1. MonicaK
    Offline

    MonicaK New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Connecticut

    Anthropomorphizing animal characters/ Children's Book Help?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MonicaK, Aug 6, 2012.

    Hi all,

    First post besides my intro. Here's my question:

    While I am starting to write my book (chapter book- probably ages 6-10 - involves animals that talk) I am also reading and researching articles and books about how to become a children's author, best connect to readers, target audiences etc.

    I started writing the story because it's just the story/idea that has been in my head, and it actually flows and the characters, plot etc. are coming along. My dilema ~ since I have started writing, I have read 2 different articles advising NOT to anthropomorphize animals although the articles have not been indepth, and I'm not sure if this is just a trend, more related to non-chapter books for younger children (3-6?), or if it's just bad form?

    Anyone else read this type of thing?
    Thanks,
    Mon
     
  2. GHarrison
    Offline

    GHarrison Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland, would probably say otherwise.
     
  3. JessWrite
    Offline

    JessWrite Word Nerd & Proud! Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    Messages:
    4,235
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    My Old Kentucky Home
    I say go for it! There are lots of modern kids books with anthropomorphic animals too. Some of my all-time favorite childrens series, Redwall and Guardians of Ga'hoole do this perfectly and are very popular.

    Don't let strangers tell you differently. Write the story that you must tell! :)
     
  4. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    First, welcome, Monica! Congratulations on having started writing that story you have in you.

    As far as:
    Your answer is in your quote. It's working for you (at least so far.) If it's working, don't pay any attention to those articles. It's hard to say just how much validity their advice has, because you haven't told us exactly why they are saying not to anthropomorphize or whether they believe this is applicable to every context involving animals, or only in some contexts, such as where humans are the main characters of the story or some other particular plot point is present.

    But generally, my philosophy is to write the story you want to tell, without worrying about whether it is trendy or jives with some idea that's out there.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,921
    Likes Received:
    5,454
    I'd want more details on this advice. To me, animals that talk, as in Wind in the Willows, the talking animals in Narnia, and so on, aren't actually _animals_, they're characters that don't happen to be shaped like humans.

    On the other hand, I do find the increasingly anthropomorphized household pets in Martha Grimes' mysteries to be rather annoying. These are actually presented as animals, except they're animals with an unconvincingly high level of intelligence, planning, and communication ability. If I complained about those animals someone might take my complaint, incorrectly, as also condemning Wind in the Willows.
     
  6. MonicaK
    Offline

    MonicaK New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thank you all! This is such a great place for support and advice. I have supportive family in my life, but no one who I can ask about "anthropomorphisizing animals."

    In my heart, I feel and believe exactly what you've all said. It's funny ~ all those sayings about, "the story inside of you," but that's exactly what it's like. The inspiration came from a small incident with my daughter, and it's really always lived there.

    Wow ~ these articles I read really started nagging at my psyche, and this forum was just such a great venue to reach out to!

    Thank you ~ I really haven't established any writer/literary friends yet, so this is just fabulous.
    Mon
     
  7. MonicaK
    Offline

    MonicaK New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Connecticut
    @ChickenFreak ~ only one article gave some slight insight. The author of the article said that talking animals were not totally "taboo," but cautioned that most children's writers were not very good at anthropomorphizing. She felt that often children's writers used talking animals to appeal to small children on a cutsie level, but that often the writers did nothing to give life or personality to the character-just some flat dialogue. She said (I'm paraphrasing here), but she alluded to children's writers using talking animals as a bit of a cop out for developing a character ~ at least that was my take?? That particular article made me think that she might be referring to much younger books where maybe an adorable squirrel or duck might appeal to say a 3 or 4 year old?

    The other articles really didn't give a reason ~ just a clear don't do it! The articles I researched were about children's books, and I know that category encompasses picture books, new readers, chaper books, ya, so perhaps the advice is geared toward writers of early reader or board books?

    I'm enjoying the story that is developing so far, so I'll stick with it (happily). I feel that my characters are truly developing through plot, action, dialogue etc. although certainly not to a level of being considered "highly intelligent." I'm trying to keep both characters personalities and developmental stage close to my target (6-10) - NOT that that age range can't be highly intelligent ~ by that I just mean I want to keep the story "relatable."

    Mon
     
  8. inkyliddlefingers
    Offline

    inkyliddlefingers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2012
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Wet, windy Wales.
    MonicaK
    Havent seen you around here for a while and don't know whether you are still subscribing to this thread but I am part way though a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing. I have to complete two novels for children (as well as a 30,000 critique of my working practice) and one of my supervisors has access to a renowned publisher here in the Uk. She enquired about the marketability one of my stories which feature two service dogs (also a chapter book,) and he said that whilst he thinks that animal adventure stories will be the next trend, having anthropomorphic characters will be a very hard sell in the publishing world. I was advised by him, though my academic supervisor to tread very warily if I intend to publish as it could seriously hinder my chances if I humanise my characters.
    Hope this helps.
     
  9. Xatron
    Offline

    Xatron Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2013
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    6
    Otherwise would also say the Wizard of Oz, Aesop, the Nutcracker, Pinocchio and Peter Rabbit. And the Narnians.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    monica...
    ignore the articles... for valid info, go to amazon and check out the animal character-based bestsellers in the 'first chapter books' market by successful authors... you can even see how they're written with the 'search inside this book' feature...

    i write children's books for a chicago publisher and mentor aspiring children's book writers, so feel free to email me if you need any help/advice/info along the way...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     

Share This Page