Draco. Chapter 45. Fearless.

Shean locked eyes with Allie as Stephen’s blade pierced his skull. He’d never had a family before. No one to die for until Allie.
He had just enough time to smile before everything went dark. Wind rushed past his ears as he fell. Then nothing.


Allie reach out to catch Shean, but he was too far away. There was nothing she could do for him anyway. He was dead as he fell, a small smile etched on his face.
Stephen flipped the knife in his hand and threw it at Allie. She saw the knife just in time, throwing herself flat against Claire.
Anger overtook her as the knife passed over her shoulder, biting into Claire’s hide.
With a shout, she threw herself at Stephen, attempting to tackle him off of his dragon. She managed to wrap an arm around his neck, throwing all of her weight into the chokehold.
“Traitor,” he hissed as he broke her hold with a sweep of his arm, following up with an elbow to her jaw.
Her vision darkened for the briefest of moments as she rolled backward down his dragon’s back.
Just then, both of the dragons rolled, still grappling for dominance. Claire was worn down, but unburdened by Allie’s weight as she tore at the other dragon.
As the dragons rolled, Allie was nearly thrown clear of the fight, but barely managed to grab hold of the dragon’s leg.


Camore and Horn reluctantly let their wild dragons go, forced to follow Stephen’s orders. They had new enemies to worry about, turning to face the swarm of Claimed flying toward them.
The four riders carrying torches flew straight toward Camore. None of them engaged right away, taking their time in sizing him up.
Jade was one of them, riding on Jade’s back. She carried a blazing torch as she circled Camore, looking for an opening to attack. Three others held similar torches, including Draco, who’d commandeered one of the guard’s horses.
Their four torches were the only ones they’d managed to scrounge up before rushing in to attack, making them the only chance of taking down Camore.
Patty climbed higher into the sky to avoid Camore’s tail just as Draco’s horse slammed into Camore’s side.
With a lunge, Draco dragged his torch across Camore’s wing, attempting to set it on fire. But before it could catch, Camore spun, knocking the torch out of Draco’s hand while simultaneously snapping the head off of a guard with its teeth. His torch went out as he fell through the sky.
Patty saw the opening, bringing Jade down hard on Camore’s head. Jade slashed at its back as Patty jabbed her torch into its face.
Camore let out a roar as it raked its claws across Jade’s body, flinging her off of him before Patty’s torch could set him aflame.
Camore spun, following Patty as if to finish the job, but Draco interfered, slamming his horse down on its back. The horse clawed deep past Camore’s scales just as the fourth guard faced the dragon head on.
Foolishly, he flung his torch at Camore’s face.
Furious, the dragon pumped its wings, knocking Draco off balance just as Camore snapped the other guard in half.
Draco’s horse launched away from Camore, joining Jade as they circled the dragon. Patty’s was the only torch left.


Horn dove in and out of the Earth, picking off his enemies one by one. Serenity rode a lion, forced to hover above the ground where Horn last disappeared.
“We can’t hit him hard enough!” Frank yelled from the back of his horse. “Not while he’s using the ground as protection.”
“Be patient,” Serenity yelled back. “Ground or not. Dragon or not, we have to try.”
Just then, Horn exploded from the ground, wrapping its jaws around the last remaining guard and dragging him back underground.
Serenity and Frank climbed higher in the air with their Claimed, watching the Earth for signs of movement.
For seconds. Minutes, there was silence as Horn waited for the Serenity and Frank to move closer to the ground. Close enough for him to surprise with an attack, but they maintained their distance.
Finally, Horn emerged, clearly agitated as it flew at its enemies. Frank intercepted the dragon, letting Serenity fly higher into the sky.
Horn snapped at Frank’s horse, roaring in aggravation as Frank led him on a narrow chase. All the while, Serenity climbed higher, watching for her moment.
Eventually, when she deemed they’d climbed high enough, she urged her lion downward, gaining momentum as they sped toward the dragon.
Frank repeatedly spun in the air, barely managing to avoid Horn’s claws as Serenity barreled toward him.
Just before Serenity arrived, Horn caught Frank in his claws. Frank was ripped from his Claimed, thrown to the air just as Serenity’s lion slammed into Horn’s head.
The lion was half as big as Horn and had hit him with as much force as she could muster, but Horn was unfazed.
Horn spun in the air with Serenity and her lion still attached. Then, catching them off guard, he plunged toward the ground, slamming Serenity into the Earth.


Stephen’s dragon roared, trying to shake Allie free from its leg as Claire bit at its neck.
Allie’s arms shook with the strain of holding on to the dragon, all too aware that she wouldn’t be able to hold much longer.
Stephen frowned at her, but made no effort to reach her as she clung to his dragon’s legs. Instead, he gazed into the distance, communicating with his dragons.
Suddenly, Stephen’s dragon managed to twist itself around Claire, breaking her hold on him. Then, with a sickening crunch, he sunk his teeth into Claire’s neck.
Claire immediately sunk through the air, limp.
Then, able to hold on no longer, Allie feel through the air after her.
With a satisfied grin, Stephen left them to fall and steered his dragon through the clouds, eager to deal with Drumond and Sarah personally.


