My WritingWriting Advice

Why I Don’t Write About Dragons

In fantasy, dragons are huge, and I don’t mean literally (though that’s obviously true). They’re so huge that you often don’t see them in a novel or series unless they’re the center point (Dragonlance, Pern, and many others) or at the very least part of the climatic finish (The Hobbit).

Dragons in literature have been around since antiquity. The Leviathan, often thought of as a sea serpent, was first mentioned in the Hebrew Book of Job. Tiamat of Babylonian myth was a many-headed dragon that Dungeons & Dragons turned into an amalgamation of their different colored dragons. Beowulf combats a dragon and defeats it (though he dies of his wounds shortly thereafter). Saint George also fights and kills a dragon in the aptly named tale, Saint George and the Dragon. In various ethnic mythos, dragons of one sort or another show their scales, whether it be European, Chinese, Indian, or others.

In more recent times, dragons have made appearances or been featured in such books as the Dragonriders of Pern, the Dragonlance Chronicles, the Temeraire series, The Hobbit (of course), and many, many other novels (Robin Hobb comes to mind).

Writing about dragons is not an easy task, especially if they’re right at the center of things as they often deserve. That in itself is the problem for me. They are such majestic, overwhelming entities that they simply must be the focal point. Anything less and I think an author is selling them short.

Much like elves, one might argue that dragons have been “done to death”. Yet authors like Novik and Hobb continue to bring fresh perspectives and interpretations of them to readers. Dare I even attempt to follow in their footsteps? Not right now. I’m already going down a path of my own with my blending of alchemy, elemental magic, sorcery, and pseudoscience in The Alchemancer series. That doesn’t mean there aren’t dragons somewhere out there waiting for Aaron and co. to find. I can already picture in my mind the conversation Aaron would have with a dragon were he ever to encounter one! Now that would be something worth writing about. Or maybe it would just be another Eragon. I'm quite certain the world does not need another one of those.

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