Thursday, April 4, 2013

D Is For Dragons...

There are lots of typical creatures in fantasy writing that some writers choose to leave out for whatever reason. The one creature that is starting to fade from fantasy, in my opinion, is dragons.

Maybe I am not reading the right books. But George R. R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" is the first book series I have seen in awhile that even mentions dragons.

I remember back when I started writing, I casually mentioned I had never read any of J. R. R. Tolkien's books. I could feel the astonishment weighing heavily in the silence that followed before the person practically erupted, saying, "HOW can you call yourself a FANTASY WRITER if you have NEVER. Read. Tolkien!?"

Allow me to exclaim:

How can you call yourself a fantasy writer if you don't write about dragons!?

Some people think dragons are over done. I don't think so. I think dragons are as crucial an element of fantasy as the sword and shield. Kings and Queens, Knights, Dwarves, Elves, all of it. Lots of people are veering away from a lot of these things in fantasy writing because they're afraid of sounding cliche, but geez, man! Don't eliminate them altogether!

More often these days, I browse the fantasy section of books on Amazon and almost all of them seem to me better off in the paranormal or sci-fi section. A good majority of them involve werewolves, vampires and witches.

Oh. My. Gah!

If I am wrong, please tell me. But it seems that good old fashioned sword and sorcery is starting to go the way of the garden gnome.

Bring back the Dragons! Bring back their caves of gold and jewels, their fire breathing ferocity and their wise, honorable nobility. Make them fill the sky with the spread of their massive wings and block out the sun!

14 comments:

Joseph Lallo said...

I'm pleased to say that dragons remain a staple of my writing. Obviously my readers are still big dragon fans, too, because a while back I asked which character they would most like to see get a character interview, and the early favorite was Myn, a dragon with NO LINES OF DIALOGUE!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Paranormal is NOT fantasy. Agree there!

Sandy said...

The fascination with dragons is something like kids loving Dinosaurs...there big and unique?

A-Z

Cherie Reich said...

LOL! My post today is about "Why Dragons?" I love dragons and that's why I have them in the fantasy worlds I write. :D

A to Z Participant
Cherie Reich - Author and Surrounded by Books Reviews

klahanie said...

Hi Mel,

Ah yes, I have magical wee folks who live in my garden. They even visited my latest posting. And oh yes, bring back the dragons. And before my comment starts to um dragon, I'm going now :)

Happy alphabeting, Mel.

Gary :)

Charity Bradford said...

LOL, as I read this I was thinking "I have dragons!" But they won't play a prominent part until later in the series and I'm giving them a decidedly scifi bent.

I wonder if people are shying away from dragons because its hard to make them your own. Steadfast fantasy fans have a definite view on how dragons work in fiction. They might not like my slanted take on them.

Tony Laplume said...

There's definitely a dragon in The Hobbit. You'll see him in the second movie for sure.

Mel Chesley said...

@ Joseph ~ I'd love to see Myn in an interview... I know she doesn't speak, but still. ;)

@ Sandy ~ Could be. I love dinosaurs too. :)

@ Cherie ~ Awesome! I went to read your post. :)

@ Gary ~ Think they can come clean up my house? :D

@ Charity ~ Even if people put the dragons into their story using descriptions and characteristics from the Dungeons and Dragons manual I'd be happy.

@ Tony ~ I know! I can't wait to see Smaug! I'm so excited for the next installment.

Janeal Falor said...

I love dragons! I don't have any in any of my current books, but have ideas for them. So many ideas, but so little time...

As for reading about them, the Firelight series had them, with a fun take. The Inheritance Cycle, Incarnate, Vessel, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and Dragon Slippers are a few I can think of. So maybe they're still out there, but getting hidden behind the massive trends that come out?

Sarah McCabe said...

You're talking about one corner of the realm of fantasy. Fantasy is limitless and comes in all shapes and sizes. Dragons are just a trope, they certainly aren't essential.

(In my opinion, paranormal falls clearly under the fantasy umbrella and if I was categorizing things so would much science fiction.)

Personally, I don't find dragons any more appealing than I find vampires (which isn't very). Though every once in a while an author will come along with a unique take on things that draws me in despite my normal preferences. Ursula LeGuin's dragons, for instance, have always been my favorites.

Mel Chesley said...

@ Janeal ~ Thanks for those suggetions. And yes, it could very well be that they're just hidden somewhere.

@ Sarah ~ I'm falling so out of love with vampires myself. I used to like them when they were scary. Now it seems they're all trying to find their way to being good again. I know fantasy holds a broad spectrum. I suppose I should categorize even further by saying Sword and Sorcery Fantasy or even High Fantasy.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Epic fantasy isn't as prevalent as it was a few years back, so I'm thinking that the staple fantasy creatures have taken a back seat. If it helps the steampunk fantasy idea I have has dragons in it (but then it's set in Wales, so it would have to :P)

Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom
www.mithrilwisdom.com

Janeal Falor said...

You had me thinking about dragons all last night - lol.

The books I listed, some of them the dragons are more like creatures you'd find in paranormal books. Like werewolves, but are now just dragons. Or the books that have more of a traditional dragons in them, the dragons don't seem to be as preventable to the story. They take a back seat to other things, which is disappointing. I remember wanting to learn more about the dragons in those books but never got a chance to.

Hopefully they'll make a come back and bring some fun new twists on them.

Mel Chesley said...

@ Jamie ~ That does help! That'll be awesome to see. :D

@ Janeal ~ I like to see what sort of perception people take when it comes to dragons and other fantasy creatures. :D It'll be fun to see who comes up with what!