I decided to use the first chapter to introduce Viggo because I really wanted to show what kind of villain he was as early as possible. I wanted to show that he was clearly an experienced wolf hunter, so I made his tent be made completely made of wolf pelts as well as having his vest and arm bracers be made of wolf fur. Giving him a sword was an interesting idea since it’s far from a typical hunting weapon and I felt like he would be more badass with one. This first chapter was fun to write because by the time I wrote it, I already had his entire story figured out, so it was great finally getting to start the mystery.
Chapter two was hard to write because I had absolutely no idea what was going to go on in the Western Pack before Viggo attacked. There was just this prolonged period of peace and no action for two entire chapters. I decided to have Oscar be accepted into the Western Pack, but even then, I didn’t have many ideas, so I really had to think of ways to stretch out the chapter. I decided on having Stinky give Oscar a tour of the pack since that would be the obvious thing to do with a newcomer, and then I decided to address Oscar’s inability to fight. Having Mick train him seemed like a fun idea and I was able to stretch the chapter out a little more with some humorous dialogue and Stinky trying to convince him to train Oscar. By this point, I had decided that whenever I didn’t have many ideas, I would shorten my minimum number of words in the chapter to 500 instead of 1,000 so it would be easier to get through it.
Despite being purely filler and serving absolutely no relevance to the plot, chapter three was actually super easy and only took a day or two to write, mainly because I had already written it out in script form, so all I had to do was get a little more descriptive, change the tense of writing from “he does this thing” to “he did this thing”, and put in the proper quotation words like “said”, or “replied” instead of doing “Stinky: *dialogue*”.
The general idea for this chapter was basically to give both the heroes and the villains some time to relax before everything went to crap. I also wanted to increase some of the mystery surrounding Viggo by stating that he was obsessed with destroying the Western Pack but had him keep avoiding answering the question whenever it was brought up, so there would be some kind of mystery and question people would be asking as to why he was so secretive about it.
It was around this time that I began to feel guilty about Viggo’s last name, his original last name. When I came up with it, I had been completely drained of ideas and I didn’t want to keep waiting, so I basically ripped off another villain’s name and only changed the last half of it. I kept thinking for months about an alternative as the guilt kept getting to me and I eventually thought of one that could work, although it would require quite a few changes, but I was willing to do that.
I decided to change Viggo’s last name from Grimskull to Thanatos. I had already thought of that name a couple weeks before, but I threw it out since Viggo Thanatos didn’t sound right. But then I eventually went with it and just had it be a fake name he preferred over his real last name. That way, I gave myself leeway to give him a simple non-villainous last name and yet still have him sound intimidating as well. So, his real name became Viggo Johnson, although he was known as Viggo Thanatos. I kept coming back to this name because it literally means “he who brings death”. I did have to go back and search through my stories and change his last name or get rid of it every time I saw it and I had to change the name of The Rise of Grimskull, so it ended up being Rise of the Hunter which still got the same message across. I also changed the name of his sister from Heather to Leyla simply because I like it more. Plus, the way it sounds matches her character well. It’s a very soft, gentle sounding name, which is who she is, as opposed to Viggo which is hard and kind of rough.
I decided to finally set Robert’s plan into action in chapter four. I wanted it to be a bit complex, but not too complex. It was basically just to take the valley with overwhelming force and the element of surprise. But then I realized that Oscar knows what Viggo looks like and if he saw him, he would identify him as the Wolfslayer, and it wasn’t time for that reveal yet, so I needed a way to get him out of there. So, I decided to make Robert’s plan a little more complex. Use the Crimson Pack to lure the best fighters away from the pack, which would include Oscar, while Viggo invaded while they were gone. Martin being taken and inducted into the Crimson Pack was an interesting idea I had pretty early on and so I decided to have Viggo run into him during the Crimson Pack’s distraction so that he could be taken. Then I could give Jax and Jonas some purpose in the story other than comic relief.
My decision to bring Garth and Lilly along hinged on the fact that I wanted everyone to have a decent amount of “screen time”. The reason Kate was never in The Next Generation or Rise of the Hunter was because she was a very active character in The Final War so I didn’t want to use her and take up space that someone else could use. Garth and Lilly spend The Final War as hostages in the Western Pack, so I wanted to put them in the action here before that happened. While Oscar isn’t trapped in the valley during The Final War, he still doesn’t have much to do, hence why I gave him a bigger role in Generation and Rise.