Camore flew right at Patty, identifying her torch as the last remaining threat.
Patty and Jade dove underneath the dragon, twisting in the air in an attempt to avoid the dragon’s wrath, but Camore was too fast.
The dragon managed to hook Jade with one of its claws, yanking them to the side with a force that nearly knocked Patty off of her back. Even as she struggled to stay on Jade, Patty tried to catch Camore’s leg with the torch, but the flame wouldn’t take.
With gritted teeth, Draco flew straight into Camore’s leg, trying to break its hold on Jade, but his horse wasn’t strong enough.
Camore flapped its wings in a fury, twisting its neck around just enough to catch Draco’s horse in its teeth. Then, with a twist of its jaws, it flung the horse to the side.
Draco jumped just in time to catch Jade, pulling himself up next to Patty as his horse fell through the air.
“Give me the torch,” he said, breathless.
Patty pressed her trembling lips firmly together. “But… I can fight. I’m not going to go hide. Not this time.”
“I know you can fight,” Draco said, watching as Camore reared its head back, preparing to bite into Jade next. “You’re so brave, little one. Your mom would be proud.” And with that, he snatched the torch from her hand and lit himself on fire.
Ignoring Patty’s look of horror, he leaped onto Camore as the flames took hold, climbing up its leg.
The move caught Camore off guard, shocking it into hesitating, its jaws poised over Jade and Patty. With a roar, it tried to bite at Draco instead, but it couldn’t quite reach him.
With the flame now roaring around Draco’s body, Camore’s leg finally caught on fire, slowly at first, and then quickly spreading down its body.
In searing pain, Draco forced himself to keep climbing, working his way up Camore’s torso until he finally reached its head.
Soon, Camore’s entire body was covered in flames. Only then did he finally release Jade from his clutches. All four of them fell through the sky. Patty and Jade in pain. Draco and Camore in flames.


Stephen broke through the clouds just as Camore burst into flames, falling through the sky.
With a snarl, he flew past the dying dragon, forcing himself to focus on Horn instead. Only two of his dragons remained, but with Claire out of the fight, his enemies had none. He intended to make sure it stayed that way.
Suddenly, Horn emerged from the ground with a victorious roar. Behind him, both Frank and Sarah were sprawled on the ground, their bodies actively trying to mend themselves back together.
Stephen landed his dragon next to their bodies. “Good boy, Xaen,” he said as he slid to the ground.
As he looked down at Frank and Sarah’s beaten bodies, he was surprised to find mixed emotions welling up inside him. Relief at the victory, and yet disappointment as well.
Years spent in pursuit of absolute freedom, and it he finally had it. Earned through the blood of his fellow gods and their pets. It had taken far too long to accomplish, and yet… it felt unfinished. He was unsatisfied. And as he stared down at Serenity’s slowly healing body, he realized why.
It wasn’t enough to have freedom. He needed revenge. And with that realization, he allowed himself to breathe more easily. Yes, revenge. And he was about to take it.
Feeling more sure of himself, he grabbed Serenity’s unconscious body and dragged it on top of Xaen. “Now for Drumond,” he said as he flew back into the sky, Horn at his side.


Allie blacked out as she hit the ground. Distant in her consciousness, she felt her body break at the impact of the fall.
Then she felt nothing. Thought nothing. Time was eternal, and yet had stopped. Then, eventually, light broke through.
Words, thoughts, and images reformed in her mind as she fought to stand. Her muscles trembled, but held enough to climb to her knees. Then she managed to open her eyes.
Claire stirred next to her, mere feet away. Allie could feel her pain as she stumbled toward her. Her dragon let out a pitiful roar as she rose her neck, muscles trembling more visibly than Allie’s.
“Take your time,” Allie whispered, gently laying her hand on Claire’s wing. “The fight is already lost.”
Claire let herself back to the ground, following Allie’s advice in preserving her energy. It wasn’t until that moment that Allie noticed the mound laying several paces past Claire.
The heap was colored just like the ground, camouflaged as it recovered its strength. The wild dragon Allie had saved from Stephen.
Hope flared within Allie as she was hit with the realization. She had the opportunity to continue the fight. All she had to do was Claim the struggling dragon.
Making her decision, she sprinted toward the dragon, her chest tight with anticipation. Her body rebelled against her, protesting the limits of its health, but she refused to listen, pushing herself to catch the dragon before it was too late.
The dragon raised its head, alert, just as Allie leaped onto its back. And with all of her strength, she held her hand against its head, attempting to force a bond.


