How Much Daydreaming is too Much?

FairyLightSm

As a child in school, I spent hours wool-gathering during classes. Many teachers despaired for my academic future, and I would get comments on my report cards such as, “Dreams too much.” That one is actually a verbatim comment.

How much daydreaming is too much?

To be sure, daydreaming hampered my ability to understand algebra and trigonometry, but in hindsight, I feel that even had I paid attention I would not have understood these subjects. The part of the brain that understands mathematic formulas and figures dropped out of school before it even began, at the kindergarten level. Instead, its cousin, the part of the brain that could read well and make pictures in my head went into overdrive. If there was an academic award for imagination, I would have aced it.

My English teachers loved me. I wrote essays, short stories and compositions, that were read out loud to the rest of the class. It did not make me popular, but my reputation was always redeemed again during arithmetic and math classes. But this was where I earned the scorn and fury of teachers. We did not have great teachers, obviously (unless they taught English). It was the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and corporal punishment was encouraged. I had been whacked with rulers and hit by flying erasers or chalk too many times to count. None of it helped me understand math. My parents weren’t sympathetic. (But that is another blog for later–about the ’50’s: “What was it really like?“)

I didn’t like science much. Too many facts and figures, not to mention the gross smells. Science class turned into a mad scientist’s lab, and I conjured up visions of monsters being created. Maybe this is where Mary Shelley got her inspiration from for her novel, Frankenstein. It’s probably where I got my monsters from for my fantasy novels.

My math teachers were monsters with claws and big teeth. I was always the heroine who rescued my fellow-students from the hideous creature that drooled and roared up at the chalk-board.

Daydreaming was my escape. There is a saying, one man’s day dream is another man’s novel. Since I knew I’d never grow up to be a scientist or engineer, or even an astronaut, I felt it wasn’t a waste of my time to daydream during class. It has paid off. Unfortunately, not in money. If money is your thing, aim for the astronaut or engineer, or even the burger flipper at the local fast food joint. With the latter, you might still make more money than the average author.

But if it is your dream to write books, and I mean books of fiction, then there is no need to feel inferior to your fact-based friends. I must just caution you, be smarter than I was about your daydreaming. Teachers no longer physically assault students, but they can still write sarcastic comments in your report card. Pay attention. Try to understand the incomprehensible, and work around it. Find a time to daydream where it will not cause problems for you.

Academia is important to all of us, especially writers. We want to be able to understand the incomprehensible just as much as anyone because you never know when you may need it in a novel you are writing. Being smart makes you a better writer! One can have the most amazing inspiration for an excellent story, but being unable to translate that into something someone wants to read requires work. It requires a basic or better understanding of language, syntax, grammar and spelling. Don’t let yourself down on these subjects.

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Writer’s Block–How to Deal With It?

WritersBlock

If you haven’t experienced writer’s block, then perhaps you just don’t write a lot, if at all, and then you probably would not even be reading this blog or this post. Every writer, at some point, suffers the mind-numbing and discouraging affliction called writer’s block. What is it? It is when you sit down in front of your keyboard fully intending to write the next chapter of your book, and . . .  nothing, nada. Not a word or even a half-baked idea comes to mind. It can strike at any time, but usually when you least expect it.

What can we do? Besides crying, staring blankly at the screen, or pounding something in frustration, there are fortunately many things that can clear writer’s block. Maybe not all of them all of the time, but keep at it, and eventually you’ll hit upon something that does the trick.

