As I have previously mentioned Prince Luan was the product of a wealthy family that carelessly indulged his every whim and desire when he was a young boy. They produced a spoiled self-absorbed young man who had no patience and was quick to throw flaring temper tantrums. To safe guard the innocent that Luan might harm I introduce in this post the last type of characters in my story – the Warrior Dragons.
Luan’s behavior may be commonplace in what we call the civilized part of the world where parents in their misdirection look to wealth and power as the major goals in their life instead of incorporating love and discipline into their family structure. The people of the Princess’ the kingdom were completely surprised by Luan’s behavior, in fact they were stunned. Before he made his second visit the Emperor and the High Council turned to the Dragon Council for help since they expected another confrontation from Luan.
You may remember from earlier posts that the dragons of this land took care of the people giving them wise advise and counsel but since they were gentle peace-loving creatures they were no match for heavily armed soldiers. Fortunately the earliest dragon councils knew of the evil tendencies that humans can exhibit and provided for the possibility of cruelty by creating a group of dragons that could protect the weak.
These Warrior Dragons were trained in the martial arts and carried simple but deadly weapons. They didn’t belong to any of the regional dragon communities but traveled in groups of three throughout the different areas of this country much like rangers. At the sign of danger they positioned themselves in a triad attack formation ready to go into action. Then when they attacked they moved with such blinding speed and violence they created an assault that was so ferocious that no one ever survived.
The emperor and his council were stunned when Prince Luan presented the long lost contract that the emperor’s father had signed seventy-five years ago. As they realized that they couldn’t repay the loan and Prince Luan would take Princess Leizu as payment they were paralyzed. When the dragons saw that the emperor and his council couldn’t decide what to do the Dragon Council was assembled to address the situation. They wanted to see if the legal dragons could find any discrepancy in the contract, unfortunately they couldn’t so they went home leaving The Littlest Dragon by himself. At this point the Old Dragon Sage reenters the story and gives The Littlest Dragon some of the most important advice of his life.
It is times like this when all hope seems to vanish that we have the opportunity to learn about our character, our courage and our resolve. The dilemma is used as an opportunity to reveal and reinforce the value of learning how to lead a positive optimistic approach to life. To introduce and affirm one of the most important principles that Napoleon Hill ever taught, the insight “That with every failure and defeat comes with that situation a seed of equal or greater importance.”
I find that by taking this approach one can begin the process of stepping back from the tragedy rather than being swept away by the pain, shock and hopeless confusion that it can bring. It allows us to switch from reacting subjectively to the situation to one where we can begin to evaluate it objectively. It puts the mind in gear to look for some benefit from the horrific situation, at times there are many. By looking at the information that we encounter and learning how to filter it by the possibilities that we can take rather than by necessities we begin to see that very rarely is there a situation without hope or benefit.
The Emperor and his Council were bewildered and dishearten after Prince Luan stormed out. They couldn’t fathom how they had gotten into this predicament and the thought of loosing Princess Leizu was devastating. It was like they were in the worst nightmare that you can imagine and not being able to wakeup, they were paralyzed. They didn’t know what to do next. Because the Emperor and Council could not seem to resolve the situation, the dragon community felt that they must intervene and the Grand Dragon Council was called to assemble.
Chinese dragons are very organized and methodical creatures. They have an unwavering respect for history, fairness, and tradition. The law was the law but, at times, agreements could be open to interpretation, so the best legal-minded dragons brought their books and records and began their review. Groups were formed to analyze every sentence of the agreement. Great debates ensued. After what seemed like days of deliberations, they concluded that the agreement was, in fact, legal and must be obeyed. They concluded their meeting and went home in dismay.
The Littlest Dragon was stunned. He had such respect for his elders especially the Grand Dragon Council and when they concluded their meeting without a solution he didn’t know what to do, then he remembered the insights of the wise Old Dragon Sage. He left immediately to search the mountains to find him.
It’s interesting the way my stories seem to evolve and morph as I write and go through revision. When I first wrote The Littlest Dragon and the Princess I knew that there was a neighboring Prince who had come to collect a debt from a loan that was made to the Princess’ grandfather. The scene was rather dry, unemotional and woody. As I rewrote Prince Luan’s arrival the scene exploded; much more was revealed about the prince’s character. The original appearance of a couple of messengers turned into a showy procession of drummers and mounted soldiers followed by the Prince on a very large horse. It became a grand gaudy procession; Luan had grown into a very arrogant and bossy character.
