Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

This post is the seventeenth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I discussed adding in bits and pieces of your characters’ back story to your novel. It can add intrigue while making your characters believable. Today, I want to talk about another technique that can add tension and suspense to your story – though in a different way. That way is by foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing is a way of indicating or hinting at what will come later. It can be subtle (such as storm clouds on the horizon suggesting the danger that is coming) or more direct (like Romeo and Juliet talking about wanting to die rather than live without each other).

Foreshadowing can be used to build suspense or to prepare the reader for impending events without revealing too much of what is to come.

Without foreshadowing, readers have no expectations because you haven’t provided them with any. Since many beginning (and even some veteran) authors struggle with foreshadowing, I wanted to offer these tips.

  • Make sure the incident needs foreshadowing. Not every event needs it and overusing it will cause the effect to be lost on the reader. It should only be used for the major events in your novel.
  • Remember to follow through on the foreshadowing. If you introduce a gun (or a mystic stone), it will need to appear as an important piece of the story or your reader will feel cheated.
  • If you are building suspense, your foreshadowing should be more obvious since it is key to the suspense. If you are merely setting up a situation for later, you may want the foreshadowing to be almost invisible to the reader. Think of this as planting clues that the reader may miss but when they think back about it will realize they were significant to the event they were pointing to.
  • Carefully consider the timing of the foreshadowing. It needs to be far enough in advance to tip off the reader but not so far ahead that the reader forgets about it. If you are using it for suspense, remember not to drag it out for too long or the reader will disengage from the suspense building.
  • Don’t forget that you can also use foreshadowing to deliberately mislead the readers. You can make them believe that X is about to happen when really Y happens instead.
  • Since foreshadowing is tough to do – you don’t want it too obvious or too subtle – this is a good time to use a beta reader. Something that you feel might be obvious may not be clear to your readers.
  • A lot of foreshadowing is done after your first draft is written. It might be easiest to plan for foreshadowing by selecting the events you want to foreshadow and then work backwards to incorporate the foreshadowing in the preceding chapters.  A small event may only need a little foreshadowing while a major event that occurs near the end of the novel may be hinted at and alluded to almost from the beginning.

Foreshadowing can be a tricky business and how you use it – heavy-handed or subtle – is up to you. The best way to learn about foreshadowing techniques is to observe them in the books you read and movies you watch. And, of course, by practice in your own writing.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

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Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

This post is the fourteenth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I wrote about the importance of dialogue and gave a few tips on writing dialogue. Today, I want to talk about a special type of dialogue – internal dialogue. This is what your character is thinking. It is not the same thing as narration, which is when the person telling the story (the narrator) talks directly to the reader.

Now there are a few rules about using internal dialogue.

  • Only use internal dialogue for the point-of-view (POV) character. If you show the thoughts of non-POV characters, it is called head-hopping, and it is a big no-no in writing (though I do see many romance authors committing this writing sin.)
  • Only share thoughts that advance the story. We don’t need to hear every thought in your character’s head. We just need to hear the important ones that are relevant to the plot.

Including internal dialogue is a good way to replicate real life. In our own lives, we are always thinking to ourselves – noticing things, trying to solve problems, giving ourselves pep talks or berating ourselves.

There are two ways you can include internal dialogue – indirectly or directly.

Indirect Internal Dialogue gives the reader an idea of the character’s thoughts without the exact words they are thinking. You do not need to include the tags “wondered” or “thought.”

Here is an example taken from Internal Dialogue by Marcy Kennedy:

The suffocating stench of lilies clung to his clothes. She slowly pulled away from his hug. Shivers traced over her arms. She knew that smell. Not perfume. It was too natural for that, but it also wasn’t an everyday odor. She wouldn’t expect to run into it at the grocery store. Or the bank, either. It was rare. Heavy, warm, and sad.

Her breath tripped in her throat, and she stepped back. He smelled like death, like a corpse smothered in flower arrangements at a funeral parlor. The last time she’d smelled it was standing next to her mother’s coffin, saying good-bye.

Direct Internal Dialogue gives the reader the exact words the character is thinking. It is written in first person and present tense, regardless of the person and tense of the rest of the story.

Here is above example written as direct internal dialogue (also from Marcy Kennedy’s book):

The suffocating stench of lilies clung to his clothes and hair. She slowly pulled away from his hug. Shivers traced over her arms. I know that smell. I should know that smell.

Not perfume. It was too natural for that, but it also wasn’t an everyday odor. She wouldn’t expect to run into it at the grocery store. Or the bank, either. It was rare. Heavy, warm, and sad.

