What's up, little man? Sweetie? Princess? Dummy-wummy? Finny boy? Pretty boy? Honey pie?
Those are just a handful of names I call my hound-mix puppy, Huck, whose real name is Huckleberry Finn. The point is, I love him to bits, and other animals, too. July (wow, it's...what? Where have I been this entire year) has a Round Robin and it focuses on like likes of Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Racing in the Rain, His Dark Materials, The Jungle Book, you know...dogs, kitties, birds: any creature in the animal kingdom! So strap on your safari hat, grab an oxygen tank, a butterfly net, and some climbing rope, or just scream, "Here, boy!" becauuuuuseeee....
Topic: Have you used pets or other animals in your stories? What function do they perform in the story? Do they need to have a function? Can they be a character?
Good question! I'm actually excruciatingly weird about this: until recently, a median of zero animals featured as even minorly important characters in my stories. Birds could fly/caw/etc. for setting, and in one book a wolf prowled an empty camp, but really? Nah. Which is weird, because animals are everywhere.
I had an inner conversation about this maybe a year ago when I wanted my one MC to have a golden retriever. But his mother was dead, his sister mentally unstable, and his father was the Captain of the Guard on Mount Olympus and gods know the MC was barely home to take care of it himself, so I dropped it. Apparently I either couldn't bear the thought of a fictional dog being neglected or it was so wholly unnecessary that it was a no-go. Another MC took care of goats in a livestock kind of way, but she lost them too when, for some reason, I decided her little island home didn't need them. Thennnn, maybe four months ago, a canine minor character appeared! Score one for the pups back home!
Upper right there is Marnie, a 12-yr old rescue Shih Tzu that's currently an Instagram sensation and also owns a section of my heart. There's this video of her eating a tortilla (there's also a tortilla on her head) and I almost cried, it's so cute. The point is, she resembles my little character, Marie Antoinette, or Her Royal Highness. I didn't even know about Marnie while I was writing, and to see the google-eyed, limpy, tongue-lolling ball of sun-destroying adorableness was awesome, like my imagination came to life and took to Instagram. Marie, my dog (God, the names are like one letter off but I swear it's a crazy coincidence!) belongs to my MC, Apollo Roszak, who's a twenty-one-year old art forger living in Geneva, Switzerland. Marie is used to comic relief, for a con or two, and keeps the Roszak family grounded while they're orchestrating the grandest repossession scheme in modern history.
In the future, I hope to bring animals in a lot more. Have one as the MC's guardian, best friend, something. Just having them as background setting is a tiny bit of a waste, I think. Humans are fantastic and complex, but what about animals? What if a character depends on the cooperation of a tiger, trapped between some bad guys and crouched in a tiger den, and has a stare down with the cat's unreadable eyes? Will the tiger stay calm, growl, pounce, what? Also, animals can be used to everyone's advantage. There was an episode of ABC Family's Once Upon a Time where some villains literally used a puppy to kidnap one of the minor heroes. It was brilliant and I really think it's something (fictional) villains should look into. Because who can think straight when there's a charming, teeny weeny animal in front of your face?
Do you ever put animals in your stories? Have you ever written a piece from the viewpoint of an animal?
Scurry over and check out the rest of the crew, which is a good group this month!