  • I stop trying to write. “Trying to” only makes it worse. It’s like pushing a wet noodle, so stop. Get up and get a drink or a snack. Go for a walk. Pet the dog, or the cat. Talk to a plant. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it has nothing to do with your writing project or book. Don’t linger here too long though. Now, go back and sit in front of that keyboard again.
  • Read what you’ve already written. If it’s a book, start from the beginning and read it through to where you got to in your last session. If it’s not yet a book but a compilation of ideas, or a rough outline, read that too. As you’re reading, keep a pen and paper handy and jot down any thoughts that come to you, no matter how silly they may sound. Read what you have written as if it is someone else’s project or book, not yours. Pretend that a friend asked you for writing advice and presented you with what is in front of you. When we stop pressuring ourselves to be perfect, we open up our creative mind to fresh ideas that don’t have to be perfect to pass the mind-police road block in your head.
  • Talk to other writers. This is not too difficult if you belong to a writer’s group, whether on-line or in person. We all go through this at some point and we’ve all discovered ways that might work for us. It’s good to share your feelings with others who might be able to help.
  • Go read another book in your genre. Read what inspires you. If Tolkien is your inspiration, or Stephen King, find a book of their’s that you really enjoyed. Read a chapter or two. By the time you have finished you will understand more of what your own goals are for your book. Notice how they write and ask yourself if a certain passage inspires you to write in a similar style or gives you any ideas. We are not copy-cats, but we can find a lot of inspiration from other authors. Sometimes, even an author you don’t like. Why don’t you like them? What is it about their books that you feel you can do better? This may help you realize that you are able to do much better, and that might help clear the block too.
  • If you don’t know how to meditate and have never done it, don’t worry—it’s easy. Go sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Make your mind as blank as it can get, but if you are having trouble doing this, imagine you are sitting in a place that you love and feel at peace. For example, I would choose a beach. I would hear the waves breaking on the shore and feel the warm sun on my body. I would hear sea-gulls cries around me. Engage all your senses. Do this for as long as it feels real to you, and if you happen to fall asleep, that’s okay too. Your mind block will clear itself out of the way as you snooze. Or maybe a sea-gull will sit down next to you and tell you how to proceed. Don’t laugh, it can happen!

By now you have probably gathered that the solution to writer’s block is not to resist it. Fear causes writer’s block. A deep-rooted fear that we’re not good enough and ideas are limited. We live in an unlimited universe, and there are more ways of saying things out there than there are people currently writing. Allow your mind to explore without fear attached and it will find the most creative things to say! If it doesn’t happen in five minutes, it is not a tragedy. It will happen, and you will know that all you were doing was waiting for the right thing to come along. Sometimes, the longer we spend away from our book, the more able we are to come at it again with a fresh mind. If you can’t write that day, not at all, then try again the next day.

Love to Hate Villains

3D rendered portrait of a reptilian alien.

Who are your favorite villains in fiction? Or movies? Let’s face it, we all love to hate a mustache-twirling villain, or the stereotypical and evil Cruella Deville. I can’t imagine writing a fictional book–or reading one–without at least one real stinker of a character. It would be like eating food with no seasoning. Fortunately, my novels have an unlimited supply of the good, the bad, and many uglies.

In The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, the main villain is an odiferous reptile named Amrafalus. There are no extenuating circumstances for this creature; he lacks even the most basic signs of humanity. Well, he is not human, so one can only expect him to possess the personality of a snake, or a crocodile. Empathy and kindness are not in his vocabulary. He will do whatever is necessary to obtain what he wants without a smidgeon of conscience to guide him. My six protagonists must not allow this creature to reactivate the powerful crystals beneath the citadel in Rhiannon. They are only six, unarmed young people, and Amrafalus has all the power and backing of an army and a navy. How will they escape the manhunt for them that Amrafalus has set into motion?

When we write about evil characters, it is important to realize that no matter how nasty an antagonist may be, he or she always has a weak spot somewhere. A blind spot that does not allow the character to anticipate certain events. In Amrafalus’ case, his blind spot was—oh well, I’m not going to tell you. It would spoil the book, and I would love for you to spot it too!

Crow girl with feather wig and black eyes, real contact lenses and makeup

Another villain I loved to write about is Branwyn. She is in the second book of the series, The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana. Branwyn, or the Raven, as she likes to be called, is completely different to Amrafalus, but she is just as evil and nasty in her way. Branwyn uses deception rather than physical strength. She is a master of manipulation. In today’s terms, she would be called a sociopath: someone who is lacking in conscience and empathy for others. She knows how to manipulate people using her wiles and beauty, and she also possesses considerable psychic skills that allow her to . . . oops! Don’t want to give away too much here! I just want to say that she too has blind spots and you can try to spot those in the book.

How will the six protect themselves from both Amrafalus and Branwyn?

How do you present your villains? Do any of them have any possibility of getting their way, and how are they defeated? What are their blind spots and weaknesses? While we love the uncomplicated villains, it is advisable not to make them too uncomplicated all of the time. Perhaps one of them had a bad childhood, or perhaps they are misunderstood. Or are they? Some doubt will spice up your book and leave the reader wondering!

