Tags:
  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,646
    Likes Received:
    1,782

    Animals.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by deadrats, Oct 31, 2018.

    Are there any animals in your fiction? Does your MC have a dog? Does your MC turn into a dog? I've been thinking about the role animals can play in fiction. Just like they can bring out the best in us in real life, I've found they can show a side of a character that might be harder to show with other people (or whatever creature your MC is). Other than just pets, I can see many ways animals might make it into a story, but at least in my fiction there aren't many animals. However, I put some animals in my newest short story to serve a purpose a human character can't. Mainly, I needed the sounds they make, barking and such.

    My novel doesn't have any animals in it as of yet. It probably won't since I can't really think of a good reason to include any at this point. Do you need a good reason to include an animal? Hmmm... I'm tempted to work something wild into my novel now.

    Anyway, what's your take on animals in fiction? I read in some submissions guidelines before that this one place at least didn't want any stories about cats. I can't remember where it was, but they must have seen quite a few stories involving cats to say such a thing. Is it generally a good leave to leave animals out of your story or can a four-legged friend be just what the plot call for? I know it depends on the story, but I'm just wondering what you guys think of animals in fiction and if you've brought them into your writing. Why or why not?
     
    LoaDyron and John Calligan like this.
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,430
    Likes Received:
    11,070
    I often include animals. Lots of horses and dogs, but also a cat, some cattle, a raccoon, a squirrel... maybe others.

    I think they do a good job of letting tough characters be vulnerable. Plus, they're fun!
     
  3. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2015
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    636
    Location:
    Victoria, Australia
    Well, does sentient animals count? If so, then sure, but <he> is perhaps a bit more of a character than a 'pet' (in fact, he would rather dislike and probably would attack you if you ever so dared to assume him as a pet).

    But on a literary point of view, I do not see why animals or pets should be avoided. Perhaps it comes from a lot of submissions, views, stories or the lacks have poorly written (in this case) cats. But as @BayView said, I quite enjoy using them and including them - even if it just as part of a landscape or random scratching that is somewhat irrelevant. I think you can use them to tell details about the scenery, the tempo and emotion of a particular scene, etc...
     
    deadrats likes this.
  4. Night Herald

    Night Herald The Illustrated, Blind, Solid Silver Bitch Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    779
    Location:
    Norway
    On occasion, though such occasions are in the minority. At the top of my head I can think of two cats—one the talking familiar of a Warlock, the other a standard issue house pet—one dog, and one mystic raven (Munin, of Odin fame). That's it. Those are the ones that have names, descriptions, and at least some importance to the story. I find that a bit strange, since I love animals. I guess I just tend to write stories that don't really have room for or need of them, or settings that simply don't allow for it. I'm of the opinion that they should be made to earn their keep, like any other character.

    Of course anonymous horses and oxen and what not show up, and there are critters scurrying through the scenery, and strays gnawing on background props, and all of that. I suppose I should think about giving some of my Fantasy People a favorite destrier or something.

    And no, I don't think I've ever used wild beasts as “antagonists” or “mooks” in any story. Not that I can think of, but then again I'm running on fumes over here. I default to humans and other monsters for that sort of thing. Not only do they make for more interesting threats, in my opinion, but I don't think I know enough about variuous animal behaviors to do it right.

    I wonder if that means stories about cats, or stories containing any trace elements of cat whatsoever. Seems like a pretty arbitrary thing to prohibit. No, I don't think there's anything wrong with having animals in your stories, mundane or otherwise. It's all about what you do with it, right?
     
    deadrats likes this.
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,451
    Likes Received:
    391
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Actually I just wrote a book where the main character picked up a wild boar as a pet / companion. I thought old Tusk added some humor to things and he looked great on the cover.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Maggie May, Oscar Leigh and deadrats like this.
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    10,317
    Likes Received:
    8,402
    Location:
    Near Sedro Woolley, Washington
    I'm writing a "fanfiction" of my main WIP, in which I turn one of my MCs into a superhero (I don't usually write fantasies - my characters are almost invariably standard-issue humans). In the superhero version of the story, the character has a telepathic link with a gyrfalcon.

    Most of my regular fiction has animals in it, but only as, you know, animals. Horses for riding, that sort of thing.
     
    Matt E and deadrats like this.
  7. Hammer

    Hammer Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2018
    Messages:
    430
    Likes Received:
    797
    Location:
    UK

    I have a cat...
     
    deadrats likes this.
  8. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    203
    Likes Received:
    111
    Location:
    Canada
    Rose encounters wolves, ravens, bears, goats, grayhorn (huge mountain goats). In the cites and towns there are cats, dogs, sheep, cattle. Seals also live on the glacier. Anything that might inhabit the landscape. Rose’s favorite animal is a black goat named Coal.
     