After being lead to the council’s chambers by the Princess and the Littlest Dragon he became rude, disrespectful and demanding. When the council had verified the loan document was authentic they were devastated; they asked for more time to repay the money. At this point to my amazement Luan’s character came alive and took over the scene from me; I could barely write fast enough to keep up with the action. I was amazed as the scene continued to build. Refusing their plea for more time Luan’s rant grew as he shouted at the Emperor and the Council but I was flabbergasted as he ended his demands he spat on the floor in front of the Emperor. Finishing his tirade he turned and marched out of the council chamber. As he reached the door he stopped, turned around and glared at the Emperor and the Council; again he spat on the floor. What a pig!
Prince Luan is more than a condescending bully. What makes his character so interesting is that he is so spoiled and self-absorbed; he hasn’t a drop of compassion or human decency. The neat aspect of his change in character is that as we continue with the story we begin to hate him and long for the predicament to be turned around. Fortunately later in the story the Princess takes control, turns the tables on Prince Luan and he is humiliated.
All interesting stories need conflict and in the middle of my story a young prince from a neighboring kingdom enters the meager but peaceful lives of the Littlest Dragon and the Princess. Prince Luan is the product of a wealthy family that has carelessly indulged the whims and desires of their young son thereby producing a spoiled self-centered character who is short on patience and quick to exhibit flaring temper tantrums.
His behavior may be commonplace in what we call the civilized part of the world where parents in their misdirection look to wealth and power as the major goals in their life instead of incorporating love and discipline into their family structure. For the people of the Princess’ the kingdom Prince Luan’s behavior takes them completely by surprise.
I’ve taken some liberty with the appearance of my characters while writing this story. It was an interesting surprise that in the process of drawing the dragons that the different types took on different appearances. This was not something that was planned it just happened. It could be likened to dressing a strong willed small child who is very opinionated about what clothes they will wear. “Don’t put that green shirt on me, you know I don’t wear green” they might argue. The drawings would wrestle back and forth on my drawing board until their features were acceptable to them and then I could move on to the next character.
The Grand Wizar is a very social dragon that leads the dragon community in the seasonal festivities and especially the birthing celebrations in the spring. He has a plump effervesce about him where as The Old Dragon Sage is very wrinkled and has a stoic appearance. Both of these character’s dorsal crest are similar to the traditional approach of drawing an upside down V, which curves backward from their head to their tail. It was also a pleasant surprise that The Littlest Dragon dorsal crest didn’t follow suit for it was similar to fur that begins with his Mohawk hair cut and proceeds down to his tail. Not only does this hair cut hint at his mild mischievous nature the addition of this feature made the little guy more appealing, even cuddly.
There have been observations that Princess Leizu doesn’t look Chinese, this was
on purpose since I’ve aimed at a universal appeal and I wanted
her to look Eurasian. One of the biggest changes from reality was the place of women in Chinese society historically and currently.
There are things about our culture worldwide and historically that concern me but the one that really upsets me is the treatment of women. It is so discouraging the way that they are regarded and not given the same opportunities, social ranking or liberties as men. I applaud the changes in the western world even though they’re not complete and I’m horrified at what goes on in the East today. I guess it could have reflected the fact that men are usually stronger than women but the fact that this perception has lasted as long as it has truly amazes me.
I’ve put Leizu and her Aunt Wu in a position of authority in the weaving mill so they could be involved with the production of the fabric and eventually the strange circumstances would reveal why Leizu dropped that first cocoon into her tea and discovered silk. This line of attack was also taken so that I could tell a story about a world where hard work, equality and imagination could overcome the difficulties that life can bring. It is about creating a world that I would like to exist rather than the reality that still exists.
This isn’t something that is unique to me since many artistic works display utopian themes. The painter, illustrator Normal Rockwell said that the motivating force behind his presentation of wholesome American values was that he was disappointed in the world around him so he painted the world the way he wished it would be rather than the reality that he experienced.