Her breath tripped in her throat, and she stepped back. He smells like death, like a corpse smothered in flowers at a funeral parlor. The last time she’d smelled that scent was standing next to her mother’s coffin, saying good-bye.

Formatting your internal dialogue

There are many ways to include internal dialogue in your novel. There are two rules you need to follow.

1.) Never use quotation marks for internal dialogue.

2.) Be consistent with whatever format you choose.

For indirect internal dialogue, you are not using speech tags (he thought) or setting off the words in italics since you are not giving the exact words.

For direct internal dialogue, you can use both a speech tag or put the information in italics. (Liar, she thought.) Or you could just decide to use italics. (Where’s the money you owe me?)

Once you have mastered using internal dialogue, you can use it to help your readers connect with your characters. It will help the characters feel more real and most importantly the internal dialogue can advance your story.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

Novel Writing – Prologue and opening scenes

This post is the eleventh in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

You have decided to write a novel. You have planned out your plot and built up believable characters. You have your outline or perhaps you are plan to just sit down and write. You are now at that point.

But where do you begin? How do you begin your novel?

The very first words, sentences and paragraphs are some of the most important. This is where you are going to hook your reader into wanting to keep reading.

You may decide to start with an interesting scene that draws in your reader and sets the stage for your story. That all sounds good until you have to write the scene.

Perhaps you are thinking your reader might benefit from more information before they are introduced to the world you created. This information might help them understand the importance of what is happening. This is where a prologue comes into play.

Prologues

 A prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details.

Prologues appear at the beginning of most Star Wars movies.

Various purposes of the prologue

  • Give background information. For example, in a sci-fi book, it may be useful to introduce the alien world in a prologue so that the reader is not confused when they enter a completely foreign world in the first chapter.
  • Grabs the reader’s attention with a scene from the story. I can think of numerous movies that do this. They start with an exciting scene and then pause to go back and fill in everything that led up to that scene.
  • Describe a scene from the past that is important to the story, such as the death of the main character’s mother, which is motivation for the action in the novel.
  • Give information from a different point of view. If the story is written in first person and the prologue in third, the prologue could give information that the main character would have no way of knowing.
  • It expresses a different point in time. The prologue could be the main character when he or she is older and reflecting back on another event, which begins in Chapter 1. (Think of the opening scenes in the movie Titanic.)

So with all these good reasons for writing a prologue, what is the downside? Well, often prologues are boring. If too much history is put into the prologue, it can turn off readers. And many readers say they skip the prologues so if you include an essential part of the story here, your reader may not get it. But the main reason not to include a prologue is that they are often unnecessary. Many of the purposes of the prologue can be accomplished in the actual novel.

So before writing a prologue, ask yourself, will this fit in Chapter 1 or perhaps later in the story? Is this essential to the plot? If the answer is no, skip it.

But if you decide to add a prologue to your novel, here are some things to consider.

  • Keep it short. You don’t want the prologue to drag on for half the book.
  • Keep it interesting. This is the first thing the reader will read so you want to hook them with this passage.
  • Think of the prologue as a separate entity from the novel. Just because the prologue has a hook doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one in your first chapter.
  • Limit background information. I have read prologues that are dull and boring histories which I ended up skimming. You can weave background information into your novel so don’t dump it all here.

Overall the prologue, when done correctly, can enhance your story and further your plot. But when done incorrectly, it can put your readers off so consider carefully before you include a prologue.

Opening Scene

Now it doesn’t matter if you wrote a prologue or not as the opening scene must still hook the reader. You want them to read the first few paragraphs and want to keep on reading. They should want to know what happens next.

Here are some things that your opening could do…

Introduce your story idea – think of the opening scene of Jaws where the shark attacks a group of teenagers.

Foreshadow your story idea – think of this as the opening to Sleeping Beauty when the fairy curses the baby at her christening.

You may want to start with an action or suspenseful scene. Of course this could backfire as the reader may be confused as to what is happening and which character they are supposed to be rooting for. Well actually there are pros and cons for almost any way that you might want to start a novel.

Long scenery descriptions are typically bad. And most other website will also warn you to not start with a dream sequence unless you first let the reader know that it is a dream. Some authors recommend not introducing too many characters at once in the beginning and others will tell you not to start with the weather.

The key is to not throw too many new things at the reader in the beginning. Don’t worry about backstory, description, character motivation (or internal monologues). Instead look for action that drives your story forward. You only have a few pages to hook the reader (or book editor).

You want to begin with conflict and tension. Something has gone wrong.

Often writers spend too long building up to their story. This means that the first few pages or even the first few chapters could be totally omitted from the novel without any problem. I have seen a few other authors say that it is the first 50 pages or the first three chapter. Know that it does take some practice to figure out where to begin your novel. I re-wrote the beginning of my first novel Summoned a dozen times, starting later and later in the plot until I found the one that worked.

