F is for Finding Dragons
Next in the April 2017 AtoZ Challenge, join me as I indulge my own work for a moment, even though it’s not quite written yet, and talk about the dragons in my novel Finding Dragons.
Since I’m focusing on the dragons in each of this month’s offerings, I’ll talk about the dragons that may or may not exist in my world, starting with a picture I found many years ago, when my whole novel concept was coalescing before me. They’re all the western-style dragons with six limbs – four legs and two wings – although they’re also very distinct from one another. A full year of sharing dragon artwork might have influenced some of my ideas over time, but I still have this and the other images in this post pinned up on my wall for inspiration.
I instantly connected with the dragon sculpture above by American professional artist Kimberly Alisse Boyer, posting on deviantart as kimrhodes, although as you can see, I felt the need to adjust the wings a little to more resemble the wings of a Brass Dragon (one of my all-time favorites). I love the cat-like pose, iridescent scales, and overall Eastern influence Kim included; it has a mix of dragon styles just as the Avatar: the Last Airbender dragons have (from my first AtoZ post).
Below is Kim’s actual dragon sculpture, along with her unpainted work-in-progress version. Kim has so many more amazing pieces in her deviantart gallery, and you can also purchase her work from her Etsy shop. I’ve always imagined that when I got closer to completion of my novel, I might commission Kim for a customized sculpture of my own!
In my story, there are three types of dragons “known” to my characters, although I follow the trope Here There Were Dragons, as I’ll explain.
The dragon above is what I’ve always referred to in my head as a “tiger-sized” dragon, about the size of Toothless in the How To Train Your Dragon movies (and maybe why he’s one of my other favorites; also, there are no tigers in this habitat, so describing them can be a challenge). These dragons were said to roam the steppe where we first meet my characters just a few generations before, but no one has actually seen one in a long time; only the elders claim either they or someone they knew has encountered one. The current generation tends to put off these dragons as legends, stories told to amuse and frighten the younger children of the Sky People.
I’ve always loved the art of Russian deviantartist Alvia Alcedo, and I’ve shared this image before, but her Dark Obsidian Dragon reminds me of a cave painting that my characters, who are part of a primitive hunter-gatherer culture, might have created.
In this world, there are further legends of huge dragons flying over the steppe and hunting the same big game animals as the Sky People once upon a time, though nothing like that has been seen for many generations, and even those who talk of the tiger-sized dragons are uncertain these larger dragons were ever more than an exaggeration.
Here’s another of my favorites by American professional artist Nico Niemi called Dragon Moon, which may be what those large dragons look like. I imagine this dragon as the size of a Queen Pern dragon from the Ninth Pass (although not as large as Ramoth), about 20 feet tall with large, non-brass wings. You can see lots more of Nico’s beautiful art in her portfolio at EBSQ.
And finally, there are tiny dragonets in the world, real creatures that likely inspired both of these legends. They are palm-sized dragons that blend in with and compete for resources with the native bird populations that the Sky People revere. My characters have grown up with these creatures, and they are just another species in their native habitat — although people are starting to notice that dragonets have become scarcer in recent years.
Dragonets are smaller than many of the eagles, falcons, and owls of Sky, and the flying, warm-blooded, egg-laying dragonets often wind up as prey just as the mice, voles, birds, and other creatures found on the steppe. However, dragonets are omnivorous and the size of large pigeons, so smaller songbirds and their eggs often wind up a meal for them in turn. I found this image called Dragonfly and by Russian deviantartist SnowSkadi back in September 2016, and while I’m not sure how lizard-like I plan to make my dragonets, this picture was too good not to share again.
I really enjoy blogging about dragon art, as I’ve done for the last year, but I also know that blogging is taking me away from being as committed to my novel and the rest of my series as I’d like to be. Hopefully, switching from daily (except for April!) blogging to weekly posts will give me more time to refocus on my own writing.
But sometimes the story and lore I’ve woven in my head just seems so big, too much to ever shape into a coherent story! Composing this post has reminded me of a few things that I’m going to have to keep in mind, though:
ONE: More than a year ago (before I started blogging), I buckled down for a class and actually created a chapter-by-chapter novel outline detailing the entirety of my first book.
TWO: I’ve done a lot of worldbuilding research and I have my three “sociological characteristics” (main concepts) nailed down, and the rest should follow from there.
THREE: I’ve named all of my characters, and given them detailed back stories and roles in the plot. I just need to set them on their courses and see what happens.
Now, I just need to follow my outline, build my world, let my characters play, and write my first draft, knowing full well that first drafts are supposed to suck and be rewritten. (The writing segments under my Finding Dragons page are… okay, but I know now they can only be background and will need substantive rewrites, and I’m all right with that.)
Here is another page from my calendar that is definitely motivating me:
Never let the odds keep you from doing
what you know in your heart you were meant to do.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I know I’m meant to tell this story.
I hope you enjoyed this sketch of the dragons in my someday-to-be-written novel, Finding Dragons, and thank you for following along on my AtoZ Challenge this year. Wish me luck practicing what I preach once the challenge is over!
Join me tomorrow when I head back into uncharted territory and learn about a giant, golden three headed dragon…
Dragon sculpture by Kimberly Alisse Boyer, posting as kimrhodes (first with my sketch additions, then the original)
Work-in-progress Dragon Sculpture by Kimberly Alisse Boyer, posting as kimrhodes
Dark Obsidian Dragon by Alvia Alcedo
Dragon Moon by Nico Niemi
Dragonfly and by SnowSkadi
Calendar page by Robin Pickens, from Seize the Day by Sellers Publishing, photo by me