How to Engage Your Dragons

Have you ever picked up something to read, whether for a class, for pleasure, or simply out of boredom, and then found that with each word you felt like you were losing the will to live? As if the fire was being sucked out of your very soul? Nobody should ever have to experience that. It is honestly one of the worst feelings in the world, right up there with getting prodded at with a javelin and choking on dry bread.  Like come on, it is not a sin to make content exciting. Not to call out textbooks or anything, but would it kill the writers to include some dramatic flair in “The Processes of the Cerebral Cortex?” Why even write something so uninteresting, so unengaging. This is the warning I want to give to all writers, new and old; Engage your Dragons, please!

Dragons can be… problematic, to say the least. See, when dragons get bored, they eat you. End of story. To prevent such an untimely demise, you must engage them. Catch their interest, make them laugh, or, at the very least, give them a reason to keep you around. I am positive that most of us have, at one time or another, written something as dreadful as anything we could find in an instruction manual. More than likely this was a school assignment you did not care about or an equally forced piece of nonsense. Such travesties are what I call “bad writing.” I have never met a dragon that is pleased by bad writing, and I have had my hair singed more than once by assuming otherwise. So, what did I do to prevent more fire from coming my way; I started producing “good writing.”

At this point, I am sure you are saying, “Tristan, Tristan, I don’t want to get eaten by dragons! How do I stop producing ‘bad writing?’” Well, my answer to you is this:


Every dragon is different, and not every writer is suited to write for every dragon. The key is to find out which dragons you are a fit to write for and then write for them. If you like edgy fantasy, do not worry about writing for the dragons that obsess over romantic comedies, just focus on satisfying your edgy fantasy dragons and they will keep you safe from the romantic comics.

“But Tristan, Tristan, what if the Dragons don’t like my edgy fantasy?” Well, that is a good question. Simply writing for your dragons’ interest is not enough to make your writing good. I know that I have made out dragons to be kind of harsh, and some are, but if you are trying to write for them, they’ll be more than willing to communicate their needs before frying you up and eating you for a late brunch. As a writer, one of the best ways to please your dragons is to communicate with them. Allow yourself to recognize your mistakes and rewrite your story. You still will not get a perfect story, but if you keep communicating with your dragons, they will eat out of the palm of your hand instead of eating the hand itself.

“Tristan, I still don’t get it… if the Dragons don’t like my story, how will rewriting it make it better? After all, am I not just telling the same tale again?” The secret here is perspective. Often, when we write a piece, we put a lot of ourselves into it. This can make your writing more meaningful to you than to your dragons. If you follow my last piece of advice and listen to your dragons, you can learn to see the story through their perspectives. You have to see your piece again in a new light. We call this revision, literally “to see again,” but this time, through your dragon’s eyes. As you learn more about your dragons, through communication, you will continue to grow in your ability to see through their eyes, and when you can finally revise a piece for them, you will have their full engagement. You will never leave a dragon feeling the way you did when you read the footnotes of that article on “The Wonders of Adolescents.” And I believe that is something we should all strive to never do again.