Literary devices are the paintbrush. The story is the painting.
We’ve all been taught this ever since we learned how to read. Letters build words. Words build stories. Most of us have also been taught how to make our writing come to life, how to add texture and all that. From my personal style of writing and the ways other authors write, this is very important to know. And it’s not just because we need to add literary devices everywhere. It’s just as important to keep an eye on your similes, metaphors, personifications, etc. so your writing doesn’t become distracting. This is especially true to fantasy/sci-fi writers, since these genres work so well with literary devices. But this can apply with any genre. It’s easy to get lost in how to describe your setting rather than the story.
I like to compare literary devices to salt and the story to a slice of bitter fruit. (here’s a metaphor here) The right amount of salt can really bring out the flavor of the fruit. But you may know what happens when you add too much salt. It’s even worse than adding no salt at all. You don’t taste the natural flavor of the fruit, you just get a terrible taste on your tongue that you want to wash out immediately. It’s the same for your story. Using literary devices can give flavor to it. But if you use too many literary devices, the story is no longer as flavorful to read.
As I have said, fantasy and sci-fi stories tend to use literary devices more often. This is for good reason. When done right, your literary devices can really bring your enchanting world to life. If not, you may sound like someone who is putting more focus on expressing the paintbrush rather than the painting. (oh great, another metaphor)
So there you have it. I hope you are not thinking that I dislike literary devices. Being an author of fantasy myself, I love adding similes and other things to give The Tales of Draco some flavor. It’s okay to add literary devices, no matter what genre you are into. Just remember to use these literary devices as the paintbrush to create your painting.
I love animals. They fascinate me in many different ways. I’m always interested in how diverse our world is. You may ask what this has to do with The Tales of Draco and, particularly, the dragons in the book. The truth is, it has a lot to do with the elements in the book. My fascination of animals has a big influence in The Tales of Draco.
For instance, Jacob Draco’s interest in animals and his life on the farm play a big role in the plot. This is what drives him and Clipper to begin their major experiment in Rise of the Dragon. As dragons, they discover their own natural gifts such as using their claws, charging with their horns, or breathing fire among many other things.
So are dragons in The Tales of Draco technically animals? You could say so, in a way as if you classify humans as mammals. Marissa Durfee, my sister and main illustrator, once said that dragons are human, just a different type of human.
We humans have our own knowledge of good and evil, so do dragons. But when you look closer, animals are more like us in many ways. Animals bleed, think, feel, and hurt just like humans do. I’m not saying that I’m against rightful hunting or the use of animals for farming. I’m saying that we should acknowledge their existence. Respect to animals can help us respect ourselves.
Many fantasy writers try to recreate a Medieval setting. However, many of these settings are actually in a completely different era in history.
When we think of a typical fantasy story, we often think of dragons, knights, castles, and damsels in distress. Basically, the setting is comparable to Medieval England. As I’ve explained before, this is because this type of fantasy has its roots in Medieval England with the stories of King Arthur or Beowulf. In recent literature, many fantasy writers still try to recreate a Medieval setting. However, many of these settings are actually in a completely different era in history. The Renaissance came after the Medieval Era. This is when literature really began to move forward once again.
The Medieval Era didn’t really mean the end of advancing technology, but it was clearly a time of slow progression. Books were rare and expensive because they were difficult to make. After the terrible Black Plague, a new surge of energy swept over Europe. Technology advanced at an extraordinary rate. This was when the printing press was invented. Books became more common. New stories had biblical and mythological inspiration. This is the setting that many fantasy stories today come from.
Of course there are books and movies that have a true Medieval setting that are put together quite well, but more than few have a Renaissance setting even when many believe it is Medieval. Think of Beauty and the Beast for example. The main character, Belle, loves to read. We learn of the grand library in the beast’s castle. That gives us evidence that this was a time that books were common. We also know that Belle’s father was an inventor. The elements in this story come from the Renaissance.
It’s no crime to have either a Medieval or a Renaissance setting, though they can be overused. One thing we can learn about these two time periods is how important literature is to our society. It was during the Renaissance when we had great writers like William Shakespeare. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the age of Romanticism with writers like Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne. There is yet another golden age of literature that began in the twentieth century that continues today (the twentieth century was called the century of the book). This shows us that literature plays a huge role in moving society forward. It is through words that moves civilization forward.
A good reader is also a good writer.
There are some helpful elements that can really help an author unlock his or her greatest potential. A good author should write often, of course. But one of the most important things an author should do is read. Reading is what moves literature forward.