As I began to write this story I realized that I needed to mold my characters so that their strengths and weakness could play off of each other. The Littlest Dragon was made so small so that he would look insignificant and inept at handling difficulties of life but it is because he is so small that this apparent weakness becomes his strength. His small size would also create a coziness that would appeal to the readers, especially young girls.
I wanted to keep the story in line with the Chinese legend that Leizu discovered silk but besides changing her history from being the wife of the Yellow emperor to the daughter of the emperor, with whom young readers can identify, I wanted her to come from a very poor kingdom. It is because of this poverty that the Princess is faced with a crisis in the middle of the story that she must overcome.
The underlying message of this story is that you don’t have to have magical abilities, super human talents or extreme wealth to be successful. Anyone can become successful and achieve their dreams. A goal, persistence and action are some of the most important keys to achieve success.
Princess Leizu had a humble childhood. Her mornings were spent with her aunt who ran the royal weaving mill that had previously been managed by her husband who is now deceased. Afternoons were spent studying in the garden where she was tutored by this aunt. These morning and afternoon experiences shaped her character; she is hardworking, diligent and humble.
There seems to be numerous items in the news each week about the trials our young go through at school. One of the most disturbing is when an unfortunate youngster is picked on, worst still when they are bullied. In this story The Littlest Dragon is teased about his height because he is about the size of a chipmunk and most of the other dragons were as big as horses.
Dragons in this society were supposed to be symbols of power and respect and like many different societies that lived in this area size mattered. If you were big you seemed more important than others.
During the first year of The Littlest Dragon’s schooling some of the other dragons in his class begin to tease him about how small he is, they even try to convince him that he is so small that he is a nobody. At the end of a rather grueling week instead of going home he retreats to the high mountaintops to be by himself and think. It is in this area that he encounters one of the oldest dragons he has ever seen. He is about the size of a dog.
The Old Dragon Sage listens patiently about how the other classmates have teased The Littlest Dragon. He then gives him advise about how to create a situation that would reduce the amount of teasing and bulling.
Most of the classroom teasing and bulling is decreased if the individual being bullies doesn’t respond. The more kids see that their target is uncomfortable and bothered with the verbal assaults the more they continue but if the target doesn’t react the bullies soon move on to other classmates who will become upset with the mean teasing.
Growing up in the second half of the Twenth Century I was lucky to spend some of the spare time watching animated works from the golden age of cartoons. Walt Disney Studio’s Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck were at first my favorites but my appreciation to cartoons characters soon spread to those from Warner Brothers. The antics of Porky Pig were always amusing and I was especially fond of the clowning around of Bugs Bunny.
Since I grew up in the city of Burbank where these two studios were located I felt especially proud of their work. In time my sensibilities grew to appreciate the work of other animators especially the work of Walter Lantz. The Lantz studios were best known for Woody Woodpecker who I always enjoyed watching but in time I found that the characters Andy Panda and Chilly Willy, who seemed less polished, were therefore more endearing to me.
It was to my surprise that when The Littlest Dragon finally appeared on my drawing board he had a look that stylistic was similar to the characters from the Lantz studio. He had that cute innocent look of Andy Panda, much like a ten-year-old boy with lots of energy mixed with a naïve curiosity. The interesting thing was that I hadn’t thought of Lantz’s work or any cartoon characters until I saw the likeness in my drawing.
The Littlest Dragon enters the story at the end of chapter one and the fact that he is so small is one of the most important aspects of this work. It seems so often in our world that size matters. The big and important people get all the attention but that’s not the way it should be.
I wanted to create a creature that looked vulnerable and maybe even helpless to serve as a model of who we can be, of what we can over come regardless of how small or insignificant we are perceived. I wanted to show that we don’t need special powers to overcome difficulties that being normal is okay and if we focus on the positive and have persistence we can succeed.
I have the utmost respect for other children’s book authors. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is fantastic and what a success story. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan has made him the #1 New York Times bestselling author. Kids and adults love these works but in the end I wanted to produce a children’s story that could not only entertain but could have long lasting effects. A story where the hero of the story didn’t have to be a wizard like Harry Potter or like Percy Jackson, be the son of Poseidon an Olympic God.