Tag Archives: Dragonheart

For Love of Dragons

Hey everyone!

Lately folks have been asking me something: why dragons?  Why The Sword of Dragons?  Why Star Trek Dragon?  Why do I love dragons so much and include them in most of my writings?

It’s difficult to trace back exactly where my fascination with them truly began – to me dragons are integral to fantasy, and I’ve loved fantasy all of my life.  But what truly made me fall in love with them?  One dragon, one movie, stands out above them all for me:

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

None other than Draco from Dragonheart :D

I was just a kid when I saw this movie, and I instantly fell in love with dragons.  Mind you for me, this was the most unique take I had ever seen on dragons at the time.  Before Dragonheart, I had only seen dragons as evil killing machines that hoarded gold and kidnapped princesses.

But Draco?  He was good to the very core, wise, caring, and passionate.  And my image of dragons changed forever.  And yes, this meant I became almost obsessed with dragons for a long time….perhaps I still am, heheh.

If you were to come over to my apartment, you would see the usual: couch, TV, bookshelves filled with both novels and movies…and then you would also see dragons.  Dragons everywhere.  On the book shelves, in a display cabinet, paintings on the wall.  Dragons are pretty much a part of my life.

I have a print of this painting hanging above my fire mantle :D
I have a print of this painting hanging above my fire mantle :D

And that is why I include dragons in most of my writings.  Why my fan fiction was named Star Trek Dragon, featuring the USS Dragon, a large, graceful starship with an exemplary crew.  Why my first attempt at a novel was called Star Dragon Legion, which evolved to Sword of the Dragon, eventually to become The Sword of Dragons.

It is also why Star Dragons are portrayed as the most powerful beings in the universe in The Sword of Dragons, pure of spirit and heart, the only species that comes close to a polarization between good and evil.  In a universe where everything is grey, they are pure…as are their counterparts, the Dark Dragons.

Types of Dragons – Why European?

This is a wyvern, not a dragon. Art by http://a3raziel.deviantart.com
This is a wyvern, not a dragon.
Art by http://a3raziel.deviantart.com

If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to step onto a soap box for a moment – dragons have four legs.  Not two.  They aren’t giant lizard-bats.  While I usually won’t actually say something out loud, when I see creatures like the one featured in The Hobbit, or the ones in Skyrim, called dragons, it bugs me.  Two legs and wings means wyvern, and four legs and wings means dragon.

The two legged variants always look and move with far less grace than their four-legged counterparts.  They look clumsy.  On the flip side, they generally stay low to the ground when walking, and this can look menacing, so I can see why it is a popular choice for ‘evil dragons.’

Artwork by an unknown artist
Artwork by an unknown artist

Having said that, I’ve also had long discussions with people about why I prefer European-styled over Asian.  And the simple truth is aesthetics.  Not that I don’t like Asian-style dragons, I have several statues of them, too :D  Not to mention, there may or may not be an Asian-style ‘dragonkin’ species that’ll be introduced sometime in the Sword of Dragons series ;)

asian-dragon2In this case, it really is a matter of personal preference, and I’m not entirely sure I can qualify the underlying reason.  And it is also important to note that just as there is a very wide array of styles for European dragons, so too can it be said for Asian styles.  There are styles of European dragons I like over others, and the same is true about Asian styles.

With all of that said, ultimately for me it comes down to one important factor: how much thought was put into creating the dragons?  Are they portrayed as mindless killing machines, or as intelligent, complex life forms?  If it is the former, I’m not a fan.  If it is the latter, then you’re likely to hook me.

Which Are Your Favorites?

toothlessWhile Draco will forever remain in my heart as the best dragon out there, there have been a few others that I really enjoy too.  Second only to Draco for me is Toothless :D  I love that little guy, he has so much character and personality for a dragon without speech!  Also, for all of the movie’s shortfalls, Saphira from the Eragon movie was such a gorgeous dragon, and Rachel Weisz was the perfect voice for her :D

I’m curious to know what everyone else thinks.  What style of dragon do you prefer?  Why?  Who is your favorite dragon?  I love hearing from you all, so please comment below!  :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Write What You Know – Response to Jodie Llewellyn’s Blog

Hey all,

Today’s blog is in response to Jodie Llewellyn’s blog (click here to read it) regarding writers and the rule-of-thumb about writing what you know.

