I hadn’t considered the pros and cons of animals in my stories until I started writing a novella, one I’m woefully behind on, in which a Basset Hound named Mosey steals the show. This is how I’ve got my Mosey pictured (the dude on the left). In fact, this picture lives on my wall while I write his story. Ahem…while I write the story he’s in.
He’s as big a character as the heroine and refuses to drop to secondary character status. Now because it fits, and the story, kinda revolves around him, I’m going to let him get away with that sass.
My animal characters are instrumental in developing the main characters into a richness I’d have struggled to achieve otherwise. In Tuesday’s Child, Samantha saves a damaged German Shepherd, knowing that in doing so, she might be able to save herself on some deeper level. In Hide’n Go Seek, book 2 of the same series, (and yes, it’s almost ready for release!) Kali is the human half of a search and rescue team with Shiloh being her gentle, teddy bear loving canine partner.
In all three stories, I’ve used dogs. Now that’s interesting because I adore cats. I serve 4 felines in my house now. Yet, I’ve never put them into a story. Maybe I don’t think I can do them justice? Or I haven’t gotten there yet, I can’t say at this time. However, in all these cases, the animals are side dishes – or secondary characters (Yes, Mosey, even you!)
Obviously some authors love animals in their books. Our very own Edie Ramer and her book Cattitude is a great example where a woman and a cat exchange bodies. Then Edie has a dragon character in Dragon Blues, so she’s obviously got that whole animal thing going on well. She even wrote a cat story as her short story, The Fat Cat, in Entangled.
I’m not talking here of the very popular paranormal critters that drive so many of today’s stories. I mean the good old standard dogs, cats, horses, etc.
Animals have long dominate young children books, think Winnie the Pooh, Barbar, and well, any Beatrix Potter book for that matter. Then there are the cartoons – who doesn’t love Scooby doo?
As main meals, animal stories don’t necessarily come out on top. It might be a classic, but I’ve never liked Animal Farm. Then I could see the events happening a little too clearly and so didn’t want to go there in my mind!
However, there are many other animal stories that made me stop and think – consider Raven Quest, The Sight, The Good Dog, Venus of the Fishes, The Seekers, Watership Down. These are main meal animal story where they are the story and the story is usually told from the animal’s point of view.
So the question I’m asking you, the reader, is - do you like your animals in large doses, main meal size doses…or would your prefer your animals to be in the background – a side dish so to speak? Or are you happy when they slip into the middle where they become sidekicks and try to steal the story?