What is it about a pet in a story? Adorable, heartwarming, mystery solving, funny, they add so much to a story for me. They add so much to my life. I suppose that’s why most of the books in my series have an animal(s).
When thinking about this post, I was reminded that most of my favorite books have pets/animals in them, as a throwaway character used to create funny situations, or my absolute favorite when the animals are used so extensively in the story that they could be classified as secondary characters.
That’s what I did with the next book in my Zodiac Assassins series, Cancer’s Moon. In it, I have a black jaguar who plays an important role from the very first page, and I fell in love with this big cat. I have dogs and cats and Fenrir wolves, Hellhounds and Stryx, and there will be more.
Consider having animals in your books they add so much, and can do so much work for the story. There are a couple articles I found talking about this and I’d like to share them with you.
The first article is:
Five Ways to Use Pets in Your Story – Without Killing Them by Ariel Anderson
- Add novelty to your story and make it more memorable – the Hellhounds in Leona’s Cage end up bonding with her and one even saves her life. Hellhound lapdogs are memorable!
- Character Development – you can really show who your protagonist is or mirror their emotions. In Lyon’s Roar, Lyon helps save two dogs from a cruelty situation and punishes the owner. It was the first time the heroine saw a gentle, caring side from him and allowed the reader to see the same.
- Use the animal to foreshadow – the animal doesn’t like a person and they turn out to be the villain, or the pet gets sick (but doesn’t die) from eating something and it turns out to be poisoned and would have killed the protagonist. In the Valkyrie book I’m currently writing, one of the horses will get in a pickle, foreshadowing the black moment.
- Give the animal some agency – the dog saves the hero’s life after the hero rescued the dog, or the pet raises the heroine’s spirits at a crucial time encouraging her to go on. In Libra’s Limbo, the paranormal creature known as a Stryx is critically injured and the heroine treats the creatures wounds. From that moment on the Stryx is bonded to her.
- Increase the story conflict – the protagonist has to rescue the animal, or the protag has to learn to deal with a species they’re not familiar with like Cancer and a black jaguar in Cancer’s Moon. Their relationship is a big part of the story.
The second article is:
4 Ways Animals Can Improve Your Story by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)
- Animals as symbols – example: Life of Pi, The Sopranos, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Wizard of Oz
- Animals as us – example: The Muppets, Bambi, Babe, A Bug’s Life, The Lion King, Rango, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Animals as the enemy – example: Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine, Jaws, Anaconda, Arachnophobia, Congo and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Deep Blue Sea, Lake Placid, King Kong
- Animals as friends – example: Free Willy, Air Bud, The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and Beethoven, Turner and Hooch, Drive and Silence of the Lambs, to Big Fish and Old Yeller
Do you have animals in your stories? I hope you do, and if not, please consider incorporating them to add depth and joy and heartache and fist-pumping glory. Your readers will thank you for it!
May your words flow freely,
The Zodiac Assassins series
Available on Amazon Kindle and Print, Nook and Kobo
Lyon’s Roar – https://amzn.to/2IB
Leona’s Descent – https://amzn.to/2yaDfjW
Libra’s Limbo – https://amzn.to/2q3VkNg
Leona’s Cage – https://amzn.to/2QTbVyp
Gemini Asunder – https://amzn.to/2PyNUig
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