Again, with Martin, I planned for him to be in the Crimson Pack in The Final War and he’s never really in the story, so I gave him some stuff to do in the other two stories. And of course, with Humphrey returning and taking the role of protagonist in War, I gave the pups more to do in the other two so that it would be more okay to more or less bench them in War. Lydia was difficult because she ended up being not very active in any of the three stories, but I really liked her so I tried to fit her in as best I could wherever I could, which is why I left her and Runt behind when Stinky went to find the Crimson Pack so then they could be more active in chapter five when Viggo attacks. Her relationship with Runt was mainly something I did to give more tragic effect to Runt’s death in War, but I never thought about exploring that relationship much, so again, I did what I could and hoped people would just be happy for Runt.
Meanwhile, I had planned to use the Crimson Pack as a distraction to get Oscar out of the pack. My reasoning behind this was to prevent a plot hole from erupting. A big reveal was coming up in The Final War that Viggo was the Wolfslayer and the wolves not knowing that was very crucial to the story. However, I almost wrote myself into a corner by having Oscar describe the man who killed his family to the Western Pack, and then by having them assume that whoever it was had to be the Wolfslayer. Now, I had to pull a Clone Wars and just like with Grievous and Anakin, I had to make sure Oscar and Viggo never met, or else Oscar would identify him as the Wolfslayer before the reveal was supposed to happen. So, sending him out with Stinky and the other lesser utilized characters not only kept the two from meeting, but it allowed me to put these underused characters in the center of the action for once.
“Dawn of Destruction” was an episode title from a favorite TV show of mine, and I liked how it sounded cool and ominous, like something bad was about to happen, which, of course, it was. I decided to do a bit of Tolkien world building and make it an actual in-universe event as well.
I wanted to establish Viggo’s presence as menacing, even though this wasn’t his plan and therefore, he wasn’t at his best right now, which is another reason why I had him induct Martin into the Crimson Pack in chapter four as an act that was his alone, not having anything to do with Robert’s plan. He simply saw an opportunity and took it. I also established an intimidating mood by having him casually kill a wolf without slowing his pace or acting like he had noticed it approaching in any way. And once again, by having his invasion be so devastating that the pack was forced to completely abandon their home, although since he was restricted by Robert’s orders, he isn’t able to go to the necessary means to keep them from escaping, something that changes in The Final War.
I realized that Lydia didn’t have much “page time” in The Final War and this story was quickly coming to an end, so I decided to injure her at the end of this chapter, so I had an excuse to focus on her and Runt in the next chapter. This also served a secondary purpose which was to draw out chapter six since I, once again, had absolutely no ideas for it, although in hindsight, there were so many things that I needed to cover because of what had happened in chapter five that it pretty much wrote itself.
I realized that Stinky and everyone who went to capture Hammond wouldn’t know to avoid the valley now. If anything, they’d be rushing back as fast as possible. So, I knew that someone had to go and stop them. Also, the speed that they had to evacuate made it so that no one would’ve been able to get a good look at Viggo, so no one could describe him to Stinky when he asked who attacked them, therefore, Oscar couldn’t identify him.
Naturally, since they were taking refuge in the Northern Pack, I knew Fleet would be worried about Claudette and used him as segue into the stuff with Runt and Lydia. What I did with that segment was mainly establish the fact that Runt is afraid of losing her, which makes for some good irony considering he’s the one that ends up dying in the end.
It was at this time that I switched the names of Lisa and Lydia. Originally, the names were flipped, and Runt’s girlfriend and eventual wife was named Lisa and Steven’s wife and Garth’s puphood friend was named Lydia. But Lisa (Runt’s wife) was based off of my first crush, who was named Lydia. She was sweet, kind, and caring, which is what I made Lisa. I named Garth’s puphood friend Lydia because I wanted Lisa to be her own character, but I still gave the name Lydia to a smaller character as another connection to my life. However, I eventually realized it felt kind of weird to essentially completely base a character off of someone but not use the name. It didn’t feel real. So, I decided to switch the names. Besides, calling them “Runt and Lydia” sounded better than “Runt and Lisa”. However, since The Next Generation had already been posted at the time, Lisa’s name had already been established to the readers, so I kept calling her “Lisa” until I finished posting the stories, and then went back and switched the names out for the complete collection.
