Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Writer’s Guide
Healing Your Hero or Heroine

Mood disorders are all the rage for characters in fiction these days. But how do you lift your melancholy heroine out of the doldrums when she meets the man (or woman) of her dreams? Yes, your equivalent to Prince Charming might be “all that,” but, let’s face it, even romance novels don’t rely on Mr. Tall-Dark-N-Handsome to come to the rescue completely nowadays. Your gal has to stand on her own.

Let’s look at it realistically. What heals depression in real life? Sunshine, laughter, exercise, proper sleep, and proper nutrition are the biggies. So let Jack and Jill (or Jill and Susan, if you prefer) go on a picnic in the sun. Let them eat farm-raised salmon, which has the all-important Omega-3 fatty acid without the stigma of supporting the commercial fishing industry, and laugh through some rousing dialogue that gets your readers laughing along with them. (Other nutrition ideas can be found at That’s just one example, but I think you get the idea: heal your heroine realistically.

Jill can’t miraculously snap out of what appeared to be bipolar or manic depressive disorder because Jack professed his undying love. Finding love might be one step on Jill’s path to health and happiness, but there have to be others. Show the other steps to make her transformation into a spunky, happy character believable. In my fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, Chariss doesn't make her grand entrance as this fancy, powerful, well-adjusted, let's-go-kill-the-bad-guys warrior. No, the chick is flawed. Sure, she's great and her wizard guardian would have a conniption if he heard me say otherwise, but she doesn't believe in herself (flaw #1) and she's not in the habit of standing up for herself (flaw #2) and she tries to convince her mentor to flee again when all the signs are there to stay put (flaw in judgment), but just watch this character arc. It sweeps you through the book (that and a few other plotlines). And that's what you have to do with your heroes and heroines. You have to make them go through an arc that is believable. I couldn't just turn Chariss into a god-smackin' empress overnight. I had to show the reader how she came into her role gently (but pretty quickly because I only had 417 pages to do it).

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fifteen years and is the author of the new fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available from

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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