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Friday, December 31, 2004
 
A Dragon Named after a Road?!

Sometime in November, I was struck with a great idea. I would write a fantasy story for my nephew, who's a huge Lord of the Rings fan. He was going to get my old computer for Christmas as well, so if the story turned out to suck, he still wouldn't lose out. :-) Somewhere along the line, I also got the idea of naming the characters and locales after streets and towns near where he lives. I often pass through that area on the way to my parents' house, and there are lots of great street names there.

I had lots of wonderful ideas for this story. I also had hopes of making it look cool by using fancy paper from the craft store. As time went on, I realized that I actually had to write the darn thing. As usual, that was the hard part. It wasn't that I had no ideas, it was that I had so many, and on top of that, the ideas were contradictory. He was an orphan, he had parents. It took place in the forest, it took place in the city. He would defeat a nasty beast, he would be the only one wise enough to stop the beast by healing it instead of attacking it. He was a prince, he was a villager, he was a lord, wait, he was a prince again. Sometimes those ideas jumped around in my mind at the same time. (And you wondered why writers sometimes didn't hear what you're saying. Sometimes we're talking with dragons.)

And then suddenly it was December! And then I blinked and it was the middle of December. Literally just days before Christmas (blush!), I decided I had better get off, I mean on, my butt and write the darn thing. I had a false start, which I slogged through for a while before I realized that if I wanted to put my nephew to sleep, I should buy him a nice pillow instead. Then I decided to start with the protagonist in danger (wow, what a novelty!). And what do you know? When I did it that way, it worked. Maybe because now I was actually interested in what happened. ;-)

In the end, the story ended up being about a young noble (the son of an earl) who was kidnapped by three thugs working for his father's enemy. All three of them are named after roads! One of them turns out to be one of his father's men, the greedy turncoat so-and-so. They shove him into a dragon's cave so that the dragon gets the blame instead of the evil lord who employed them. And that's how my protagonist meets Trevanion, perhaps the only dragon named after a road. Probably not the only dragon with heartburn, but who knows?

Writing the dragon's dialogue was a lot of fun. The story turned a bit more humorous after that (dragons with heartburn will do that), but still provided plenty of adventure. (Well, I think it did. No one has called me and said my nephew fell asleep reading it.) I managed to finish the story. Then I picked up some fancy paper and stickers at the Michael's craft store (on Christmas Eve of all days!) and drove to my parents. (It was fun spotting some of my characters on the street names as I drove on by.) I printed it out there so Mum could (of course) find the typos, made it look spiffy, and gave it to my nephew when he visited with his father, brother, sister, father's fiancee.

Of course, a writer's job is never done. Both Mum and Dad read it, and Mum thought it could be expanded (gasp gasp gasp), and if I remember correctly, Dad also mentioned the "S" word -- yes, "sequel"!

Oh, and I also managed to prove that I can write a fantasy story without gay men! Amazing, isn't it? Maybe I should try to write more children's and YA stuff. I like reading it, and the challenge looks like one I'd love to take on. Even if it doesn't succeed, it would be interesting. And I would never have to buy my nephew another Christmas present as long as I lived. (Hah hah, just kidding!) At the very least, it would teach me to learn how to write without padding because kids are a demanding audience that want the writers to (oh the horror!) actually get to the point and tell the story instead of wandering off. Come to think of it, I can think of a number of fantasy writers who should try to write children's and YA stories just to learn that lesson. Their books wouldn't be so hard to carry and wouldn't crush the hapless reader who had the misfortune of falling asleep while reading in bed.
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