In presenting your villain(s), there is a fine line the author must walk. Making them too sympathetic, and then killing them off in the last chapter may turn the reader against the book. Making them way too uncomplicated and evil also makes them feel unreal: a Cruella Deville, for example. Although we all love to hate her, she is obviously not a real person and she probably doesn’t remind us of anyone we know–but we all know people who could be just a little like her though, don’t we?

Mix it up: I think the Fantasy genre allows us much more leeway with the villains (Orcs!) than other genres, but it may be a challenge to make them somewhat believable too. I like to have a sampling of the believable, and the well, not so believable–but awfully nasty characters.

Strong Female Characters

The girl with the bow at sunset.

Most writers, thankfully, are now avoiding the cliched damsel in distress character and going for the strong and capable females. I for one am pleased about that, because my female characters all possess strong character traits of some kind. Again, I am not talking about physical strength, although that could be part of it. Strength goes far beyond the muscle-bound hero or spitfire heroine spoiling for a fight. Two of my three main female characters possess the ability to take care of themselves and not depend on males for their survival. One of them does not, but she is strong in other ways, and has other skills. I will discuss her in another post.

Kex is a daring and spirited young girl in The Six and the Crystals of Ialana. She is stubborn, outspoken, and fiercely independent. She relies on her own skills to survive.

In Kex’s clan, girls get married off at an early age, and they have no say in the choice of their husband. Girls are expected to be homemakers and not hunt or develop hunter survival skills as Kex did. Kex’s father had made the unfortunate mistake (or fortunate, as it turned out) to teach his daughter these skills. He also taught her to speak her mind, and to stand up for herself. When it worked against her, and her clan insisted she marry an older man she hated, Kex had little choice but to run away. In her clan, disobedience meant death. I am not encouraging running away for anyone now living in the modern world; things have mostly changed from the days when girls were expected to marry young and their husbands were chosen for them. We have other, legal ways of dealing with adversity at our disposal. Running away in today’s world solves nothing and only makes things worse. It also sets up a mind-set where problems cannot be dealt with in an effective way.

As a writer, I drew on my own memories of running away as a child. I remembered how I packed my little suitcase with some inappropriate items, made myself a sandwich, and went to sit at the bottom of the garden for an hour or two where no one could see me. That was my idea of problem-solving and self-sufficiency. Needless to say, no one ever noticed my absence, and I’d always be home in time for dinner. I grew out of that, eventually, which is good because I would not have made it far beyond the bottom of the garden. Kex did not have the luxury to stick around. Even though she was small and fragile looking she had an inner strength that matched her rawhide bow. I saw Kex as rather Asiatic in appearance, or perhaps Native American. She was typical of the ancient tribes of the Ice Age in the northern hemisphere, but others may see her differently.


Portrait of a young African woman in traditional dress.

Djana, above, is another character who has tremendous fortitude. She is from the fabled city of Rhiannon, but she is not native to that city. Her parents, Holgar and Adne, were imported as slaves by the evil ruler of Rhiannon. However, they escaped the mines where they were sent to work and die, and Holgar became a successful business man in the city.

Djana was brought up in a household of privilege, yet she was not a spoiled debutante like many of her peers. Holgar and Adne had taught her many survival skills, knowing that one day their dream may end. It did, and Djana had to flee the city and make her way across mountains—to where—she did not know.

Djana’s skills were similar to those of Kex, but she also possessed some extra-sensory skills that would be essential to their survival. She does not frighten easily, and faces her fears with tremendous courage. Her strength lies in her ability to survive catastrophic upheaval in her life without falling into self-pity. She faces adversity and deals with it in the best way she knows how.

I see Djana as African in appearance, since her parents were from a part of their world that is much like Africa. I called it “Afarre”.

How do you see your female characters? How do they handle adversity? Could your female character be a role model for teens today, and why? How does their upbringing affect their decision making?

Themes and a Cool Character

Irusan

Before I get to more bad guys, of which there is no shortage of in my books, I would like to introduce my coolest character, Irusan. At first, he may seem a little scary because he is not human, but actually he is a magical Being. He is a shape-shifter, and in many books shape-shifters can be dicey, but Irusan is as reliable as the rising of the sun. He is a peaceful Being whose only purpose is to be of service to mankind—at least those who desire to bring about peace on Ialana.

