Almost everyone has at some point, especially as children, been fascinated with dinosaurs. There is something about such magnificent lifeforms, unlike near anything in the modern day, and of which we only have limited remains, that captures human imagination. Even their fossils inspire a sense of awe and wonder. Writers and filmmakers have been inspired by dinosaurs and their remains to create some of the most enduring books, films, and stories of the modern era, the most famous of which is Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and its film adaptation by Steven Spielberg.
Xlibris Publishing offers 6 Tips for Writing Dinosaurs in Fiction.
1) Do the Research
Research is vital when writing about dinosaurs. Few scientific fields in fiction are as deeply scrutinized as that relating to dinosaurs and other prehistoric lifeforms. There are countless texts and documentaries covering dinosaurs and related fields of paleontology, some of which we will share in a later entry. Research is especially vital as there have been many discoveries that have changed, adjusted, or even completely rewritten how we understand prehistoric life.
2) Know the Myths
A result of research will be better awareness as to myths and false assumptions regarding dinosaurs and prehistoric fauna. For example, the fact that pterosaurs and various aquatic reptiles are not dinosaurs. Another example would be growing truth that many species of predatory dinosaurs had some form of feathery plumage at some point in their lifecycles.
Another persisting myth is the constant referring to sabre-tooth cats as sabre-tooth tigers. The various genus of sabre-tooth cat, most especially smilodon, had physical builds more reminiscent of lions or bears. In addition, the ‘sabres,’ the elongated canines, were incredibly fragile and required careful application by the sabre-tooths.
There are many myths, particularly those propagated by Hollywood and modern media, for you to sift through when you want to write about dinosaurs.
3) Why are there Dinosaurs– Time Travel, Genetic Experiment, Surviving Descendants?
Once you’ve done the research and forewarned yourself against myths both paleontology and media inspired, now comes the question as to why and how are there dinosaurs in your story. Is there time-traveling tourism to the Cretaceous Period? Are the dinosaurs the product of genetic experimentation as they are in the Jurassic Park book and movie franchise? If this the case, why are dinosaurs being created?
A third possibility is that dinosaurs in your story are actually descendants of those found in museums across the world, surviving and hiding in the most remote parts of the world. If this is the case, be aware that there would likely evolutionary changes to such ‘dinosaurs’ making them distinct and different from their extinct ancestors.
4) What is the Dinosaurs’ Role?
What role or roles do the dinosaurs play in your story? Are they outright adversaries? Are they more of an environmental hazard to be overcome and endured? Are they meant to embody something, such as humanity’s scientific hubris? These are the questions you will have to ask yourself when you write a story involving dinosaurs.
5) More than just Dinosaurs
As has been noted above, there are other prehistoric lifeforms other than dinosaurs you can use. There is a vast array of reptiles, arthropods, aquatic creatures, mammals, proto-mammals, that have lived before, concurrently, and after dinosaurs. A small fraction of these even shared the earth with early humanity. The British television series, Primeval made exceptional, if at times flawed, use of various such alternatives to dinosaurs.
6) Dinosaurs are Fun
As a final tip, have fun. Stories involving dinosaurs and other such lifeforms should be fun and enjoyable, both to write and to read.
Xlibris Publishing trusts this helps
Please make sure to check out the Xlibris Publishing site for more advice and blogs, and be sure to follow us on Xlibris Publishing Facebook and Xlibris Publishing Twitter. Get your free publishing guide here.
By Ian Smith