For every “rule” of what not to do, there is an example out there of someone who made it work for them. But the most important thing is to draw the reader into your story. You don’t have pages to convince them this is the book for them. You have just a few pages at most. Make them count.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

The importance of tension and pace

This post is the tenth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Before we get into writing your novel, I wanted to talk about two important elements – tension and pace. Understanding both of these will help you write better scenes in your story.

Tension

Tension is the element of a novel that evokes worry, anxiety, fear or stress for both the reader and the characters.

One way to think about it is you are raising the stakes for your character, so he or she has to work to get what he or she wants. And this shouldn’t be easy. Basically, you want to keep saying no to your characters so that the conflict appears unsolvable. The more at stake for your character, the more emotions he feels about situations and events.

Tension can take many forms.

  • Anticipation of conflict
  • Unexpected events– sometimes the reader knows what is coming, but the character doesn’t and sometimes both are surprised by what happens.
  • Fear of secrets revealed
  • Impending doom/sense of urgency

It is the author’s job to figure out how to produce these in the story.

Often once one obstacle is conquered, another one crops up. But while good fiction is full of tension and suspense, it needs to vary throughout the story. You need to turn down the intensity for short periods. How much you slow down the tension will depend upon your story needs and the demands of your genre. But just because you slow down doesn’t mean the momentum stops. This may simply be the calm before the storm.

Tips for creating tension:

Short sentences – short, choppy sentences with active verbs signal tension. Think of your sentences matching your protagonist’s racing heart. Avoid long sentences filled with adjectives and adverbs.

Show, don’t tell – rather than “He was nervous.” Write: “His hands trembled.”

Cliffhanger – leave them hanging

The stakes in fiction matter because the stakes create tension. Your protagonist’s happiness and perhaps even his life, depends on the outcome of the story. If the stakes in the story are low, then the tension will be weak.

It is the stakes of the story – the tension – that keeps many readers hooked to your novel.

Pace

Pace is the speed in which events happen in your novel. You need to balance the pace of your writing. If your scenes drag on and on (slow pace) then you lose or bore readers. If it is too fast, you will leave your readers unsettled and it won’t be a comfortable read.

The trick is to get the balance just right. And there is no one out there that can tell you what that balance should be.

A lot of this will depend on your style as a writer. It can also be influenced by your genre and your readers’ preference. A young-adult audience might require a faster pace than adult novels. A short story might quickly jump into the action while an epic tale might be told at leisurely pace, speeding up from time to time during the most intense events.

Ideally, your pace will vary throughout your novel. You will have fast-paced scenes followed by slower ones. This will allow the reader to have a break (and perhaps catch their breath) after your action-packed scenes.

Many new writers make the mistake of believing they need to have a very action filled plot to keep the readers’ attention from beginning to end but this is not the case. It is actually the varying of pace that will keep readers hooked to your story.

So what determines the pace?

Fast pace is all about action. When something is happening, the pace is brisk. Slow pace is more on character reflection of past experiences or wondering about the future. It can be scene descriptions or even the passing of time – sometimes months or even years pass in a single sentence.

To speed up pace:

  • Have lots of action
  • Less description
  • Shorter sentences (and paragraphs)
  • Dialogue is short and to the point
  • Cut adverbs and adjectives to a minimum
  • Use strong, active verbs
  • Omit or limit character thought

To slow down the pace:

  • Longer sentences
  • More description
  • Less action or slow action such walking or making tea
  • Dialogue is more relaxed/conversational

Now your story can be paced very fast all the way through or even have a slow pace through most of the story but often it is best to use a mix of both forms. Using variety enhances your story and can keep the reader engaged.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

The importance of a story arc

This post is the ninth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Before we begin writing, I wanted to discuss your story arc. Knowing and understating the nature of this arc can help you ensure that your story stays on course or let you know if the story is getting away from you.

A story arc covers the beginning, middle and end of your story. Characters also have arcs – typically covering internal growth or change. If your story is about just one main character, then your story arc and your character arc could be the same. But if you have a large cast of characters, each character will have their own arc. Some may be ending their own arc while others are just beginning. Your story arc will tie or weave these arcs together.

Beginning/Establish Routine – This is where the reader is introduced to the characters, and we get a taste of what happens in their everyday life.

Example – Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.

Note: Last week, I mentioned starting your novel with a gripping scene that grabs the readers’ attention. But most of the time this gripping scene is probably not what is drawing your character to leave their “normal” life to partake in the adventure. An example of this type of start would be in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. While we meet Indy during an exciting scene, we are then returned to his life as a professor.