If you’re not familiar with that ‘rule,’ it basically states that a writer should only write what they know in order to make the story believable.  Writing what you don’t know is, at least in some circles of writing (like my college classes,) a taboo.

But when Jodie wrote about that very topic on her blog, she stated, “I generally like to pen something as far removed from my life as possible.”  I found that to be fascinating and, frankly, really cool :)  But it brought up an important point for me – when writing genres like Fantasy and Sci-Fi, you have no choice but to write about things you don’t have personal experience with.

Image Source - http://www.wikipedia.org/
Image Source – http://www.wikipedia.org/

If I’m wrong about that, and someone does have experience living in Middle Earth and fighting trolls, I’d love to meet you!  For the rest of us, however, we have only our imaginations to fall back upon for those experiences.

Does this mean genre fiction writers don’t need to have real life experiences from which to draw upon?  Should they avoid drawing upon real life experiences altogether?

No, in fact if anything, I think it means we should draw upon life whenever we can.

Building a Fantasy with Truth

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

I’ll never slay an orc (video games don’t count.)  I’ve never stepped foot on a spaceship.  And as much as I wish I really, really could, I’ll never encounter a dragon (unless you count a Komodo Dragon :) )  But I have fallen in love, and then had my heart broken.  I have hiked through the mountains.  I’ve taken ballroom dancing lessons.  I know how to handle a firearm, and I even have some limited experience with wielding a sword.

I’ve found in my own writing that while all of the action takes place in a world often far removed from ours (not counting my newest project,) if I write what I do know mixed in with those fantastical elements, I created a much richer, much more believable story.  The characters come alive with their own experiences, the world feels believable because of my own experiences in similar environments.

Take for instance the second chapter of The Sword of Dragons, one of the antagonists is hiking through the desert on a quest.  When I initially wrote this scene, I had never actually personally stood atop a sand dune.  Which is ironic since I lived in a desert environment for 15 years.

Photo taken by Lonnie Rednour
Photo taken by Lonnie Rednour

After I had already written that chapter, I took a trip to White Sands National Monument, and learned what it felt like to actually climb up and down large sand dunes.  I saw the breathtaking view of standing atop a dune with hazy mountains in the distance.  And I learned that climbing dunes was an extraordinarily tiring experience.

So when I went back to that chapter, I realized mistakes and assumptions I had made about traversing a massive desert, and I corrected it, hopefully making for a more believable story.  Now no, I never encountered giant scorpions in the desert or met an exiled Wizard, but with that bit of realism, readers won’t be jarred out of the story, and their suspension of disbelief can continue unhindered.

Research Can Work Too

Last year, I found myself wanting to write about something I could experience, but at the time I had neither the money nor the time to do so – sailing.  Now granted, no matter what, I would have needed to do some research.  I don’t think anyone around here provides sailing lessons on old square-rigged ships, and this was for my novel The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies.

Since I couldn’t even take modern sailing lessons, I hit the books.  Or rather, the internet.  I studied terminology, methods, technology of square-riggers and clipper ships, and even asked people who had been sailing before about their experiences.

Image Source - http://moonwolves.wordpress.com/
Image Source – http://moonwolves.wordpress.com/

It was extremely valuable knowledge, but it wasn’t quite enough for me, so I turned to a movie that I knew was fairly accurate in its rendition of square-rigged sailing: Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World.  I watched it, not for the first time mind you, but this time I paid close attention to the experiences the crew seemed to have, their emotions and the conditions in which they lived and worked.

Of course, since the novel didn’t focus on the sailing, I didn’t go into great details.  Plus it was from Cardin Kataar’s PoV, and he’s never been a sailor or even stepped foot on a ship before that journey.  So I didn’t inundate the reader with mundane details.  Never-the-less, I believe all of my efforts paid off, and the scenes aboard the Sea Wisp turned out great :)

Random Ending

Totally unrelated to this post, I recently posted a question for everyone on my facebook and I’d like to ask it here as well: I’ve been encouraged to participate in something called the Weekend Writing Warriors.  This entails what’s called an 8Sunday post, or in other words, posting 8 sentences from my current work-in-progress on Sunday.

My question to everyone: how many of you would be interested in reading snippets and excerpts from my novels?

Thanks for reading!