Pets Do What?

Pets Do What?

By Vivian Gilbert Zabel

When people talk about their pets, they give the cats, dogs, even fish human characteristics. People without pets may think pet owners have lost touch with reality, especially if the pets take on aspects of beloved children. Animal lovers, on the other hand, cannot comprehend those without pets.

Which leads us to the situation when an author includes a pet or pets in a story or novel, the possible problem of alienating some readers while entrancing others. Does that mean that a writer must choose between cat lovers and I-prefer-to-leave-cats-aloners? Or that an author has to decide whether to appeal to dog owners and not to those who see no need for dogs? No, a creative writer can manage to keep both types of readers dangling on her every word.

How can one make pets a viable part of a story or book? A few suggestions may help.

Don’t say the same thing over and over. In fact, that’s good advice for any writing project. Readers, at least most, are not morons. If an author mentions something once, twice at the most, readers will get the idea.

Keep the animal likable, not boring or hateful, not boring. As with any other character in a story, a pet needs to have a personality that makes it “real.” Perhaps it has one personality when around one person but a different one around another. Work that into the story. Make the reader “see” the animal. Make the reader like or hate the pet.

Don’t make the animal one dimensional. Creating a pet that becomes a “rounded” character rather than one that is flat, or one dimensional, may be more difficult than with a human. However, a good writer can accomplish that goal by incorporating different traits the animal possesses into the story. A short list of possible traits would include the following:

1. Physical description
2. Way it moves
3. Sounds it makes
4. Actions and reactions under different conditions
5. Likes and dislikes

Whether the pet is a major character of minor one, make the animal character believable. That doesn’t mean what the author writes has to be “real,” but that by suspending reality, the reader can see it in his imagination. Motivation for actions and reactions is the key to believability.

Actually, all I’ve said in all these words is, “Authors, write about a pet, an animal, in fiction as you would about any other character.” The pet should “live” in the writer’s mind as any character would. The author should be able to describe the animal’s physical appearance as well as its personality and actions.

Readers should never exclaim, as they read, “Pets do what?” They should nod as they can see what is being shown in the writing.

Vivian Gilbert Zabel, an author with a portfolio on http://www.Writing.Com/authors/vzabel, has two books: Walking the Earth:Life’s Perspectives in Poetry and Hidden Lies and Other Stories. This article was submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.

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