Trigger/Inciting Incident – Something beyond the protagonist’s control triggers the spark of the story causing the protagonist to act. This incident or trigger will require your character to make a choice and truly begins the story.

Example – For Cinderella, it is the appearance of the fairy godmother. For Harry, it is the appearance of a mysterious letter which leads to him finding out he is a wizard.

In a romance, the inciting incident is probably where the two romantic leads meet each other for the first time. In a mystery, it may be when the first dead body is found.

No matter what the event is, this is what gets the story rolling. It introduces an inequity or problem into the character’s life. The protagonist will seek the solution. The Antagonist seeks to prevent it. But without this event, nothing changes. If Harry hadn’t received the letter from Hogwarts he would have continued to live under the stairs – something very unexciting and certainly not worth a seven-book series.

Rising Action/Conflict – The trigger results in a quest which often has obstacles, complications, conflict and trouble for the protagonist.

Example – Cinderella must endure the antics of her stepmother and stepsisters after her happy time at the ball. Harry stumbles through learning to be a wizard while finding clues about what the Dark Lord wants.

Crisis/Critical Choice – Along the way, there should be incidents of crisis followed by brief breaks. Often the protagonist must make a crucial decision. This is where we find out what type of person the character truly is. At the critical choice, the protagonist must decide to take a particular path.

Example – Cinderella decides to fight her Stepmother for her right to try on the glass slipper. Harry decides to stop Professor Quirrell from stealing the stone.

Climax – This is the highest point of tension in your story and comes from whatever choice your protagonist made during the critical choice. It doesn’t have to be a huge battle between good and evil. It can be something as simple as an important decision being made.

Example – For Cinderella, it is the point where she attempts to escape her locked bedroom as her stepsisters try on the glass slipper. In Harry’s instance, it is his battle with Professor Quirrell.

Falling Action – This is where the consequences of the critical choice and climax play out. It should show the changed status of your characters – especially the protagonist. The changes must make sense with how the story unfolds. The outcome should be probable as nothing should happen for no reason.

Example – Cinderella meets up with her prince and gets married. And for Harry, it is his time in the hospital where Professor Dumbledore divulges the meanings behind the recent events.

Resolution – This is where the story wraps up. Your characters return to their lives but now are perhaps wiser or changed.

Example – We see Cinderella and her prince driving off in the carriage, presumably to live happily ever after. Harry gets back on the train to return to the Dursley’s but this time knowing that he will return to Hogwarts for another year of school.

If you search the Internet, you can find more complex diagrams of the story arc. Some use different terms or add more steps, but these are the basics of a story arc. Knowing these steps of the arc can help you in planning your story or at least making sure you stay on track.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

Last week, I celebrated my fifth year as a blogger. Since I began, I have written 271 posts on writing or publishing. Whew! Yes, sometimes it feels like I have covered every topic out there.

I tend to write about whatever I am working on in my current work in progress.  If I am just starting out, I write about world or character building. If I am on my second draft, that becomes the topic of a blog, and if I am trying Kindle Select, I write about that and how successful or unsuccessful it was.

This means often times the topics might jump around so I thought I would write a “How to Write a Novel” series in order to help novice writers. (Last year, I did write an outline of writing a novel with links to appropriate posts. You can find it here.)

Now my new project won’t just be a re-posting of old posts. And even though I was thinking of it for the beginner, I think seasoned writers may still be able to find some tricks and tips, or they can feel free to share their own methods and ideas in the comment section.

In fact, if anyone has suggestions of topics regarding writing or publishing, please leave your suggestions in the comment section below.

So, now on to the first topic….

You have always dreamed of writing a novel. Maybe you want that instant fame or perhaps people have been telling you for years that you would be a good author. For whatever reason, you have decided to finally write that novel rolling around in your brain. But before you do, let’s clear up a few common myths or misconceptions about writing a novel.

Myth #1 – Writing is Easy

Some people (who obviously haven’t written a novel) consider it to be something easy. However, you need dedication and determination to write a novel. It is not easy to write and publish a novel. In fact, many people start a novel but never complete it. It isn’t just having a good story idea. You have to write it, then re-write sections or perhaps all of it, edit it, then edit it some more and finally proof it for grammar and spelling. All of this takes a lot of time. You have to be determined to see it to the end and not be discouraged as you work through the process. You are NOT going to pen a full-length novel in a few weeks. (Key word is full-length novel as in 80,000 to 100,000 words. To find out the average lengths of different literary works, click here.)

