I Lost My Dragon

This is NOT my dragon.
This is NOT my dragon.

OK so I’m writing this fantasy story, right? And it’s cruising along, I’m doing great; everything is going great. It’s really flowing.

(Recently we discussed ways to be extra productive HERE)

And I had – very early on – I thought: what’s a fantasy? You want to have a castle and a prince and a knight in shining armor… a witch and a sorcerer…

And I thought, oh! Maybe a dragon!

So, time goes by and I’m 60,000 words into it now. I have the romance angle for the story and I have all these great plot twists, and I mentioned to my Critique Partner (yes, it was Allison) that when they go to burn the witch at the stake, she’s going to turn into a dragon and fly way.

Great right? Plot twist! Who’d see that coming?

Also not my dragon
Also not my dragon

I even set it up with a talk about The Inquisition and how they used to burn witches and sorcerers at the stake but that it was BS, that they really just burned dissidents at the stake and uppity folks; heretics and women who could read. Heck, they pretty much burned anybody at the stake. If they were bored on a Friday night, they’d be like, “Hey, yonder cometh Silas; friend, who can we burn?” And Silas was all like, “Ye know what? Nathan hath been bugging me lately…”

It’s how they rolled.

STILL not my dragon
STILL not my dragon

So I thought great, we will have a scene where a witch goes to get burned at the stake and instead she conjures up a magic spell and turns into a dragon and flies away.

Now, I am all set. Plotter. I got my Dragon subplot. I got everything.

I mention this to my critique partner who says, “Well you may lose some people there, with that turning into a dragon thing.” (Again, it was Allison. There’s a dragon in her story – that new Drake And The Fliers thing. She gets to keep her dragon, but I don’t get to keep mine.)

But she is a trusted CP so when she said having people suddenly turn into dragons was not consistent with the world I’d created in my story, I thought: Hmm…

So I mentioned the idea to my wife. “At the last second, as the witch is getting burned at the stake, she turns into a dragon and torches her torchers!”

I could TOTALLY see the scene in my head!
I could TOTALLY see the scene in my head!


My wife scrunched up her nose – you know, she gave me that look, the wife look.

And I thought: Hmm…

So… maybe nobody turns into a dragon in my story.


And then what?

And then nothing, because I was gonna have this whole part where they chase the dragon and hunt it down… and now I don’t have a dragon. I was gonna have like 30,000 more words in the story, but now that it’s dragon-free, it’s…. it’s…

It’s almost finished.

Because there’s no goddamn Dragon.

THIS is my dragon. and my soul
THIS is my dragon.
and my soul

Oh, and in deference to Emily, there’s no ball with frilly dresses, either!

(Well, there is, but it gets messed up, and, well, I don’t want to give too much away, but they probably burn somebody at the stake over it.)

So, no dance, no Dragon, no extra 30,000 words in my story.

And like I said, that means it’s basically almost finished. Which means if I was smart I would jump on that horse and ride and finish the story.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

So I won’t be around that much this week because I’m gonna jump on that horse and ride and finish the story!

Wish me luck.

Actually, wish me a dragon. I really liked the Dragon part.

Don’t Be So Dramatic! Or DO. Dramatic Irony For Fun And Profit

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnn! DRAMATIC IRONY!

Which is what, exactly?

Beats me.

But I have smart friends, and one of them, Allison Maruska, bestselling author of The Fourth Descendant, recently posted on her blog about ways to use Dramatic Irony to increase tension in your story.

See, it’s all ball bearings nowadays, guys tension, guys! And if we can throw in a few additional tension-enhancing elements, it helps the story a LOT.

fletchBy having a discussion about this with Allison, my critique partner (to learn more about the value of critique partners, click HERE), I realized that (A) I had a few places I could add dramatic irony in my current story and (B) it was probably set to happen in  few upcoming scenes, and (C) I had just written a scene where it basically had just happened! I just didn’t realize a scene could be enhanced that way, so I would have/nearly missed the chance! It was 90% there already, it just needed a tweak.

Bestselling author, friend and critique partner Allison Maruska
Bestselling author, friend and critique partner Allison Maruska

She helped me see the dramatic irony light, which will make those passages in my story a lot more fun for readers.

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Here’s Allison explaining the whole dramatic irony thing as only she can.

Enjoy. I did.


Have you read a story where the character knew everything that was going on and merely went through a checklist to solve the problem?

I certainly hope not, because that would be boring as hell.

No matter the genre, we read stories to see how the main character emerges victoriously (or not). Does the detective solve the crime? Does the waitress capture the heart of the famous patron? Will the elf/goblin find the mystical gem and save the kingdom from certain annihilation?

If the character knows in the beginning how to conquer the challenges, there would be no story. In a typical narrative, the characters don’t know what to do, and neither do we, the readers. Tension arises through conflict and complications and the unknown. Include those, and you’re more likely to write a page-turner.

Credit: Jokeroo.com

But if you want to turn your tension up even more, throw in some dramatic irony.

*insert collective groan as everyone remembers their high school literature classes*

Stay with me. Do this right, and your book will keep people up at night. Yay for creating drowsy drivers!

Dramatic irony happens when the audience knows something the characters don’t. Instead of exploring the dark cave with the MC and discovering the monster with him, we know the monster is there and brace ourselves for when the MC finds it. Dramatic irony causes readers/viewers to do this: Don’t do it!!

Or if we’re writing a romance, maybe this: Go for it! He likes you!!

Yes, everyone studied dramatic irony in high school. No one remembers, because high school literature classes have a magical gift of taking something interesting and turning it into a snore fest. Take, for example, the most famous example of dramatic irony: Romeo and Juliet.

We were all forced to translate Shakespearean and read this classic. It’s easy to tell who did their homework. Those who think it’s a basis for all love stories did not – unless they think all love stories should end in a suicide pact.

But it wasn’t really that, was it? Juliet took the “look I’m dead” potion, but Romeo thought she was really dead. We knew more than Romeo, and we watched in horror as he offed himself in despair…

To continue reading, please click HERE


Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.