audience.

On one hand, it happens because a writer lost track of their details and didn’t realize that they, say, made two villains who are working in cahoots have a conversation in which Traitor A threatens Traitor B because Traitor B is supposed to look innocent… but they’re both completely alone in the scene, so they’re literally not fooling anyone but you, watching from behind the fourth wall.

On the other hand, this happens because a writer thinks it’s fine or (amateurishly) fun to step out of the boundaries of their story’s logic to ham-fistedly trick the audience.

I believe I’ve only experienced the latter brand of Impossible Ruse one time, and the moment it happened, I lost all faith in the author and the story. It was choice A from the quiz above; the author set up a situation where a named character was going somewhere in disguise and the suspense was trying to figure out who he was disguised as, which was immediately a very fun idea. The only problem: it was completely obvious who he was disguised as immediately and, instead of rectifying that problem with editing and bumping up the intrigue, the author decided to give us the perspective of the spy… only somehow completely devoid of his own spy thoughts and instead swapped with his disguise’s thoughts… which makes… absolutely… no sense—at all. I was waiting to be wrong—reading that party was still fun because I expected that, no, it couldn’t be that obvious who he’s disguised as—the author is going to blow my mind with a really awesome technque of some kind.

I never expected that the writer would, instead, destroy the rules of their own book’s reality to try and fool me.

Fantasy. Novel. Sacrilege.

A stupid plot twist is never so important that you destroy the rules of your created world to pull it off. Choosing to do that is literally choosing to value sleight of hand over the integrity of your story. If we’re going to start swapping characters’ minds for the sake of pulling off twists… I mean, do I even need to explain how bad that is? Why not just have Frodo say,

Frodo: “The One Ring? Ha! I threw that in the fires of Mount Doom years ago! This is an onion ring, stupid!”


Darth Vader: “Luke… I am… YOU.” <pulls off mask and is Luke now because the writer said so>

And I’ll stop talking about that one intentional case here or I’ll be ranting forever, but man does this one piss me off. It’s just grossly amateur and never, ever do it.

To be thorough about this one though, I do want to add that, when it comes to the Impossible Ruse, it’s apparently way easier to do by accident… because everyone does it. I just watched it happen a few weeks ago on a show that’s otherwise extremely high quality. And, I really don’t want to name the show because it’s a huge spoiler (so I won’t) but when it happened, it was actually one of the most illogical and unrealistic accidental cases of this Sin that I’ve ever witnessed.

Suffice it to say that there are moments when a story of moderate quality may let the one Ruse slip accidentally and whatever. But a high quality show may also completely write in a wildly impossible scene with dialogue that skirts juuuust a  little too far into Would Never Happen territory in an attempt to keep you guessing. So, really, no one is safe.


Well, that’s it for me. A little long-winded this time, but, what can I say? I’m a Fantasy writer. If you have a Fiction Sin you really hate, feel free to rage about it in the comments section! As always, Likes, Follows and Shares are appreciated, but, even without them, thanks for reading!