Irusan’s natural form is cat-like. He is from an old race of Beings who have evolved beyond human capabilities, and his knowledge of the universal laws that encompass other dimensions as well as the physical is unsurpassed. He becomes the mentor and protector of the Six in my book, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana. He does not only appear in this book, but in its sequels as well. Irusan is an integral part of Ialana, even though he does not reside there: he only visits.

When writing fantasy, we all have our “Wizards”, the characters who are much like Gandalph in the Tolkien books. Irusan is my wizard, but he explains more than Gandalph does about how he does things. Wizardry, in my opinion, is not a secret to be guarded jealously by arcane wizards casting spells in dark dungeons with eye of newt or frog; it is a science that anyone can learn if one puts one’s mind to it. The theme of my books is that nothing is magic, but only appears magical when one does not understand how it works.

Consider this: if one could time travel back to the stone age and show a cave man some of our technology, what would the cave man think? That we are sorcerers, of course. They might fall down and worship us, or attempt to kill us, depending upon how they regard us in the moment according to their beliefs. Irusan states many times that he is no sorcerer, and he explains in easy to understand terms how he accomplishes his magic. Science and magic are not two separate things. They can accommodate each other quite well if only people would be more willing to learn. Irusan is a character who supports the theme of my books, and that is why I feel he is “cool”!

Who is your coolest character, and why?

World Building

Idyllic winter landscape painting old farms in a village

The need to build a world is not always limited to Fantasy or Sci-Fi genres; it could be the world we know and live in today. This blog post is about how to build a fantasy world, since fantasy fiction is mostly what I do, but if your book is about a modern day planet Earth, then some of these points could apply as well.

You have thought of your characters, mapped out your plot (if you are a plot mapper), and you are ready to write. Probably by this stage your fantasy world has a name, and you have a general idea what this world is like, but no specific details about it yet. Stop! Right here. Get out your pencil and some paper, and do a quick sketch (doesn’t have to be fancy) of your world–a map. Is it a planet unlike Earth, or is it a continent somewhere unspecified? As you draw this map, you are placing location names inside the map, roads, rivers, lakes, mountains and general topography. Geography students will love this part. I always had a fascination for maps as a child, and used to pore over them, imagining myself there, in countries and lands I had never been to. This is what you need to do now, only it is your map, and your country, planet or land. You have the say. You also have Google Earth!

What is the climate like? Is it hot and tropical, or cold and Arctic? Is it somewhere in-between, or does it have a little bit of each? In my map of Ialana the continent varies from frigid and Siberian-like in the north, to a relatively milder northern European or American type climate with deciduous forests in the center. From here, Ialana stretches many leagues southwards to the tropical climes. On the eastern shores, it is more Mediterranean-like, much like Spain or southern France. There are two enormous mountain ranges, one that makes up the spine of the continent and effectively divides the land into different political and cultural factions, and another one on the western shores that may resemble the west coast of the American continent. There is also a desert between the mountain range in the center and the western coast.

Do you know how the topography of the land affects your story? What is the culture of your people, the inhabitants or races of your planet or continent? What are the different political systems and how do they interact with each other due to the geography of their locations? All of these, from the history of your world or land to it’s current state, are very important things to consider before you actually write your story. I feel the more detail you have, the more authentic and real your world will become to the reader. Draw pictures, look for photos in magazines or online that will help you get a picture of your world, or study other (existing) countries for inspiration.

The photo depicted above is my idea of what the village of Meadowfield looks like, in winter. It is only an aid to help me remember what type of village some of my characters came from. I found it online (bigstock.com). Readers may actually have a different picture in their minds, and that is okay. We don’t want to control what readers imagine, only assist ourselves as writers to keep it all consistent.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a master at world building. He created a world that had a history, it’s own language (Elvish) that he invented. He became as familiar with his world, Middle Earth, as you or I are familiar with our own bedrooms, or our faces–perhaps even more so. He created Middle Earth in it’s totality before he even began to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These books were products of his already invented world. Tolkien was the inspiration for many fantasy writers. We have his legacy to thank, and most of us fantasy writers now include maps in our books so that our readers can also become familiar with our fictional worlds.

If you are writing about an existing country on this planet, it is not necessary to put maps into your book, but it would help to be keep a map somewhere of the area you are writing about so that you can refer back to it. Maps are not only useful for the reader but for the writer as well.

What is your fictional world? Do you have a map to share, or a history? How does the topography, climate and resources of your world affect it’s culture, religions or politics?