Myth #2 – Writers Make Big Money

People hear about the superstars. They hear about the J.K. Rowlings, James Patersons and Steven Kings who make bundles of money and expect that most writers make a good living writing. No. In fact, many writers do not write full-time. They need a day job (or a spouse) to help pay the bills. Even if you do make money selling your first novel, it will take a few more books before you probably will see consistent money coming in.

Myth #3 – Writers Write to be Famous

If you are writing to be famous, you probably should pick a different career. Actors and singers have people mauling them on the streets but not many people would recognize Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling if they ran into them. Some writers may write with the hopes of becoming a household name, but many of us do it because we love it. (Though emails from fans is always a great perk.)

Myth #4 – It is Easy to Publish a Book

Just as with the myth about writing, many assume it is easy to get published. But that is far from the truth. If you publish traditionally, competition is fierce for agents who can get your books in the hands of the right people and even then book publishers are often hesitant on betting on a novice writer. Now self-publishing has made it easier to PUBLISH a book (in electronic or paper form) but just because you publish a book, doesn’t mean you will be successful. There are so many books out there it is tough to reach an audience. You will spend more time promoting your work than writing. (Of course in the best course is often to keep writing more books until you have several published works. To read more about this concept, click here.) But publishing a novel is a whole different area that you don’t even have to worry about until you have actually written your novel.

So if it isn’t easy, we don’t become famous or make a lot of money, why do authors write? I can’t speak for everyone, but I do it because I love to write. I love the creative process and bringing characters to life. There is no wrong way to do this. Some people need to plod along making and learning from their mistakes while others want to plan everything out.  But nothing begins until you make that commitment to actually sitting down and writing your novel.

Tune in next week when I address how you get started on that novel.

Dragons as characters in your novel

Dragons have been a storytelling staple for ages. They have appeared in folklore tales where heroes slayed the dragons to save the damsel.

And in more recent literature, TV shows and movies, dragons have appeared as wild beasts to be ridden or even turn out to be allies. Adding a dragon to your story can create instant conflict as these mythical creatures breathe fire and hoard their treasure or they can be a loyal friend and protector.

Anyway you look at it, adding dragons to your novel can be a way to interject some engaging characters.

The thing with dragons is that there are so many variations in looks and behavior that they really can’t be lumped together. Whether they are villains or protectors, friends or foes, here are the two main categories of dragons.

Types of Dragons

Western or European dragon – These dragons come from European folk traditions. These four-legged, reptilian creatures with wings often have some level of intelligence and may be able to speak either through speech or telepathy.

They dragons live in caves or near rivers. Some breathe fire or poison. Some may hoard treasure. Sometimes these dragons can shape shift into other creatures including humans. Their appearance is varied. They can have horns, multiple heads or tails and come in variety of colors and sizes.

Eastern or Chinese dragon – This also encompasses all Japanese and Asian dragons. These dragons are often serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. They too have four legs but are wingless.

They creatures represent primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are associated with wisdom, power and luck. Many are said to possess some form of magic. Temples and shrines are often built to honor them. Unlike the Western dragons, these Eastern dragons are portrayed as benevolent and kind.

Wyvern This smaller cousin of the dragon is a winged, two-legged creature with a barbed tail. It has the head and wings of a dragon but typically lacks the grace and intelligence of a dragon. They do not breathe fire or speak.

Dragons as characters

Since we are dealing with an imaginary creature, what you do with your dragon – whether you make him a ferocious beast protecting his lair or a full-fledge character adding conflict to your story – is totally up to you. You have complete control over whether your dragon is large or small, has one head or a dozen, and whether it has magical powers or any signs of intelligence. The possibilities are endless.

But if you are going to make your dragon more than a wild beast to be slain and going to make it an important character, you need to develop them as you would any other character. You need to know their desires, their back story and build their behaviors and characteristics around these traits.

My books

I love dragons, so they have shown up in all of my books. In my The Elemental trilogy, dragons are large enough for 5-6 people to ride. But they are far from beasts of burden. They are distinct, well-developed characters who speak telepathically but cannot breathe fire. My favorite is Zoot, a gruff, sarcastic black dragon that befriends Lina, the protagonist of the series.

In my stand-alone adventure, The Heir to Alexandria, the white dragon, Enchanta, plays less of a role in the novel. She too is telepathic, but her main role is to guard a hidden fortress, revealing it only to the rightful heir.

My current work-in-progress, tentatively called Blood Bond, goes back to making dragons main characters within the story. The tale is all about Soren and his dragon Dex. Here again, the dragons communicate telepathically and are key players in the plot.

So if you choose to add a dragon to your novel, feel free to go against the norm and create a unique creature that enhances your story. And remember, you are really only limited by your own imagination.