The sound of their impact was the only thing that alerted Draco to the fact that they’d hit the ground. The rest of his senses were blinded by the pain of the flames, and yet he still clung to the bonfire called Camore.
Jade pumped her wings, managing to slow their fall just before crashing into the ground next to them. One of her legs snapped as they hit, the impact of the fall throwing Patty from her back.
Draco forced himself to crawl, every motion pure agony as his body fought the flames. Blindly, he clawed his way forward. With every pull against the dragon’s scales, he tricked himself, convinced that the next pull would bring him free of the fire. The next. And the next.
He had nearly fallen unconscious by the time he managed to finally pull himself free of Camore. He would have never realized except for falling off of Camore and onto the cracked Earth. The flames ate at his body all the same, refusing to let him recover.
“I suppose I should thank you for going out with a fight,” Stephen said, kicking dirt over Draco. “It would have been disappointing any other way.”
The flames enveloping Draco began to die as Stephen continued to kick dirt over him.
“I’m quite tempted to let you burn,” Stephen continued, “and I still just might. But I haven’t come all this way just to stab you in the back. No, I want to watch your eyes fade as you die.”
As Stephen continued to layer Draco with dirt, he became increasingly aware of his aching body. Feeling returned to his limbs as he became acutely aware of the searing flames.
Finally, the fire died down enough that Draco regained control of his eyes. When he opened them, he found himself laying face-up, looking at Stephen’s menacing grin, Xaen and Horn framing the sky behind him.
Then Stephen raised his knife.
Stephen’s grin grew wider. “Did Miguel tell you, Drumond? I was hoping he might.”
Draco tried to roll to the side, but his muscles had yet to reform, still fighting the active flames.
“A glass blade,” Stephen said. “Made special for the king.”
Then, with a steady hand, Stephen brought the knife down to Draco’s chest, resting the tip of the blade on his half-exposed heart.
“You’ve had your run,” Stephen whispered. “It’s my turn, but don’t you worry. I’ll take care of your wife for you.”
Draco tensed, his eyes widening as he tried to move his arms, hardly managing to raise them off the ground.
Stephen laughed, pressing the glass blade so it cut into his heart. A shallow cut, bringing a slow bleed.
Suddenly, the Earth shook with a chorus of roars.


Allie flew Claire over the fire, aimed directly at Stephen and Draco. Physically, Claire was weak, not fully recovered from her injuries, but Allie could feel the rage flowing through her. She was ready to fight.
Beside her flew Bael, her new dragon, equally ready to fight as he fed off of her emotions.
Before Stephen’s dragons could rise to meet them, Allie leaped off of Claire, landing directly on Stephen’s back.
As she threw everything she had into her chokehold, her dragons clashed with Stephen’s head-on. Bael thrashed at Horn as Claire wrestled with Xaen. The last of the standing dragons.


Serenity was thrown off of Xaen as he launched himself into the sky. Half-conscious, she attempted to catch herself as she hit the ground, but to no avail.
Her body was still healing where Stephen had injured it, done in the attempt to keep her subdued, but he had left her alone for too long.
Slowly, she climbed to her feet, stumbling in the process.
Looking around her, she found a pile of flames littering the sky-line with dragons clashing overhead. But what most caught her attention was Stephen stumbling backward as he fought to free himself from Allie’s grasp.
Then Draco rose from the ground, looking paler than she’d ever seen him.
As soon as she saw him, she found herself running, gaining momentum as her body healed.


Draco stumbled to his feet, holding his right hand over his heart. Even as his skin healed, he could feel his heart continue to bleed.
Stephen stood before him, throwing Allie back and forth as she clung to his neck. With wild jabs, he managed to stab Allie repeatedly with his glass blade, but it wasn’t enough to break her hold.
Allie yelled victoriously all the while in his ear, pausing only to bite at his neck.
Draco dragged his feet forward, determined to help her finish the job, but he was too slow.
Before he could reach them, Stephen managed to free himself from Allie by slashing her wrists. She let go, falling to the ground just as Draco attempted to tackle him to the ground.
Stephen nimbly stepped out of the way as Draco fell to his knees, but before Stephen could take advantage, Serenity appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.
Before he could react, Serenity tackled Stephen to the ground, knocking the knife out of his hand.
Draco watched as Stephen rolled on top of her, pinning her shoulders. He tried to stand, to run to her aid, but he was too weak.
Then Stephen lunged for his knife, Serenity still pinned to the ground.
Draco got to his feet, only to fall again. “Sarah,” he whispered, unable to speak any louder.
Stephen grabbed his knife, holding it over Serenity.
“No,” Draco said, climbing to his feet once more. “Sarah!” He yelled hoarsely, managing to throw himself at Stephen.
Draco lost his balance as he crashed into Stephen knocking them both into the ground as Serenity rolled out of the way.
Draco tried to stand again, but he had already used everything he had to save Serenity.
Then Stephen was on top of him, knife in hand. “There’s no time to savor this,” he said. And then he plunged the blade into Draco’s heart and twisted, breaking the glass.
Draco mouthed two words as he died. Inaudible and unheard. “I’m sorry.”


Serenity rolled to her feet to find Draco lying at Stephen’s feet. Lifeless, his eyes half-open, a tear still on his cheek.
Serenity froze, uncomprehending as she stared at her estranged husband. She paid Stephen no mind as he moved toward her, her mind in shock.
Tears formed on her cheek, her body beginning to shake with despair.
It was Allie to came to her rescue, prompting her to fight. Allie to broke Serenity out of her haze. Then came the fury. The anger at Draco for leaving her yet again. The anger at Stephen for forcing him.
What came next was a blur as Allie and Serenity fought together, tearing Stephen down bit by bit until he finally lost consciousness.
It was only then that Allie’s dragons persevered. Horn was the first to go down, killed with a blow to the head by Bael. Then Xaen fell under the pressure of Claire and Bael, subdued long enough for Serenity to Claim him as her own.


