Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When You Write, Don’t Forget Rover & Whiskers

by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

As people, we have long been influenced by the pets in our lives.

My husband and I rescued our first cat in 1981 when “Ke Ke” showed up at our back door on a rainy night. I fed her … I didn’t know better … and thus we found ourselves owned by a cat. For a LOT of years. We rescued our first dog in 1990 when our oldest daughter took a summer “job” at the local shelter. “Come look, come look,” she said to her father when he went to pick her up on her first day. He looked. I looked. We “bought.” We had Aimee for nearly 17 years. Then there was Oreo … and Hope and Angel … and Poods. Pets have been a part of our day to day existence for 35 years. We have albums of photos to prove it. And these bits of fluff and fur are as much a part of our family as the kids and grandkids.

As much as we love them, every time we travel, we have to consider them. Even day trips require someone coming over to “let the dog out.” I am required to stop several times a day in my work as a writer and editor (and president and director…) to walk this 20 pounds of love laying, right now, on my left foot.

Now, think about some of the best-known pets in literature. The introduction of pets in works of fiction is much like bringing them into your family home. They are also a great way to help your characters feel more personable to your reader. But once you introduce them, you can’t forget them.

Let’s say you have brought a cat (we’ll call him Whiskers) into your storyline. Whiskers is a friendly cat. He meows a lot. He loves plopping into a puddle of sunshine on the floor, flipping his tail, and then giving himself a bath. He’s also in-tune to your character’s sudden shift of mood.

Or, let’s talk about Rover. Rover is a goofy dog who prefers outside to inside. He runs around the yard all day, dragging sticks to a pile, then dragging them back out again. He rarely barks, but when he does, it’s enough to set off alarms in three counties. Your character loves watching Rover from her kitchen window and occasionally brings Rover inside.

One night, while lying at your feet and snoring softly, Rover’s head pops up and his ears pin back. Something is wrong …

When your characters come in from a long day at the office, be sure to have the pets meet them. If they don’t, something may be wrong. Or use them to bring estranged family members together … or those who are simply on the “outs.”

But don’t forget them. They could make your story even better than you could have imagined.

Like Harvey.
Question for Discussion:
Famous dogs in literature include Argos, To To, Lassie, and Buck.
Famous cats include Buttercup and “Cat.”
Famous horses include Pilgrim, Napolena, and The Pie.

Can you think of other animals who “made” a great story even better?


Eva Marie is a multiple award-winning author and speaker. She is one of the original five Orlando Word Weavers critique group members, an international and national group made up of critique chapters. She served as the original president from 2000 to 2007 and is now president of Word Weavers International, Inc. Eva Marie served as a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild for several years and has taught at a number of writers conferences nationwide. During the 2010-2011 school year, Eva Marie served as an adjunct professor at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She describes it as one of the best times she ever had while working. Eva Marie also serves as director of Florida Christian Writers Conference (along with Mark Hancock).

She is both a past and current student at Andersonville Theological Seminary where she plans to receive her Masters in Old Testament Theology sometime before her ninetieth birthday. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they are owned by one very spoiled dog, a funky chicken, and two hearts-full of grandchildren.

*Carol Award Winner for The Potluck Club
**ICRS Gold Medallion Finalist
***Multiple awards, including 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award & Maggie Award (Chasing Sunsets), 2013 Maggie Award & 2013 Christy finalist for Waiting for Sunrise, 2014 AWSA Golden Scroll Award (Slow Moon Rising), 2015 AWSA Golden Scroll Award (The Road to Testament)
****CBA Bestseller List several months running and a finalist for Retailers Choice Awards, 2013

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