Nearly seven years ago, I had an idea spark in my mind. I think I was cleaning the kitchen when it happened. I had an idea for a story about a boy who turned into a dragon.
If you’ve known me for a long time, you possibly know about this dragon boy. I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about him on the blog, but basically, this kid is named Drake Elliot (the first name was a purposeful dragon reference, the surname was an accident) and originally he was cursed to turn into a dragon every night.
I have been struggling to write Drake for seven years. Though I suppose it’s more like six because the very first draft was easy to write. I had a friend who talked some sense into me instead of letting me attempt to get that draft published, thank God, but pretty much ever since I’ve been trying to write this story at least subconsciously.
One thing that has stayed the same in most of the variations is Drake’s best friend, Max. Max has gone through several variations himself, but one thing that has always been true is that he is loyal to Drake. That and his bird-watching obsession.
Drake has stayed mainly the same. His name got a bit of a change, he has gained family members that he didn’t have in the original, but for the most part, he’s always been a red head with green eyes and dragonic powers.
But one thing that hasn’t been the same about Drake is his character arc. The original story had no such thing and it’s one of the elements that have caused Drake to be a bit of a thorn in my writerly side. I have had so much trouble figuring out who this kid is, what makes him tick, and what ticks him off.
I had a bit of a revelation. I realized that the person I’ve been trying to nail with Drake is basically Dan Howell. Sarcastic. Dark. Sardonic. And yet, incredibly sweet and flawed underneath all that. Max was quite easy to identify as Phil Lester, as both are absolute cinnamon rolls too good, too pure for this world.
The funny thing is that I didn’t even know who Dan and Phil really were until a few weeks ago. Dan and Phil’s videos and their friendship make me so incredibly happy that it actually makes me sad if I think about it too hard and long. That there are two people who love each other that much (and it’s a platonic love) on this earth is nothing short of amazing.
But I didn’t write this post to fangirl over Dan and Phil.
I’ve realized something furthermore about Drake. Maybe his story has evolved as I’ve needed it to, subconsciously. They say write what you want to read. What if I’ve been writing Drake according to what I needed to hear or needed to say or felt I needed in my real life but couldn’t get? To an extent, is Drake’s story a tool of catharthis or a chance for me to live a completely magical but different life vicariously? (This is starting to turn into “why do you write” and I’m just going to stop here.)
Drake’s original story was a fun adventure. Every incarnation (or partial incarnation, I should say, since none but the orginals have ever been completed) since has had many variations with different focuses and styles and attempts at plot. And now, as I consider that I want Drake and Max to have such a strong friendship that it’s hard for people to not see it as romantic, I wonder if it’s because I’ve been lonely. As I consider that I might age them up to college age (late teens), is it because I’ve aged too? Because I’ve changed, have they changed?
I wonder that, if I’m still struggling to write Drake’s story in a few years, will he be possibly aged up again to his twenties. Everytime I consider making him older, things happen to the story. The audience changes. How the plot happens changes. Some of the things Drake does changes. Things I consider canon (I’m the author; everything is canon) come into question again. Even subject matter comes into question, whether that’s if I’ll let a teenage Drake swear or if I’ll make him go through something like depression.
It’s a complicated mess to try and sort out what I want to happen and what has happened and what I consider unchangable. Which actually sums up my current life pretty well and further supports the idea that Drake and Max change to fit what I need.
I only wish I had a Max to help me figure it out. You’re pretty lucky, Drake.