I’m keeping this extremely brief since this chapter took so long to write.

Be fearless.

Don’t let expectations rule your writing, not your own or anyone else’s. Your story doesn’t have to look a certain way. End a certain way. Etc.
I suggest you be true to the characters. To their arcs. To use certain storytelling principles in order to write a satisfying story.
But those are just suggestions.
The only necessary thing to be a writer is to be fearless.
Write what you want to write. Don’t let fear get in your way.


Allie. Chapter 31. Understanding & Satisfaction.

Allie turned Claire around, anxious to get back to the caravan and warn Serenity that they were surrounded.
They could fly over the canyon with their dragons, of course, but the caravan itself was stuck until they could create a solid enough pass for the wagons to cross through. That would take precious days; days in which they would be surrounded by the enemy.
Claire flew through the clouds, diving low enough that Allie could barely make out the caravan in the distance when something suddenly slammed into her from behind.
Allie was thrown off her dragon, the force of the attack ripping her grip free of Claire’s wing.
As she plummeted through the air, she saw Claire being dragged down by two other dragons, their roars drowning out Claire’s cry.
Suddenly, Allie slammed against something hard, her vision blackening for an instant as her lungs struggled to pump oxygen to her brain.
Then she was flying back through the air, caught in the claws of a third dragon.
Allie struggled to break free as the dragon carried her toward Claire, who had been captured just as thoroughly as her.
Together they were dragged away from the caravan, their cries lost in the wind.
Before long, Allie’s vision became clouded as the dragons flew them above the clouds. Attempting to track the distance they were traveling by the velocity of the wind, she guessed they had traveled a number of miles away before the dragons began their descent.
When they finally dove below the clouds there was no way for her to determine which direction they had flown. The only landmark she could see was a range of mountains in the distance.
Soon enough, it became obvious that the range was their destination.
Are you okay? Allie thought, hoping Claire could interpret the message.
Claire whimpered in response, impressing on my mind an image of her fighting back.
Don’t, Allie thought. Not yet.
The dragons flew dangerously low as they approached the range, diving underneath the layer of fog and into the forest.
Allie’s feet nearly dragged across the forest floor as the dragons flew them through a clearing and into a cave cut into one of the mountains.
As the dragons entered the cave, they grew smaller, forcing Claire to grow smaller with them. By the time they finally landed on the smooth granite floor, they had become the same size as Allie.
“Welcome,” someone said, their voice echoing throughout the cave. “We’ve been waiting some time for you.”
Allie attempted to stand up straight once her dragon finally released her, but she collapsed to the ground, her legs like jelly.
“Why did you take me?” She asked, searching the darkness for the voice that spoke.
Suddenly, five people stepped out from the darkness, each with torches in hand. There were three men and two women, all of them young, their faces smooth in the light of their flames. The contours of dragons played in the light behind them.
“To give you a proper choice,” one of the women said, stepping forward.
Allie climbed back to her feet. Her legs shook, but she managed to keep her balance this time as she looked back at the five Immortals before her. “Choice between what?”
“Freedom and death,” the woman replied, her voice gentle.
Allie frowned in confusion. “Freedom.”
The woman smiled. “You know not what you say. You have already chosen to follow death. Now you must learn what it means to follow freedom.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Allie said as her legs regained their strength.
“You have chosen to follow Serenity,” the woman said. “The side of rules and death. We are her enemies; the Immortals of freedom and life. Serenity wishes to rule both humans and Immortals as our judge, but we do not recognize her authority.”
“And whose authority do you recognize?” Allie asked.
“We rule as we see fit,” one of the men replied, raising his torch. “We are gods to rule humans as we see fit. We answer to no one but each other. And for it, Serenity and her followers mean to deal us death.”
“And you are her follower,” the woman continued. “But you are also an Immortal, and deserve the chance to choose rightly.”
Allie’s heart beat faster. “What will you do to me if I choose Serenity?”
The woman frowned. “We will take your dragon and deliver your dead body to Serenity.”
“And if I choose you?” Allie asked.
“You would keep your dragon, and we would allow you to rule as you see fit,” the woman said. “However, we would first require you to help us kill Serenity, for there is no true freedom while she lives.”
“I thought you were about life,” Allie said. “Not death.”
“We’re about our own freedom,” the man said. “Our own life. She threatens both.”
Allie looked back at Claire’s whimpering form, still held by the jaws of a pair of dragons. She didn’t know what to think. The more she saw of both sides, the more uneasy she felt.
“You seem more hesitant than we expected,” the woman said, her voice questioning. “We know you ran from her in the city. Your choice should be easy.”
“I don’t want to kill her,” Allie said. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“It is she who hurts us,” the man said, his voice quivering with anger. “She must be stopped.”
“It’s her or us,” the woman insisted. “You must choose.”
Allie thought about all of the people in the caravan. All of the friends she was just beginning to make. The Immortals had more dragons than Serenity, especially now that Claire had been captured.
Serenity was a murderer, and the more Allie thought about it, the more she agreed that Serenity needed to be stopped, but she knew that people were going to get hurt if it came to an all-out fight.
“I’ll help you,” Allie said eventually, curling her hands into fists. “But only if we do it my way. We kill Serenity, and only Serenity. No one else.”
The woman looked to the others, each nodding in turn. “Done.”


