04 April, 2012

A to Z Challenge: D is for Dragons, Dryads, & Dobies

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to popular demand, I will be revisiting the Catagenesis universe every Tuesday for the remainder of April. If you're interested in nothing else, come back then for more of the story! And, please, keep the feedback coming - I love hearing from you all.

D is for Dragons, Dryads, & Dobies

Fantasy creatures are such fun. It's one of my favorite parts of writing fantasy.

While many authors choose to create their own wild characters, others pull from the immensely varied creatures of mythology. This can be extremely beneficial in two ways:
  1. Many people will already know something about it, so it's instantly recognizable
  2. You don't have to create your own believable monster
You still need to be careful, though. Die-hard mythology buffs will call you out without mercy if you get an aspect of the creature wrong or ignore long-standing rules of how it looks, moves, etc.

There's also the need for originality. How many times have gryphons or wyrms showed up in fantasy stories? How is yours any different? You'll need to find a way to present the creature in a new, fresh light while staying true to the myths that make it what it is.

To get you started, here are a few of my favorite 'D' creatures:

Who doesn't want one of these in their story? For that matter, who hasn't heard of dragons?

The word 'dragon' derives from the Greek word drakonta or drakon, which means to "watch for" or "to look at." This suggests that, even then, the myth of the dragon was firmly established as something to be feared and on guard for. The fact that dragons are seen in nearly every major culture's mythology has led some mythological scholars to suggest that there may have, at one time, been a real creature as the basis.

Dragons generally have bat-like wings, scaled skin, a barbed tail, and breathe fire. They may talk as intelligent beings or be a slightly more intelligent form of dumb beasts. Some are harbingers of doom while others are charms of good luck. Most hoard treasure, haunt pools or wells, and are deeply attracted to maidens and princesses.

Some famous dragons are: the Greek Python of Delphi, St. George's dragon, Smaug from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and Nidhoggr, the Norse Dragon of Death.

Dryads are one of two species of guardian tree spirits (or nymphs) from Greek mythology. They were often portrayed as companions to the moon goddess, Artemis, or the god of wine, Dionysus. While dryads may move about freely beyond their trees, their counterparts, Hammadryads, cannot. (Hammadryads also die when their trees are cut down whereas dryads have a chance of surviving.) Dryads are often seen dancing or wandering in the forest but it is considered unlucky to see them or stay within their company. They are known to be very dangerous to humans who cut down trees.

'Dryad' come from the Greek word drys, which means 'oak.'

Dryads have been used over and over again in fiction: Milton's Paradise Lost, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Belgariad by David Eddings.

The Dobie, or Dobby, is a British house fairy who likes to help human beings. They particularly enjoy housework or labor-intensive chores and sometimes are given the duty of guarding family treasure. However, the Dobie is not very wise and sometimes make ridiculous mistakes (which begs the question: why would you have one guard your treasure?).

In parts of West Yorkshire, a Dobby is an evil fairy who leaps on the backs of travelers on horseback and garrotes them. Not a good way to go. One wonders what it is about West Yorkshire that produced the murdering spawn of an otherwise helpful, considerate creature.

Obviously, the most famous Dobie is seen in the Harry Potter books and movies (and, according to Google, the only one anyone is interested in sketching). I wasn't able to find any others. If you know of any other stories starring Dobies, please let me know in the comments.

What are your favorite fantasy creatures? And do they start with a 'D?'


Dragon image supplied by http://www.draconika.com/types.php.
Dryad image supplied by http://sheeponthemountain.tumblr.com/.
Dobby image supplied by http://jerome-k-moore.deviantart.com/art/DOBBY-THE-FIRST-FREE-ELF-42105158.


  1. Wonderful post! I love mythological creatures and in fantasy Dragon's are definitely my favourite. I think if I wrote a fantasy story (which I always hope to do!) that dragons would definitely feature in it somehow but maybe I'd search through my numerous mythology books for some creatures that are not heard of alot! Love the bit about the Dobie also :)

    1. Dragons are awesome! I added one to my latest fantasy novel.

  2. Love the post - I saw an interesting movie the other day "Age of the Dragons: which is Moby Dick transplanted, and Ahab seeks a Great White Dragon instead of a whale!

    Found you through the A to Z challenge.
    Good luck and I hope I can keep up too!

    1. Thanks, Paul! I'll be checking out your blog, as well!

  3. Excellent post!!! I simply adore dragons!

  4. And here I thought JK Rowling invented the Dobbie!

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge!

    A to Z Challenge Host

    1. So did I, until I looked him up and realized it's an English myth.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Dragons have always been my favorite mythological creatures.

    Some myths that claim that if you feed a dragon milk it will turn into a cat. :)

    1. I had not heard that before. I wonder why a cat, of all things. Maybe it's the eyes?

    2. That's what I'd always thought. Cats have such big, mysterious eyes... :)

  6. I wish a Dobie would come to my house and clean my kitchen everyday and do the laundry. I could get so much more writing done then.

    1. Ha, I do, too. Of course, if he does nothing but be clumsy, it could be more nerve-wracking than anything else. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by!


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