Comparing Dragons and Butterflies

Obviously, this post is not going to compare the actual animals.  Although that would be fun, come to think of it.  While they don’t have a lot in common, since one is a real insect and the other is a fictional reptile, there are some similarities.  Both are ectothermic, both can fly, and both occur frequently in body art.  The most important commonality, though, has to do with my novels.  They both are featured in the titles.

What I really want to compare is The Queen’s Butterflies and Dragon Pendant, my two unpublished novels.  (Yes, I have dropped “the” from the working title of Dragon Pendant.  I don’t want to go to the effort of changing the tag in every blog post so it will remain The Dragon Pendant in that context.)  As I have finally committed to working on Dragon Pendant, it might be time for some comparisons.

At eight chapters in, Dragon is running about 5 word-document pages behind Butterflies.  I don’t know what this means, other than so far Dragon is shorter.  It doesn’t mean it will end up shorter, just that the first eight chapters are shorter.  My biggest worry with Dragon is that it won’t be long enough to be considered a novel, but so far it seems to be holding its own.

The reason for this worry is complexity.  Butterflies is a fairly complex novel, with many overlapping plots and sub-plots as well as a large number of characters.  It even has a “cast list” to accompany it to help keep all the players straight at the beginning.  The many threads all come together nicely, but the complexity meant guaranteed length.  Dragon is also complex, but in a very different way.  It is a “quest” story, so the bulk of the tale revolves around one main character.  As no one has read it yet, I don’t know this for sure, but it does seem easier to keep the characters straight since we (mostly) meet them all in sequence as they meet our main character.  Plus, there are generally fewer of them.

Some other major differences between the two novels: Butterflies is set entirely in a made-up world, while Dragon is set half in this world, half in another world accessed through gates.  Butterflies has only minor magic, while Dragon has a lot.  There are no butterflies (the insects) in Butterflies, but Dragon definitely has dragons.  And Butterflies is a human-only story, while Dragon has humans, dragons, elves, and mermaids.  There may even be more non-human intelligent species in Dragon; it’s not done yet, so I can’t say for sure.

Which brings us to the final difference.  Butterflies is finished, whereas Dragon is not.  I’ve handed copies of the first 8 chapters to my new First Readers.  If they both tell me it sucks, well, I’ll be starting on something else.  If they give it the thumbs-up, I’ll definitely keep you updated on how the novel is progressing!