When we discussed foreshadowing and payoffs in an earlier chapter, I talked about the rule of three; you must set something up twice before it can be knocked down.
This week, however, we’re covering a slightly different aspect of payoffs: Understanding = satisfaction
Now let’s first look at the prevalence of satisfaction. One could easily define a story as a series of cathartic moments. A chronological (usually) series of events that build tension for the expressed purpose of releasing said tension… or Satisfaction.
You introduce a character so the reader can become attached and care about what happens to them. And you give the reader context such as environment and supporting cast so they will better understand the events that happen to them.
Everything can be viewed through the lens of understanding for the sake of satisfaction. (or whatever lesson you may be attempting to impart)
So it is important to understand how to deliver on that satisfaction. To make those payoff moments as poignant as they can be. And you do this by delivering on understanding = satisfaction.

Let me give an example:

Let’s say your character is walking through the forest at night. Your character knows nothing about this forest and neither does your reader. He or she is scared, but makes their way through, eventually unscathed. It’s not until afterward that your reader finds out that the forest is full of blood-thirsty werewolves that regularly kill humans.
Result: You reader is mildly concerned, but when the character makes it through, their reaction is to be mildly relieved and to question whether it was silly or not to be worried.
However, if your reader knows that the forest is super dangerous beforehand, there will be a significantly increased reaction both when the character originally walks through and when they come out the other side.

Your reader needs enough of the facts beforehand that when it’s time for things to come to a climax, tension is built and released based on the events around the character, not explanations afterward or even during.

The events of this chapter were set into motion because I decided the reader needed to witness and learn about the Immortals attacking Serenity in order to appreciate what comes next in the story.
This exposure to the other side allows the reader to begin forming ideas in their head about how the story will come to a head.
We now understand, to some degree, all three sides of this potential conflict. Draco, Serenity, and the Immortals of freedom.
This, combined with everything else we know about this world, allows the reader to appreciate what comes next without confusion or distraction because they understand the context and consequences.
Understanding = Satisfaction.

Draco. Chapter 24. Taking a Breath.

The day after the fire we buried the girl’s mother along with the rest of the deceased townspeople.
The girl became non-responsive after that, unable to do anything but eat and stare at her old broken home.
Every so often I would try talking to her, asking her questions, but she never spoke a word. She rarely even made eye-contact with me.
Jade spent most of her time collecting food. Whenever she returned with an animal, she would shrink and keep her distance from the girl.
By the second day, I found myself getting anxious, unable to do what I needed to and unwilling to leave the girl alone.
Eventually, I decided to make myself useful, making my way toward the girl’s house. When I first started moving through the ashes her home, she tensed up, watching me with haunted eyes.
Very carefully, I began cleaning up her house, clearing out the ashes with my hands.
For a while she just watched me. And then, slowly, she joined me, scooping up the ashes in her tiny hands.
Together, we cleaned the house of the remains until there was nothing left but two walls and a makeshift bed.
As soon as it was done, the girl collapsed onto the bed, immediately falling asleep despite the still waning light of the sun setting over the mountains.
For a while I watched over her from a distance, fighting off the exhaustion threatening to overtake me.
As the moon began to peak out from behind the clouds, Jade returned with a rabbit in her jaws, dropping it next to me.
Mentally, she signaled that she’d already eaten for the day.
I nodded, lost in thought as I picked up the rabbit. Finally, I made a decision.
Leaving the rabbit behind, I impressed onto her the image if the three large rocks on the side of the mountain.
She nodded her head, prepared to take me there.
I felt guilty leaving the girl by herself for the night, but I held onto hope that would get back before she woke up.
Suddenly feeling rushed, I hopped on Jade’s back and had her fly to the rock formation near the top of the mountain.
The temperature dropped significantly as we rose through the fog, emerging into the crisp mountain sky. Snow covered every peak, dead trees lining most of the range.
It wasn’t long before Jade dropped down next to the room formation exactly where I took her before.
“Good girl,” I whispered, petting her neck.
“Rocks?” I asked, pointing to the three huge stones.
Jade grew a little larger and set her shoulder against one of the stones, showing it as hard as she could until it finally flipped onto its side. Behind it, a sliver of a hole was visible, the rest of it covered by the other stones.
I asked again for the second and third stone and she did the same thing, moving each one just enough that the hole was uncovered.
Altogether, the hole was about my size. I knew it would be. Marcus and I always had been about the same size and shape. At least, we had been until he lost himself.
By the time I found him he was already under Miguel’s care, withered and being used for entertainment along with another Immortal I’d never met. It was in the attempt to save them both that I found myself imprisoned along with them.
In the end, I wasn’t able to help them, but I had managed to communicate with Marcus the same way we communicate with our dragons. And over and over again he showed the same image; his dragon underneath three large stones.
“Go back to the town and watch over the girl,” I said, picturing the girl asleep in her bed. “I’ll meet you there when I can.”
Jade nudged her head against my hand before taking off, flying back down through the fog.
I let out a long sigh as she disappeared, safe from whatever dangers were to come.
I’d claimed countless dragons through the years, but rarely by myself.
“This could take a while,” I mumbled, beginning my slow crawl through the hole.