Villains: are they always totally evil?

cool b-boy in red jacket against black background

Blaidd is my most perplexing character. It is clear, from the beginning, that Blaidd is not quite like the others in the group. He is obviously suspect to the reader, and it comes as no surprise to anyone when he does not fit in with the group’s mission. He is clearly a loose cannon, and it is evident that he is driven by a desire for power that has its origins in another lifetime. He too does not understand what motivates him, except the conviction that he is destined for better things. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a desire for a better life, but in The Six and the Crystals of Ialana Blaidd takes that to a whole new level, seeking power for power’s sake. His desire for ownership of the crystal is overwhelming and drives his every action and thought.

To my own surprise, I discovered I had a sneaking sympathy for Blaidd. Blaidd came from a dysfunctional home, so it was not his fault—(or was it?)—that he turned out the way he did.  I too (like many reviewers and readers) kept hoping that things would change for Blaidd. Whether he does change or not is still to be revealed, and I will not give away here what happens to Blaidd in the future. I will only say that the reader should not give up on this guy, but fasten your seat belt and be prepared for a rough ride through the life of Blaidd.

Do you have a character whom you would love to see grow into a better person? Do you even know if things will change for this character?

In other blog posts this month I will introduce a few more villains from my books. Most are clearly bad to the bone, while others, like Blaidd, may fall into a greyer area. I love writing about them all, from the monstrous to the “still learning” nasties. It is fascinating to explore the mindset of evil and then to see how they may change—or not.

How do you see your characters?

Toned photo of Surprised Boy Portrait at the Park

Who is that surprised looking guy pictured above? I see him as my primary character, Jarah, in “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana” and it’s sequel, “The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana.” As writers, we often develop a strong image in our own minds of our characters: how they look, how they dress, their personalities, etc. down to the smallest detail. When I search for images for my characters it becomes more difficult, since they seldom conform to the images I have in my mind.

The image above came pretty close to how I saw Jarah. Perhaps Jarah had more zits, but I took this image and ran with it. Why did I say Jarah might have zits? Well, in the books, he is often the most hapless character and had so many self-doubts you wanted to shake him and and scream at him to love himself more. He felt inferior to his friends and companions, and did not see himself as having any leadership abilities whatsoever. He thought people laughed at him behind his back. He may well have been right. So why and how on earth did he become the leader of the group of six?

Tristan, another character he interacted with, had far more leadership abilities, and would have made a great leader of the group. He was a trained soldier, he was older, and knew things Jarah did not. Yet somehow Jarah was the Keeper of the Crystal, and as the story progressed had the say about what the group would do or not do. Adain, his close friend, was better looking, and the girls were all more confident than him, so any one of them could have become the group leader.

As I wrote, I realized why Jarah was the one chosen to lead the group, and not one of the others. Sometimes I felt like a secretary, just writing down what the book wanted me to do, and it became evident to me that Jarah had some excellent, but as yet hidden, leadership qualities, and that was why the crystal chose him as its spokesperson and keeper. He possessed humility. True, at times it became a hindrance, but he was able to rise above that without his position going to his head. He possessed a strength of character that, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, uniquely qualified him to hold the crystal without being seduced by it’s power.

Although the other five in the group were also strong characters, they did not have the unique traits Jarah possessed. He was the perfect one to hold the crystal and keep it safe. He faced dangers with fear, but also with courage. He put the needs of the group and the crystal above his own. I realized that leadership is not about physical prowess, bluster, or inflated egos. It is often the quiet one, the one who is a little uncertain and thoughtful, who might make a great leader.

I wonder how many other writers out there are surprised by their characters? A character who might turn out a little differently than expected. A character who grows as the book progresses. It becomes rather like watching a dear friend grow into their potential, and I love it!

Show vs. Tell

bigstock-Show-Me-Don-t-Tell-Me-58172771

Another way to write is called “Showing”, instead of “Telling”. In telling, the writer is over-involved with the story and is afraid the reader will not understand him or her if they don’t deliver every piece of information with all the force of a sledge hammer. Here is an example of “telling”:

Lyari (our elf) knew he had to fight the dragon. He was afraid, but he didn’t want to show it, so he covered his fear with a smile of confidence so that his friend, Elora, would not know how afraid he really was, even though he thought she already knew.

