Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Writing update for Primal Frontier

I thought it'd be fair to give a brief update on how my work is coming along seeing as how it's been a good bit of time since the last one.
I'd actually hoped to have my first novella out by now, but after sifting through my rough draft with the input of others I started the entire thing over from scratch. Not terribly fun, but I'm not about to screw up my first story out of the gate. I'm more than half way through already and with luck I'll have it finished by the end of the month. But I'll still have to edit it, get beta readers, correct spelling and grammar, etc, so it will be out in November at the soonest.
I am happy however in that this second version is far superior to its predecessor. It's got all the classic pulpy goodies, wheeee!

On the other hand, I have gotten some other novellas in Primal Frontier started up, so I'm getting some other fun stuff whipped up.

I must mention though that writing stuff involving prehistoric life is pretty darned challenging from many angles.
The most obvious is scientific accuracy. If you look at older depictions of dinosaurs compared to modern depictions then you've probably noticed a thing or two has changed. The science is frequently being updated as new discoveries are made and thus the animals are shifting yearly. Paleo-nerds will pounce on this stuff in a heartbeat. Have you seen forums when you get paleo guys and average joes talking about feathers? That stuff gets intense!
You can get virtually everything nailed in your story, but within a decade most of your stuff will become outdated. A friend of mine flat out stopped researching the entire animal group because she got fed up with the constantly changing facts.

Writers doing time travel plots get flayed over mixing species of different eras and continents together. Those guys have it rough! Hopefully my alternate history setting with convergent evolution and different continental drift with a curious lack of extinction in some species will be enough to keep the hard-core paleo gents from crucifying me. Heaven knows I've tried doing my research!

Mind you though, I'm not complaining. If I get something wrong about behavior or physiology I appreciate being corrected. Improvement never comes without mistakes being pointed out!
(Wait, what do you mean I can't have a dimetrodon battling a megalania? Why not!?)
I'd say the most vexing problem with the setting I've got is that it's difficult to get lesser known creatures worked into the story. I don't want to give the usual parade of standard dinos like T-Rex, trikes, raptors, stegos, etc. After all, there were hundreds of other beasties cruising around back then and I want to create environments that feel real with realistic animals, not Syfi monsters that become obsessed with crushing every human they lay eyes on.

From a world building and realistic standpoint throwing in animals and environmental info is great, but from a storytelling standpoint it isn't. Everything has to have a purpose, otherwise the reader gets bored. The only writer I've seen get away with what is basically an exhibition tour of a carefully crafted world is Dinotopia. You can see all the amazing effort and detail put into every single page and it sucks you right in. It has virtually no story though. It's much more like you're riding a tour bus and seeing all of the cool stuff. If that's the entire point then you might be able to get away with it. But when you're writing a story with action and you need to keep the pace moving you have little room for stopping to check out every little critter and their lifestyle.

It's hard to make tiny animals seem interesting and relevant when you're writing a story about epic exploration and hunting. It's an interesting dilemma, but one I hope to overcome. Readers these days deserve good stories dangit!

Thankfully my obsessive research into firearms will satisfy 95% of all firearm nuts like myself. Historian firearm buffs see lots of unfamiliar weapons as this is alternate history, but they'll have a hard time finding the kinds of flaws that you get in the bulk of Hollywood action movies. Not to mention I can make up all kinds of fun stuff since this is my universe and I'm limited only by physics, so hah! I hope you enjoy Matthew Quigely-esque firearm descriptions, because you'll get plenty of those.

Well, wish me luck lads!

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