If you read a lot of books, then you know what it’s like to grow attached to a character in a story. In some cases, they may even seem more real to you than actual people.

How does that happen?

There are many reasons story characters feel real, some of which we’ve already discussed in previous chapters. But one of the best ways to make sure your character feels real (to both you and your readers) is to give them a life outside of the story.

The plot technically begins with the inciting incident, but your character begins long before that. (Recall that your character is the most important part)

So what is your character’s story before the plot?

What were his motivations?

What are her quirks and passions?

What would they be doing if they weren’t going through whatever they’re going through?

In Draco’s case, we’re still discovering all of these answers, and that’s largely what this chapter is about; Taking a breath with Draco before he moves the plot forward.

Surprisingly, these “breaths” are often what people remember most about stories. They allow us the chance to connect and commiserate with the characters, giving us an emotional connection to what we read.

This is why some of the greatest classical movies have such simple plots. They weren’t worried about coming up with some complicated story. They were determined to tell a character’s story and they told it well.
So take your time with your characters. Make them real. Don’t be afraid to give us moments with them. It’s those moments that your readers might remember forever.

(FYI, The format of this Blog/Novel is such that I have to move really quickly at times and don’t take nearly as many “moments” or breaths” as I normally would. Definitely take your time with yours.)

Allie. Chapter 23. Ideas are Cheap.

Allie awoke with a start, jostled by the sudden movement of her wagon. Faint wisps of light shone through her curtains. They had let her sleep in… again.
Sleep still in her eyes, she sat up in her seat and stretched as far as she could in the confines of her space. She’d been given her own wagon with its own driver. One of the smallest wagons, sure, but a wagon nonetheless.
For a moment she just sat there, running her fingers across the grain of the wood, amazed at her circumstances. The wagon was perfect for her; the hard floor reminiscent of her time living on the streets. Only now she was safe and fed. Now she mattered.
After wiping the sleep from her eyes, she threw open the door to the moving wagon and jumped out, jogging along to keep from falling over. The wagon was moving at a leisurely pace, but it was still quite the feat having just woken up. She had fallen the first couple times she’d tried it.
“Morning, Snore Queen,” her driver said with a wry smile. “Mother requests your presence whenever you’re ready.”
Allie smiled back as she kept pace with him. “You know, not a single person has confirmed your story.”
He nodded knowingly. “That’s because they’re too afraid to offend the great Queen of snores. I, on the other hand, know that you appreciate full and utter honesty.”
“You’re right. I do favor complete honesty, which is why I don’t trust you,” she said, winking.
Shean let out a hearty laugh, his eyes twinkling down at her. “If you want to prove me a liar, then have someone else drive you while you sleep. I swear they’ll back me up.”
Allie shrugged. “Maybe,” she said playfully. “But for now I’ll allow you to continue.”
“Oh thank you so very much, Mrs. Queen,” he said, putting emphasis on the fake title he’d given her.
Allie rolled her eyes as she slowed her pace, letting the wagons pass her by until the back of the caravan had caught up to her.
“Morning, miss Allie,” Olly called out when he saw her waiting for him.
“Hi, Olly,” Allie said cheerfully as she hopped in the back with her pigs. As soon as she landed, the pigs gathered around her, snorting happily.
“Careful of the mud,” Olly yelled over his shoulder. “We just picked some up not too long ago. Don’t want to get your dress all messed up.”
“I’m not worried about a little dirt,” she said as the pigs rubbed mud all over her legs. “I lived in mud for years.”
Olly shook his head but kept his eyes forward on the rest of the caravan. “It’s still weird. An Immortal shouldn’t be living with pigs.”
“But it was okay when I wasn’t an Immortal?” Allie asked indignantly.
“No,” Olly said uncomfortably. “It’s just weird is all.”
Allie let it go, focusing on her pigs instead, cooing at them as they tussled between themselves to be close to her. Feeling whimsical, she eventually sang them a song, making up the words as she went. Halfway through, Olly joined in with her, harmonizing beautifully.
“I knew you could sing,” Allie said afterward.
Olly shrugged. “Not as good as you.”

