A Stop by a Stormy Sensation - Alex Cavanaugh

How to Bring a Character Full Circle

When I first wrote CassaStar, I had no intensions of writing any other stories about Byron. The story stood on its own and Byron had evolved during the journey. But fans wanted more and I had to take the character beyond that point.

If you’ve ever written a series, then you know it’s a daunting task. Especially when you are following just one key character. How do you show growth? How do you reach a satisfying conclusion?

We all go through stages. The person we are now is not the same as the person we were twenty years ago. Situations change and new people enter our lives. Those things impact us, molding us into different people. (And we hope better!) Our characters need to grow in a similar fashion.

In my second book, CassaFire, I jumped ahead twenty years. Byron wasn’t the same rebellious young man that we saw in the first book. I showed his growth in maturity through a promotion in rank and a calmer, more professional demeanor. I also threw situations at him he’d not experienced, most of which revolved around a female pilot. Byron couldn’t remain in his secluded and private life any longer. He had to let go of past hurts and admit he needed more. He also had to face a personal demon and rise above the challenge.

The introduction of someone new in our lives always requires adjustment. So do new vocations. There are a lot of factors that can show a character moving forward, willing or not. Even as they change though, baggage still follows. And that gives us the opportunity to bring a character full circle.

In the final book, CassaStorm, I jumped ahead another twenty years. Byron isn’t just a pilot now – he’s the commander of the Cassan base on the planet of Tgren. He’s also the father of a ten year old boy who is experiencing nightmares. And he’s in the middle of a crisis that could destroy the ten known races.

All of those things force Byron to grow. But I went beyond that and tied in several factors from the preceding books. The force threatening to destroy them all originated in CassaFire. The solution ties in with a situation originating in CassaStar. There are many demons lurking this time. And ultimately, Byron becomes much like his mentor in the first book, not just in age but in wisdom. And he has to be willing to make the same sacrifice.

It’s not easy tying up a series with a neat bow. Even if your characters aren’t taking huge leaps in time like mine, you can still move them forward and bring them to a satisfying conclusion. Just remember the ripple effect, and how one incident can cause a chain reaction. Look for those incidents in your first tale.

And then bring your characters full circle.

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." 
- Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:
Book trailer  

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


  1. I love the way that you brought your story full-circle by aging the character and presenting new challenges and opportunities for growth. You did a great job with it!

  2. Wow. Excellent advice.
    Great post, Alex. Best of luck with CassaStorm. :)

  3. Fantastic advice. I think the tricky part is that the character's growth must not only be realistic, but satisfying to the reader. You did an excellent job with Byron. :)

  4. We can all learn from you Alex.Thank You.

  5. Thanks, Elizabeth! I didn't even realize he'd become like Bassa until I finished writing the third book.

    Christine, thanks - I really tried to be real.

    Thanks everyone and thank you Angela for inviting me today!

  6. Great advice and I found it especially helpful since I'm working on a sequel and not getting very far with it. Love the idea of jumping so far ahead in time and seeing how your character has grown in the interim.

    Thanks for being here with us at UR, Alex!

  7. Appreciate the insight, Alex! Have a great week, all!

  8. Valuable advice Alex especially since I am now struggling with the second book in my series.

  9. Julie, thanks for letting me invade and hope that helps.

    Siv, hopefully I've given you some ideas.

  10. Sometimes I can plan ahead and create that circle. Sometimes the characters need a little nudging. Then they revolt and take me in a whole 'nuther direction.

    At the end, we manage to arrive at the same point.

    Good post.

  11. A wonderful insight of how your writing came about and the well deserved success it has become.
    Well done Alex.


  12. Alex does such a good job pulling it all together in this series - love how the story echoes throughout! :)

  13. Well said. It certainly is difficult to get characters to grow without losing those elements readers first loved.

  14. Carol, sometimes it happens better when we don't plan it!

    Jemi, one theme ties it all together.

    Charles, don't worry - Byron is still difficult! Wait, that might not be what people loved...

  15. For some reason, I now have the song 'The Circle of Life' from Lion King playing in my head.
    The advice is really good - something we easily loose sight of.

  16. Great advice, Alex. "Ripple Effect" needs to be written on a post it! Good advice for a stand alone book too.

  17. I love those ripples. Nice to see you here, Alex.

  18. Absolutely excellent advice! I'm in the middle of CassaStorm right now, and really enjoying it.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  19. T, just don't ask me to sing it for you.

    Holly, everything in life falls under the ripple effect.

    Tina, thank you! That's good to hear.

  20. I like seeing characters grow over the course of their lives. Most series I read tend to take only a few years, which may be why my stories tend to end up as multi-generational sagas even when I didn't plan them that way.

  21. My series don't cover as many years as Alex's but I try to have my character's grow in each book.

  22. I like the whole idea of bringing a character full circle and the way Alex goes about is so simple that he makes it sound easy.

  23. Sandra, I think it's more fun to see a whole character's life.

    Toinette, it has to be easy if I did it!

  24. My trilogy spans 12 years, and it was hard to show growth from a tween to a 30 something parent. I'm discovering I like short stories better because it is usually only one event you have to depict through emotions and circumstances. I respect authors that can keep interest in characters through more than one novel.


  25. Great advice, Alex, as always!! Thank you for the insight!

  26. Very nice summary, Alex! Seeing a character evolve and grow is essential, and if that growth and evolution brings them back to where they started -- but from an entirely new perspective -- it's a great thing. Not always easy to write, but fabulous to read!

  27. Great advice. I don't consciously think about my characters evolving, but perhaps I should. Now I'm going to study whether or not my characters have grown any...

  28. Donna, we try!

    Chris, and not always on purpose...!

    Gwen, I bet they have!

  29. Wonderful post! It's so important to see the character growth through a series.

  30. I've read books 1 and 2 and look forward to 3 to experience this full circle.

  31. Dividing the series into life periods was a good decision by my estimation. And if you want to later you can always go back and fill in the years with more stories. If the fans demand it and it's worth your time and expenditure of creative energies.

    Wrote By Rote


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