  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2018
    Messages:
    751
    Likes Received:
    724
    Location:
    Staying in my comfort zone
    One of my MCs turns into a dog, or wolf rather. One of my major secondary characters has a cat. I am thinking about one of my MCs getting a cat or dog later too.
    Animals do allow for some interesting moments with your characters. Bring up some powerful emotional scenes without the need for drama surrounding it, and interacting with animals can sometimes actually humanize a character more easily than interacting with other humans.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,087
    Likes Received:
    2,741
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I have a brief moment where a dolphin makes an appearance in my WIP. I wanted to show this gaudy producer's house and I thought the perfect 'pet' for him would be a dolphin. The dolphin's name is Hike. As in 'take a hike.' There is no love between them though cause the dolphin frequently likes to humiliate the producer.
    I also included a Shih Tzu -- T Wolfe (after Tom Wolfe.)

    I've always had animals involved in my life so I like to include them but sometimes it doesn't seem practical cause I can lose track of them in a scene.
     
  11. NigellaStory88

    NigellaStory88 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2017
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Ireland
    yes there will be. Traditional Irish animals such as red deer, red squirrels, red foxes, pereguine falcons, etc.
     
  12. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2018
    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    331
    Animals are fascinated creatures. They can bring joy to our lives. They are far more intellengent that many people may think. If you are thinking of including an animal on your story, do it to complete a part of your MC's personality. With that, both could bring to the table beautiful experiences, a strong message to the audience.
     
  13. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    327
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Seattle
    My book has an alien space lizard. It isn’t very friendly.

    Otherwise, no animals yet or really planned. I’ll have to think about whether the people in my world have pets. It’s a run-down space western planet. They probably don’t have strays hanging around, so importing a dog or cat from earth would be a luxury and a mouth to feed.
     
  14. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    22,634
    Likes Received:
    17,172
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    You know, when I think about it, Science Fiction tends to be either replete with animals (alien worlds filled with amazing/scary/deadly thingamadoodles), else - much like religion as a concept - they are utterly absent. o_O

    Kinda' just only now came to that realization.
     
    Matt E and Fieryace like this.
  15. Fieryace

    Fieryace New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2018
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    8
    In my current project only one animal is mentioned, just briefly. This was a conscious decision though, the absence of animals is more important to my story.

    In general on animals in fiction, even though it's maybe overdone, I personally like when they are used as metaphors and foreshadowing. These also tends to be culturally specific, so if your characters are interpreting the metaphors for the reader it can tell you a lot about them. It's also an easy way to be colossally culturally insensitive, so I understand why a lot of people avoid it.

    On animals as characters, I think it's interesting that they do tend to be absent unless the entire cast are animals. And if they aren't, say they're a pet, they're treated as furniture. I always thought that was the joke with Rowdy the stuffed dog from Scrubs. He's their 'pet', but they literally treat him as a piece of furniture.
     
  16. Maggie May

    Maggie May Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    61
    It does not make sense to add an animal just to add an animal. It has to make sense and can contribute to the story.
     
  17. SutkiKynyR

    SutkiKynyR Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2018
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    8
    Animals should be used only if one has proper understanding in the animals natural behaviour and such. Otherwise it will be seen as shallow add-in.

    But that's just how I read.
     
  18. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    266
    Location:
    Lisbon, Portugal
    I don't like to include animals in my stories. I'm such an animal lover that it would derail me completely from writing about the human persons. The animal would become the main character immediately.
    Knowing this, I abstain.
    The other main reason is that my stories happen in fictional past times when people and animals alike are subjected to violence and suffering. I prefer to leave the animals out of it. Maybe I'll include them in happier tales.
     
  19. EBohio

    EBohio Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2018
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Ohio
    @deadrats said: "Just like they can bring out the best in us in real life, I've found they can show a side of a character that might be harder to show with other people ..."


    Exactly! You use the animal as a mirror of human behavior.

    Remember a movie, "Down And Out In Beverly Hills"? The dog Cocheese (I am butchering the spelling) was actually one of the most favorite characters, even though Bette Midler, Nick Nolte, and Richard Dreyfus was in it. The dog in real life even got commercial deals after the movie was released.

    Why was the dog popular? Because the dog, just like the rest of the family was seeing a psychiatrist, a doggie psychiatrist. Some of the most funniest parts of the movie. But it was there to further illustrate the current pop culture of the times and theme of the story.
     
  20. EBohio

    EBohio Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2018
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Ohio
    Hey, how were you able to post if you're banned??
     
  21. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    22,634
    Likes Received:
    17,172
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    He can't. It's old. That member's story was brief, fierce, and unfortunate.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.

Share This Page