After a while, Allie jumped the pig cart and jogged to catch up with the front of the caravan.
“You look terrible!” Shean yelled as Allie ran by. “See how honest I am?”
Allie chuckled, but didn’t give him the satisfaction of looking back, focused on making her way to the front.
Leading the entire caravan was Serenity, walking in front of her wagon with Frank at her side. As Allie approached them, a train of kids ran in front of her, their laughter echoing across the open plains.
“How did you sleep?” Serenity asked as Allie took her place by her side.
Allie shrugged. “Pretty good,” she said honestly. “I like the hard floor.”
Serenity smiled. “To each their own. Are you ready for today’s lesson?”
Allie straightened her posture, subconsciously mirroring Serenity. “Ready.”
“Look the part,” Serenity said succinctly, staring down at Allie’s dress. The entire bottom half was caked in mud, the hem dragging on the ground.
Allie blushed. “I was visiting my pigs.”
“It’s possible to visit pigs without rolling around with them,” Serenity said tersely. “And that’s a line you have to walk as a god.”
“I didn’t roll around with them,” Allie huffed, “they just rubbed off on me.”
“Exactly the point,” said Serenity. “Gods should be set apart from their subjects. We were chosen to administer justice. To do so requires a certain hardness of heart…”
“And if we spend too much time with someone,” Allie finished, “we may not have the heart to serve them justice.”
“Good…” Serenity started to say before cutting herself off. Suddenly, Serenity dropped to her knees, signaling for the rest of the caravan to stop.
Allie and Frank knelt next to her, their faces drawn on in concern.
“Mother,” Allie started to say when Serenity suddenly let out a scream.
“What’s going on?” Allie asked, looking to Frank, who merely shook his head in confusion.
“Geleo,” Serenity whispered, her voice hoarse. “Someone’s taken him.”
Frank’s eyes widened in shock, finally understanding. “The dragons are solitary hunters,” he explained to Allie. “They’re all out separately right now, hunting for food. Geleo must have run into trouble…”
Suddenly, Serenity screamed again, pounding her fist against the ground. “No! Xaniu!”
Frank sat back on his heels, stunned as Allie looked between them in confusion.
“Something happened to both of them?” She asked, feeling lost.
Eventually, Serenity rose from her knees, tear streaks staining her face. She looked as if she was teetering on the edge of sanity as she looked Allie in the eyes. “They were waiting for them,” she said. “They were hooded, unrecognizable, but they had dragons. They took Geleo and Xaniu separately.”
“Who are they?” Allie asked in a whisper.
Frank’s jaw set, his fists clenched as Serenity answered.
“Immortals,” she whispered. “We’re being hunted by Immortals.”


Ideas are cheap. There is pretty much nothing you can write that hasn’t already been written, and chances are, it’s already been written about a thousand times.

A good storyteller can take anything and make it interesting. And a bad storyteller can take anything interesting and make it bad. And if you’ve proven you’re a good writer, it doesn’t matter what the premise of your other books are, people will read it.

However, good ideas can sell your story. Because even though every story has basically already been told, if you can come up with a compelling twist to an old story, it will sell.

Example: Hunger Games.

Dystopian future where kids are forced to fight to the death for food… yeah I’ll read that. Every part of that series has already been done countless times, but the combination of fighting to the death and a dystopian future is genius.

She didn’t have to be a good writer to sell that story, because that idea is compelling. It doesn’t mean the story will be good, it just means it will sell, and companies like that. That’s how you get your foot in the door. (I will address how to come up with good ideas like that in another chapter)

So how do you write original stories? Its the age-old struggle. You want to be original, but that’s basically impossible. So it’s a very good thing that you don’t actually need to be original. You need to be authentic.

Write what you want to write, and if you’re a good writer, your story will be good. The key here is that if you are a good writer, you will be able to take old stories and concepts and make them your own. Not original, but real.

Example: This story

There’s nothing new about medieval setting with dragons. Nothing original about writing about Immortals. There are several stories out there literally named “The Immortals.” I looked it up. But I took old stories and had fun with them. I linked the Immortals to dragons. I gave them Achilles heels. I made the dragons blind underground creatures. I enabled creatures to be linked to humans and change their sizes just like pocket monsters.

I didn’t decide all of these things all at once; I just had fun with it precisely to show that you can write a good story without relying on some sort of brilliant new idea.

So just write and keep writing until you’re good at it. Then you can write anything you want.

(But if you want to know how to make a story that sells, stay tuned)

Draco. Chapter 22. Yes, But. No, And.