Now, if you as a reader find those two sentences uninspiring, I wouldn’t blame you. They are. Instead, one could write it this way (showing):

“You don’t have to fight Nilanth, Lyari,” Elora looked at him, her eyes soft. “No one would blame you if you turn down the challenge.”

Lyari smiled. “I know I don’t have to fight him. But I must. I can’t allow him to kill anyone else like he did . . .” He stopped, his voice choking. “Anyway, do you think I’m a coward?”

“No, no—of course not.”

“Well it sounds like you think I’m frightened of him.” He stood up but his legs felt shaky so he sat down again. “I’m ready for him.”

What images came up in your mind as you read the above exchange? Did it feel more real to you than the one before? In the above conversation the reader clearly understands that Lyari feels fear and uncertainty. Elora sees it too and she is the one who gives him an “out”, but one that his pride will not allow him to accept. There is more depth to this exchange than in merely stating the obvious.

A reader does not wish the writer to insert their presence too much, if at all, into a story, since it takes the reader out of the story, out of the moment. The writer is merely a witness to the situation or event: the recorder of what he or she sees/hears in their head. The job of the characters are to drive the story, and they do not need the help of the author except to write down what is occurring as it happens. If the writer needs more explanation, it can always be done by the POV character as a thought in their head, or dialogue with another character.

In my next blog I will discuss the use of description. How necessary is it in a story? And how much?

Point of View for the Young Writer

Young funny man in glasses writing on typewriter

There are many aspects to how you write your book, but an important one is “point of view”, or POV.

Before you begin the actual writing, it is a good idea to decide who is telling the story. The most common, and most popular in fiction, is written in the third person, i.e. “Lyari picked up his sword and moved slowly towards the dragon. He wondered if his months of training had really prepared him for this encounter.” The writer, through Lyari, is the one telling the story, and the writer is omnipresent or omniscient; in other words, the writer can see from not only Lyari’s POV, but also everyone else’s point of view what is happening. The writer will use the pronouns “he”, “she”, “him”, “her”, “it” throughout the book. This form of writing will give the most leeway in switching from character to character since the writer can see everything from his or her own perspective, but the characters will not necessarily see everything as the writer does.

If Lyari is speaking in one chapter, I can only write about what he is seeing and experiencing in that chapter. If I need to see and experience something from the dragon’s POV, then I need to switch in the next chapter, making it clear that I am now looking through dragon eyes at the approaching Lyari. Lyari will not be privy to the dragon’s thoughts or feelings, unless he is also telepathic, which, in fantasy, is a possibility. But you need to make it clear from the outset that Lyari is telepathic or has ESP. Maybe the dragon doesn’t know this and is surprised when Lyari counters his moves!

Writing in first person, “I”, “we”, “my”, “our”, etc. is used mainly in autobiographies or books in diary form, but can be used in an exclusive POV for almost any kind of book. Many are put off by this so be wary before using first person in a general way. It can be tricky! If your dragon needs to express his viewpoint then you will need your “I” character, and in the above case it will be Lyari, to be present, otherwise it will not work.

It is better to be consistent in your pick of POV. Do not make the mistake of using first person POV in one sentence, then suddenly switching to the dragon’s POV in the same breath. If you need to switch, then I would use the first person POV for both Lyari and the dragon, but in separate chapters or segments, if possible. This can be confusing to a reader, so I prefer to use third person POV throughout, or first person POV throughout.

Remember that the person or character whose eyes you are looking through to tell the story is also the character to whom the reader will relate most to. Consistency is the key. Even if you are using an omnipresent POV in third person, which I do in my books, I telegraph switches from character to character in different segments. For example, if I was writing a book about Lyari the elf, I would make it clear that it is Lyari that is speaking, and whose thoughts I can hear, whose eyes I (and the reader) are looking through. Then, if I want to switch to the dragon’s POV, I will be clear that it is now the dragon whose eyes I am looking through, and whose thoughts and feelings I can determine. This method gives the writer the most leeway so there are no unpleasant surprises or confusion for the reader.

It is fine to switch back and forth with POV, but be careful in doing this. Be consistent, watch for sudden changes of POV. Are they going to confuse the reader? If so, you may want to reconsider or make it abundantly clear who is telling the story. I think of myself as the secretary, taking down dictation from many different characters who all want to tell their story and be heard. I remember to keep them separated as much as possible, and ensure the reader knows exactly whose point of view I am now writing about.