There is a broad range of what an author can read, and it can influence what the author will write. For example, I love reading fantasy books. It’s one of my favorite genres along with classical fiction. I enjoy entering other worlds and experiencing things I could never experience on a daily basis. I will constantly return to books about dragons, adventure, and magic. It’s what gives the adventure to me. And because I love reading in the realm of fantasy, I also love to write in the realm of fantasy. Just remember, write about things you love. I love reading about dragons. That is why The Tales of Draco is about dragons.
Believe it or not, if I had not read some of the books I enjoyed in the past, I doubt I would have written The Tales of Draco. So if you ever decide to write a story, one of the best exercises for you is to read. Reading will give you inspiration. It’s inspiration that will move literature along. A good writer is also a good reader.
There is a reason behind the fact that the protagonist is a dragon.
Being a fantasy novel, it comes to no surprise that dragons are in The Tales of Draco. Many other fantasy novels have dragons as key characters or simply used to support the magical world that we as the reader is not used to experiencing every day. In The Tales of Draco, dragons obviously play a big role. There is a reason behind the fact that the protagonist is a dragon.
Believe it or not, my view on dragons has changed significantly over the years. When I was only a few years old, many movies that my parents would watch that had dragons scared me. Even one of my favorite shows I watched as a child gave me nightmares. But despite the fact that as many times these fantastic creatures frightened me, there were a few television shows that had dragons who did not scare me as much. With that working for me, I eventually overcame my “dracophobia”. Before I knew it, I loved reading about dragons. Both the European and the Asian style of dragons would fascinate me.
When I began thinking of the storyline for Rise of the Dragon and the rest of the series, I tried to think of different ways on how my story could differ from any other fantasy book. This was when I noticed that dragons in fantasy were usually the main antagonist or a secondary character, depending on the book. I had never read a book where a dragon is the main protagonist. With this realization, I asked myself what the life of a dragon is like. What are a dragon’s common thoughts? What are his urges and instincts? I was then thinking about the philosophy of humans overcoming natural instincts. Thus, I decided that dragons in The Tales of Draco were naturally evil, though this evil can be conquered. With this wonder of what a dragon is thinking, this is also why the book is in Jacob’s point of view.
With these reasons, I decided to make Jacob a human who becomes a dragon. That way, Jacob can describe his feelings and thoughts in a way that we as humans understand better. It is not easy overriding a dragon’s instinct. And Jacob may even have to fight against this instinct as an outside force.
In Rise of the Dragon, most of the book takes place in our world. The second earth, Elsov, is not introduced until chapter twelve. And even then, all that is known about this world is that there are fairies, nymphs, grøls, and bleakly explained regions (with the exception of Pearl Forest). If Jacob has many of his thoughts on Elsov after his vision, then why is there little information about this strange world?
One answer to this question is Jacob’s basic understanding of Elsov. When the story is in Jacob’s mind, it also follows his knowledge. After his vision, he knows little about the second earth. As Jacob tells his story, he won’t give anything away about his experiences until they come chronologically.
Another answer comes from the structure of the book. As the series unfolds, more information will be given about Elsov. If I give all the information (including the geography and the inhabitants) at once, then what? My intention for this world is to have its identity unfold as the series progresses. Regions and inhabitants will be revealed later on. In the upcoming sequel in The Tales of Draco, there are many more scenes on Elsov. I also have a map of Elsov that will be revealed in one of the sequels.
The first few books in The Tales of Draco take place in the first earth: our world. The next books, Elsov will play a much bigger role in Jacob’s life.
“This Royal throne of kings,
This scepter’d isle…
This blessed plot,
This earth, this realm,
It seems in our fantastic literature, a European setting is what usually comes into our mind. This is with good reason. When I read fantasy books, I notice that the setting is often comparable to English, Irish, or Norse cultures. I actually quite enjoy this setting. I love reading about knights, castles, dragons, and adventures in lush countrysides. However, like any cliché, this setting can become too redundant in fantasy. The world is much bigger than a continent. I’m not saying that Europe is a bad setting. The Tales of Draco has its fair share of European influence, but I do not intend on having European culture be my only influence. I also love Asian, African, and Native American cultures as well.
So why is the European setting very common in fantasy? The answer comes from Medieval history. Many stories such as Beowulf and The Legend of King Arthur created the path for the fantasy genre to follow. These stories were created in Medieval England, so the setting followed. Even today, many settings take place in Medieval England; and to tell you the truth, the setting could introduce many other painful clichés. Even fictional languages have roots in Europe and before long, these fictional languages start to sound similar to one another.
If you ever plan to write a fantasy story, maybe change things up. Add some Chinese or Middle-eastern cultures. Taking a break from England once in a while may help your story become unique. You could even create a combination of cultures. When other settings are introduced, Europe can once again become the great setting for fantasy as it is and always will be.