1. MrWrite
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    MrWrite Member

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    Help with an animal character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MrWrite, Oct 28, 2009.

    I have been writing my own novel recently, it's basically about a young girl who has to do chores at an old eerie house for an old lady and the house is a house of whacks, with many peculiar things going on.

    I am having a problem with her pet dog though. In chapter 1, after the girl finished school, she took her dog Chelsea out for a walk. When I write lines like:

    "While walking through the woods, Paige decided to let her dog off his leash."

    Is this okay, or should it be:

    "While walking through the woods, Paige decided to let Chelsea off his leash."

    The dog doesn't play a major part in the story, he is really only in chapter 1 and near the end when she finally arrives back at her own home.

    I should also add that the dog is like her best friend, as Paige; the main character doesn't have many friends.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Besides the fact that Chelsea is a girl's name, not a boy...it should be fine to do either one. If the dog really is that important then naming it will probably be better.
     
  3. MrWrite
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    MrWrite Member

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    Yes, it originally was going to be a female dog, but the plot changed slightly and I wanted it to be a bit troublesome and rebellious, so made it a male (stereotype) The name is getting changed... was thinking of Ralfy :)
     
  4. Maxtina
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    Maxtina Banned

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    nice name!
    :)
     
  5. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Pets should have names in my opinion if they are attachment to the story. Otherwise to me it makes it seem like they are some generic animal with no attachment to the reader.
     
  6. Rose
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    Rose New Member

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    if the dog really means that much to her, you should meantion the name. if he's her only friend and she leaves him, surely she is going to think about Ralfy a bit later on. And at that point, you can hardly just say something like "Paige thought about the dog often, she missed him so much" use the name
     
  7. Robert Lipscombe
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    the second is better because 'Chelsea' is less abstract and generic than 'the dog'; always follow the principle of concrete simplicity..so for example 'while walking through the wood, Paige decided to' is unncessarily abstract and the important information is delayed, thus tiring and straining the reader's attention..why not go concrete and simple:
    'they left the path and turned into the woods. There was leaf mulch on the ground and the trees sparkled here and there where the sunlight caught the dew. Paige unclipped the leash and Charlie bounded off...'
    your reader needs something to visualise and experience every two or three words; ideally the things you offer are easy to understand and take in, as well as pleasant/exciting to hold in mind
    good luck with the writing
    rl
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Hmm...that advice is entirely dependent on the genre, the content of the work and the author's style; I certainly wouldn't encourage such a treatment universally. While your proposed change is successful in its own right, it doesn't invalidate the original version, which is perhaps equally successful although with different intentions. Concrete and simple are not always the best options, and certainly far from the only...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Animal-centric stories can be handled at many different levels. You can try to keep the wild, animal flavor to the animal characters, like Jack London's The Call of the Wild. or you can completely anthropomorphise them like Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Most often, you will take a middle ground, like Richard Adams' Watership Down -- the rabbits remain very rabbit-like, but their manner of speech is quite human. Whatever level you choose, just be consistent throughout.
     
  10. Robert Lipscombe
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    Robert Lipscombe Member

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    obviously, yes, but as I recall the questioner asked about her own particular piece with its own manifest genre; that being said, I would disagree with your claim that simple and concrete is not always best. The more abstract any writing the less communicative, impressive and affecting it will be.
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    According to that logic, there's no place for metonymy, metaphor or symbolism in fiction? I don't wanna derail the thread...suffice it to say that with just a little thought I think you'll find that simple and concrete is not necessarily the best option, as literally any fiction book on your bookshelf will show you.
     
  12. Joran Selemis
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    Paige doesn't have many friends, but considers the dog her best friend. I think it's more likely that she would call the dog by name in her head rather than addressing it as 'the dog'; by using the name you make that connection she has with it stronger and more obvious to the reader.

    But it also depends on sentencing and grammar. If you've mentioned the dog's name in the sentence before/after and you want to keep it there, then it's bad to say it in this particular sentence. A handy little motto I follow when writing is "avoid repetition unless it means something." Basically, unless you want to draw attention to the fact that the girl never thinks of her dog as a dog by only ever mentioning it by name you can repeat it.

    Also, just a thought as I'm unsure what your story is actually about but you mention that the dog only appears at the beginning when she's a girl and at the end when she's grown up. This means that your choices at the end in reference to the dog would be pretty powerful: dependent on the kind of life the girl's led, you could mention the dog again by its name only (showing that her life has been much like her childhood in that she did not have friends) or as 'the dog' (showing that she has matured and evolved from when she was a kid, and understands that the dog is just a dog).

    Just a few thoughts.
     

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