It was at this time that I realized Marcel and Paddy were nowhere to be found in this entire trilogy and I knew people would be wondering about that. The reason I never put them in the story is because they’re characters who are kinda hard to write for, especially if you know next to nothing about golf, like me. So, I kinda just forgot about them. I came up with an in-universe explanation for their absence which is this. At the time of the original movie, and if we go with the idea that everyone ages the same, no matter their species, then Marcel and Paddy would have been in their fifties and forties, respectively. So, in the twenty-four years that pass between the first movie and The Next Generation, they would be too old to really do anything.
I also realized that my description of the Western Pack in A Hero’s Past was now completely wrong from how I’d written the story. In A Hero’s Past, I described the edge of the forest next to the valley as being north, but in both stories that came after, that part of the pack was described as being in the east because it provided a better way of escape and simple movement through the pack.
So, I decided to go back and completely redo my description. I fixed the directions that the valley faced and also re-described it’s shape and look in more detail, as things in Rise of the Hunter had developed in a way that I had to add some things to the valley that weren’t previously there. For instance, there now had to be a tree line along the sides of the valley for the wolves to hide and ambush Viggo’s men in the climax, a detail that was never there before.
I also described the small mountain where the Moonlight Howl takes place, which was difficult because, from looking at the movie, you’re never given any visual cues on where it’s located relative to the pack. You never see the mountain and the valley; you never see the mountain and Kate and Humphrey’s den. All you ever see is just the mountain and nothing around it. So, remembering that Humphrey follows Kate away from the mountain and back into the forest where they are later tranquilized by the trappers, I decided to put it in this alcove on the eastern edge of the valley that leads back into the forest.
I really had no specifics on how the climactic battle was going to go, so I mainly focused on Viggo and Robert’s point of view. I started off with developing the tension between them because at the end of The Final War, Robert ends up betraying Viggo and I needed to start to establish that tension that would ultimately drive him away. I based some of the ideals that Viggo has off of myself. I’m quite a bit above my peers in school as far as intelligence and smarts, not to brag, but that’s just how I am. And sometimes, it can be annoying or un-understandable to me whenever most kids struggle on something that has been common sense to me for a while. I either always thought that it was something people my age just knew, or I would get annoyed that they didn’t know something that to me, seemed so simple. So, I definitely drew off of that when developing this part of Viggo’s character.
As for Robert’s character, I basically gave him the logic of an ordinary person, but it just doesn’t seem that way because we’re seeing him through Viggo’s eyes in this particular instance. He’s not dumb by any means, but to Viggo, he looks that way. It is logical to assume that if you inflict heavy casualties on your enemy and take over their home in one quick move, they wouldn’t be quick to rush in and try to retake it. However, he struggles to comprehend illogical methods.
I guess you could liken Viggo and Robert to the two models of tactical droids seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Like the first, older model, Robert is good at logical strategy and planning. You see this when he uses the Crimson Pack as a diversion to lure Stinky and some of the wolves away from the pack so they could take it over. It’s a simple diversion and it worked perfectly. But he can’t get a handle on unconventional thinking. He dismisses improbabilities as impossibilities because to him, no sane person would be crazy enough to try it.
However, like the second, newer model of tactical droid, Viggo does comprehend unconventional thinking and no matter how crazy a tactic that his enemy could use seems, he doesn’t throw it out the window completely and always accounts for the possibility that it just might happen. (This is a great comparison that just happened to work out by the way.)
This is also why Robert doesn’t like chess all that much. He sees using complex strategy as a waste of time and effort when battles could be easily won with much simpler tactics. I used this as a good way to finally get Viggo involved. I wanted to give Robert the chance to be the villain while also introducing Viggo in the background, although he ended up being more present in the story than I expected, which is good considering the story is called Rise of the Hunter, Viggo being the hunter that rises.
Viggo was largely inspired by Grand Admiral Thrawn from Star Wars, so I decided to quote him in chapter eight. I don’t really have much to say for chapter eight as it was just the short aftermath of the battle, setting up Viggo taking back over as leader, and ending with the massive cliffhanger that Humphrey was still alive.