My throat was on fire, my skin burnt as we finally approached the foothills of the mountain range.
I could sense Jade’s resolve stiffening as we walked side by side. There was still sadness within. And hurt, but it was hidden alongside past pain long-forgotten, weathered over and callused. It was time.
I imaged flight to Jade, posing it as a question. In response, Jade stretched out her wings, prepared to take us the rest of the way to the mountain town. Our mourning period was finished by necessity. We needed food and water.
I climbed on her back as she grew in size, ensuring stability on takeoff, and seconds later we were gone, flying over the hills and into the mountain range.
A layer of fog still engulfed the mountains, though it wasn’t as thick as when they flew through it before. Night quickly approached as we wound our way through, the lack of light becoming more dangerous with each passing moment.
It was only through Jade’s keen senses that we managed to find the little mountain town from before.
As soon as Jade sensed the town, she began her descent through the fog. I was still blind as we touched town outside of the town. For some reason the fog seemed thicker here, and darker.
Alarms went off in my mind as I slid off Jade’s back. Mentally, I told her to stay hidden as I crept closer to the town, feeling my way across the cracked ground.
Slowly, the outline of the town homes room shape, appearing through what I now identified as smoke, not fog.
Suddenly in the thick of the smoke, I tore off my shirt and wrapped it around my face, protecting my nose and mouth as I approached the homes.
Once close enough to see the whole picture, my heart quickened with fury. Every house in the town lay in ruin, the foundations burned to ashes. Embers were still lit amongst the rubble, smoke mingling with the fog.
Suddenly frantic, I searched about for the bodies of the townspeople, hoping beyond hope that they were alive despite the complete stillness of the scene.
In the first of the twelve homes, I found two bodies, neither of them whole. I carried them out of the house anyway, laying them in a row in the center of the town.
In the second house, I found one adult and one child. Aching, I laid them with the others and moved on to the next.
In the fifth home, I found Esme, who had taken us in the night before. Her face was half burnt, but it was clearly her. As soon as I recognized her, I dropped to my knees, shaking with despair, but my sense of duty prevailed.
Sobbing, I carried her out to the others, distracting myself with the task of caring for the dead. Questions threatened to overtake me as I carried out body after body.
A part of me didn’t understand why Miguel had done this. But another part of me knew. I’d known for a long time now. In this World, evil wins and suffering prevails. But what I had done to deserve an eternity of this, I didn’t know.
Then I checked the tenth home, prepared to carry more dead bodies to the center of town when I heard something from the inner room.
Startled to attention, I carefully picked my way around the rubble, searching for the source of the noise. What I found was another body of a woman, moving despite the horrible wounds across her back.
Scarcely daring to hope, I carefully turned her on her back, checking for vitals. There were none, but underneath her lay a child. A little girl sobbing as quietly as she dared, her eyes shut tight.
At the sight of the girl, I let out an involuntary sob, overcome with relief and sorrow. Without saying a word, I gently picked her up, holding her in my arms.
It wasn’t until I’d lifted her off the ground that she finally opened her eyes, looking down at the woman at my feet.
“Mommy,” she whimpered, stretching her arms toward her dead mother.
“I’ll come back for her, okay?” I said, trying to stifle my sobs. “Let’s just get you somewhere safe first.”
The girl shut her eyes once more despite stretching out her arms even farther, continuing to cry out for her mom.
I let my tears fall as I carried the girl through her broken home. The girl knew. She knew her mom was gone, but she called out anyway, crying to be held by her one last time. I knew what that was like.
As we emerged from her home, the moonlight illuminated the girls’ ashen face, half-cleared by her tears.
Mentally, I called Jade to me and asked her to watch over the girl as I darted back inside the house to get her mom. Moments later I reappeared with her mother and laid her at the girls’ feet.
The girl never stopped crying as she threw herself on top of her mother, hugging her with all the force she could muster.
Torn, I left them there to finish gathering the bodies. Not a single other person was alive. All told, I counted twenty-six bodies. Eighteen adults and eight kids, all dead at the hands of my dragon.
Limp with devastation, I eventually sat beside the girl and her mother, watching the girl empty herself of tears.
Hunger. Thirst. All feeling was distant from me in that moment, but my survival instincts were too strong to ignore. Reluctantly, I sent Jade to search for food as I sat beside the girl, gently laying a hand on her shoulder.
We stayed there the entire night. Some of the time we were silent. Other times we both cried until we couldn’t anymore.
By the time Jade returned, the girl had slipped into shock, wearing blank expressions as she ate and drank what was offered her. And then we slept.


Yes, but…

No, and…

Two huge concepts to learn regarding plots. We’ve explored a couple of ways to go about plotting a story, and we’ll definitely explore more as we move forward, but it’s important to first understand the core of a plot in of itself.

Stories are about struggle. They’re about how human beings respond to struggle; about heartbreak and redemption.

Every other aspect of storytelling is in service of this concept of the human struggle. So the question is posed: how do we create compelling tension (struggle) in our story?

Yes, but…

No, and…

Stories are often structured as: make a plan, execute that plan. That’s great and dandy, but if that’s all it is, your story is in trouble. This has to do with expectation vs. delivery, entertainments value, etc. concepts we’ve already discussed.

So here is a good way to make sure that formulaic method of plan vs. Execution provided good and meaningful tension:

Either use “Yes, but” or “No, and”

I want to get free of this prison…

YES, I can be free of this prison, BUT I have to give up my dragon

I want to keep my dragon…

NO, AND I’m going to be left behind and indirectly get almost everyone in this town killed

This is how you make sure your story always has tension. It’s making sure your character has to make difficult decisions and provide for us a meaningful story experience.

“Yes, and” is too easy. (Yes, I get to go free and I get my dragon back! Hurray!)

“No, but” is, you guessed it, still too easy. (No, you don’t get your dragon back, but here’s a free ice cream sundae on the house – not how the World usually works)

So what I’m saying is that when you’re plotting your story, but your character through the wringer.

More suffering = more redemption = more compelling