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  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    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?
     
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  2. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    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

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    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...
     
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  4. Night Herald

    Night Herald The guy in the $6,300 suit! Supporter Contributor

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    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?
     
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  5. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    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.
     
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  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    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.
     
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  7. Hammer

    Hammer Member

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    I have a cat...
     
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  8. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    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

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    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.
     
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  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    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.
     

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