DragonLight Day 2

I thought I'd provide some cute dragons

I was going to discuss the topic of characterization and dialogue, but having read the other blogs, and those who commented to my first post, I realize the the overwhelming majority really loved DragonLight, and thus love the characterization and dialogue. So I find myself in a small minority and have decided to do a different topic. I think my being a male steeped in traditional epic/heroic fantasy created a chasm between my tastes and the tastes of so many others who enjoyed this book.

Keeping Tension

Recognizing DragonLight was a light, perhaps young adult fantasy best suited for females, I still feel the potential for high drama was repeatedly defeated by the continual imputation of the ordinary. But even more, when the action is on, the reader has to feel the main characters are in danger. If the author is clearly allowing them to jump over hurdles without stumbling and falling, then the reader will not feel the necessary fear that drives him to keep reading. It must appear as if the heroes might be defeated. They must work hard to stay alive.

Chapter 16 lends a perfect example:

In a scene where Kale and Bardon battle some rouges called bisonbecks one feels the entire time a confidence that the author will keep the husband and wife team safe and sound. Here's an extreme example when Reddig, an angry bisonbeck goes after Kale while her husband Bardon looks on.
Reddig turned and rushed toward Kale. She took one step back, and where she had been standing, a broad column shimmered. But the bisonbeck did not have time to stop. He ran into the barrier and stuck as if he had been a fly swatted onto a windowpane. His face pressed against the invisible surface, distorted his features. He struggled to get free but could not back up.
The two remaining bisonbecks growled low in their throats, and they circled Kale. Bardon leaned against a tree and crossed his arms.
"Bad idea, fellas," he said as he examined his fingernails.

The above scene reads like a Mel Brooke's film, but this book isn't a slap-stick comedy. We have no fear for the hero and heroine. It's clear from how the action is told that we don't need to take the threats seriously. The husband leans against a tree, inspects his fingernails and says, "Bad Idea, fellas." From here on out, the message is clear that the reader need not be in suspense when something dangerous is looming.

Picture the first Matrix movie and its sequel. When Neo is learning his ability to fight the computer, its an incredible challenge and we fear for his safety the entire time, but then there is the scene in the second movie when thousands of agents attack him, and he defeats them with out breaking a sweat (he almost looks bored). At that point, you loose your audience. Either that is the end of the story, or you've just down-played every possible action scene that follows it.

Again, this is just my opinion. I know what you all are thinking...Brandon, why don't you go read your dumb Conan books and stop being so nit-picky! Well fine--by Crom--I'll do just that.

Please! Stop by tomorrow for a discussion on Male/Female tastes in literature!


CherryBlossomMJ said...

Love the pictures.

Brandon Barr said...

Ha :)
Secretly...so do I.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandon, I agree with you in principal, but I think you're looking for a different kind of story than the one Donita wrote. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. There were unbelievable escapes, to the point that threats stopped looking like threats. Or here's a better one – Princess Bride. There is a comedic casualness to fights and danger and only the briefest sense of doubt or worry that all may not be well in the end.

Again I'll say, I think it is a different type of fantasy than the one you're looking for, which is why it may not have felt satisfying.

Rather than distracting or seeming out of place, the clothes changing and cuddly little dragons add to the light-hearted aspect of the story. These are ways readers know not to take it all too seriously.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

OK, I thought of this right after I hit Publish.

My question for you is, Can men ever like "chick fantasy"? LOL But seriously, here's what I'm thinking. I love epic fantasy, as I mentioned in my comment to your last post, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this light fantasy.

I've often included Princess Bride--another light fantasy--as one of my favorite movies. So really, do guys have the ability to look beyond their preferred genre and enjoy something that is aiming to tell a feel-good story? Or must it be the real deal?

I know, I know. I'm asking you to make a statement for your whole gender. But since you've said the DragonKeeper books are for women and young children, I'm wondering if you're saying there is a Man-type book. LOL

I'm not trying to get in a gender fight, seriously. I do think guys like movies and evidently books that women don't particularly care for. And guys aren't known to like the tender and sweet type of movies.

Yet those same guys, might they read Winnie the Pooh to their own children?

And turning the corner a bit, in your opinion, is Aslan too cuddly?

Just asking.


Brandon Barr said...

I loved your questions! They'll definitely take some thought. I will devote tomorrow's post on answering them, so come back Manana!

Robert Treskillard said...

Rebecca ... yes us guys can enjoy this kind of book (I did), but I still saw who it was written for and would have enjoyed it more with action and fear built in.

Aslan is NOT cuddly.

Winnie-There-Pooh! Yeah!

Princess Bride is funny. I think that helped save DragonLight too.

Donita K. Paul said...

Hello, Brandon.
You are right. When I wrote the first book, DragonSpell, I thought my audience was young teens, young GIRL teens. But the market guys at the publishing house, said no. All ages.
This proved to be true. I was flabbergasted that most of my reader mail was from guys. The book also sold better in secular stores than in Christian Fiction Bookstores. That was true for three years. Now it is about even. This is what I think is significant about that. Christian parents and booksellers didn't trust fantasy. After word of mouth, some decided to "chance it" and bought DragonSpell. It doesn't offend, so they began to talk about it.
Now I get emails from guys and gals, young people (I'm 8 and I'm a good reader and my big brother let me read his book.)missionaries, soldiers in Iraq (guy soldiers, Brandon. The ones that see Conan type slaughter happening around them) grandparents, pastors, and one guy who works in a rehab home for teens who hates the fact that his boys like the books. He begrudgingly admitted that they spouted Wulder's principles, and not to just make fun of them. It was like (he said) they'd found some kind of off beat honor system they could buy into.
One more thing. My son (age 30 and a long time D&D gamer) gave me a Conan book in hopes of improving my battle scenes.
*sigh* It obviously did not work.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Robert,
Thanks for stopping in and proving that all guy's tastes are not the same. I also think Aslan is not cuddly, but as he calls himself, quite "dangerous".

I'm very honored you wrote on my blog! I hope my posts haven't completely annoyed you. I'm a writer too (an amatuer trying to make it in this big world), and I know how little encouragement one gets as a writer. Usually everyone is critical, and they can seriously wear one down. So please know that my blog is just my own personal tastes, and obviously the vast majority doesn't share them!
I deeply respect you as a writer, and as a trailblazer. If your ever doing a book signing in the Redlands, California area, I'll be there! I regard you very highly.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandon, as a matter of fact, Donita is involved in the Motiv8 Fantasy Tour coming to the West Coast early in October. There are a couple dates set aside for the LA area, so you can plan an outing and come meet Donita and the other seven authors. Talk it up, too. This is going to be covered well by the media, but word of mouth is still the best way to get people interested.

James Somers has info about it in his CSFF tour post.


Brandon Barr said...

Oh, Cool! I'll plan on going. Are you going Rebecca? Your a SoCal girl. Let me know, maybe we can say "hi".

Donita K. Paul said...

No, Brandon, you didn't completely annoy me. But I have a t-shirt for you. It says: Look wise, say nothing, and eat only those who annoy you. Send me your snail mail address donitakpaul@msn.com and I'll send you one. I hope you are a large or XL because those are the sizes I've got left.
I would love to meet you when we come to the West Coast. Remember you are going to be meeting a grandma. That's all I've ever claimed to be on this writing journey.