Here’s a first—a guest post!
Daniel M. Bensen is a fellow member of the Codex Writing Group, and he is doing a blog tour in celebration of self-publishing his novel Groom of the Tryannosaur Queen, which he describes as “a time-travel romance with dinosaurs.”
Here’s the cover blurb:
Former soldier Andrea Herrera isn’t happy with where her life’s taken her. Specifically, to Hell Creek, Montana, 65 million years before the present. As far as careers go, making sure the dinosaurs don’t eat her paleontologist clients comes in a pretty dismal second choice to serving her country. But when their time machine malfunctions, Andrea and her team are trapped in a timeline that shouldn’t exist with something a hell of a lot more dangerous than terrible lizards: other humans.
Sounds like a lot of fun to me, so without further ado, here is Daniel M. Bensen telling us how dinosaurs can fix your need for speed:
I self-published Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen (http://www.amazon.com/Groom-Tyrannosaur-Queen-time-travel-romance-ebook/dp/B018UD6DH2 ) on the first of January, but before that, the book sat in my trunk for two and a half years. In the last editing-run through I did in preparation for publishing, I was expecting (dare I say “hoping”) to find that the two books I’d written since had taught me something. I hoped I would find big fat rookie mistakes to fix. I did, but I also found some scenes that were really good. Better, in fact, than anything in my subsequent books. There are scenes in Tyrannosaur Queen where there isn’t much action going on, the plot isn’t moving, and we’re not learning about the characters. We’re just watching a velociraptor hunt or a quetzalcoatlus fly or a tyrannosaur stand in the rain. In my later books, I knew more about how to efficiently craft a story, but I had apparently forgotten how to stop and smell the dinosaurs.
Here’s how I wrote Tyrannosaur Queen. I had your standard three-act adventure story outline of a character finding herself in a strange new place, coming to terms with that place, defeating the bad guy, and going home. Then I focused in on those dinosaurs. I sat down and described them. What did they look like? What were they doing and why? I dropped those dinosaur scenes into the outline. Now, as I was writing I had a series of goals. I had to get my characters to their next encounter with an animal. If there was no such encounter coming up, well then, how about a nodosaur suddenly attacks?
Because an outline is just the bones of the story. As anyone who reconstructs dinosaurs can tell you, bones need to be covered in muscles, fat, and skin with feathers or spikes or those weird little wattles and dewlaps. There needs to be something useless and ornamental in your story, or else it’s just a boring list of stuff that happened.
I led myself through the novel with this trail of beastly bread-crumbs and I kept the process of writing fun. I hope that shows.
Now that’s a metaphor for storytelling I bet you haven’t heard before.