"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Clichés in Fantasy

I just remembered that Dragon Rose also had a talking cat, named Caabba, who, along with the help of the prince, helped my heroine realize her true destiny.

This has kind of got me thinking about why I stopped writing this book in the first place.

1. I had no plot for it. And what outline I had written, which I was certain would solve all of my story problems, was in some blue spiral-bound notebook that has since then disappeared. Of course, I tried writing a new outline, but it just didn't seem the same because it wasn't that outline.

2. It was about a 17 year old girl named Allokohottí (Alloko for short), who had no history prior to walking into the first scene of the book, which was a mock combat scene with the prince Doda. And for some reason, this lack of a background never bothered me, but there was no explanation for why she didn't have one.

3. Even though Doda was the prince, he couldn't stand politics, and would rather spend his time in the library reading history books. And then he found the book that would draw him into the plot. It was an unnamed book, but it talked about the true history of dragons, the birth of Dragon Rose, Dragon Lady (the woman who rescued her since she was a runt and most likely wouldn't have survived her first fight), Dragon Lord/Master (the human form of the dragon who trained her to be a good fighter), and the true identity of Dragon Lord/Master, who turned out to be one of the Keepers of the Old Ways and as such was forbidden to fall in love with Dragon Rose. This book also talked about the last days of the planet Dreyverzon and the secret history of how his people came to be on his own planet. So Doda sets off on this quest to help Alloko (whom he has a crush on) to realize her destiny.

4. As it turns out, Alloko is the reincarnation of Dragon Rose, cursed by Dragon Lord/Master all those years ago, all because he fell in love with a non-Royal dragon. Only, Doda discovers that Dragon Rose was in fact a Royal dragon, and the last remaining heir of the original dragon pair (so the only Royal alive).

5. There was something to do with the king being evil (which Doda was oblivious to), and some rebellion with the leader of some cult (because she liked the king, only he was unfaithful to his wife to be with her, and in the end went back to the queen). Yeah, I wasn't really sure where I was going with that.

6. Once Alloko and Doda and Caabba finally made it to the planet (as they realized that Dreyverzon is just one of its three moons), they only have a few days left if they want to break this curse. (It's an astronomical event that occurs once every couple hundred thousand years or something.)

7. When they finally break the curse, Alloko is transformed into her full dragon glory. And Kalidor's entrapped spirit breaks free to realize that the one he loved was really a Royal, and that he had only cursed himself for the last however long for not being able to be with his one true love.

8. Now, as a romantic at heart, and since I had subtitled this A Dragon's Love Story, I always wanted Alloko to be together with Kalidor (the Keeper). Only I felt that there would be a lot of feminist people saying, "Hey, that guy's a complete jerk. He curses her, doesn't do anything to try to make it right, and then she still agrees to be with him in the end, even though all that stuff happened in a past life." Which got me thinking (that, and when my husband read it, he said he always thought Alloko and Doda would be together) who should Alloko end up with?

Now, I think I could find satisfaction if Alloko ended up with Doda and left Kalidor to his misery (hey, he earned it). But at the time, I was so set on Alloko, after becoming Dragon Rose in all her Royal dragon glory, to just go with her dragon lover. And some how that didn't sit well with me.

But back to being cliché in fantasy. Aside from the plot reasons for why I stopped writing the book, there were also some cliché reasons for why I stopped writing, or at least what I felt was cliché with my story.

1. It was about dragons. Yeah, you can't have a story titled Dragon Rose: A Dragon's Love Story without it being about dragons. But I also thought dragons were really overdone at the time. At the same time, I hadn't read many dragon books because they just didn't interest me (either the author's writing style or the plot or something), which was why I started Dragon Rose in the first place.

2. (While I didn't think this at the time, I sort of think this now.) It also had a talking cat. Actually when I first wrote this story, I thought a talking cat was something new and original. Now it seems like everyone has a talking cat.

Though really, thinking back on all of this, I don't think these two things were nearly as cliché as I thought they were at the time. Yes, a lot of people write about dragons. Yes, a lot of people include talking cats in their stories. But that isn't enough to make the whole story cliché.

In a way, it makes me really upset with myself that I didn't stay with this story. Because looking at some of the other books out there, I see bits and pieces that tell me this story could have been popular. I mean, there are romance novels about dragon shapeshifters, and my dragons could shapeshift (well, only the Royals and the Keepers could). Plus, there seems to be a lot of people who like talking cats (though, there are also those who seem to hate them).

All I can really learn from this is to not stop working on Kitsu's story until I get it finished. Otherwise, in five years time, I'll feel the same way about Kitsu's story as I feel about Dragon Rose.

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