I have a dog, a bunch of birds, and a couple feral cats. I walk with another dog owner. I meet with bird lovers every month. My Goddaughter has a sweet cat. I check out cat pictures on the internet. And I have friends who have horses, goats, aquarium fish, tortoises, snakes, and lizards. I know very few people who do not have pets of some kind. So if all my characters do not have pets, they seem less human, somehow. I mean, how many times have you seen something mentioned in the last two years about the only president to not have a dog?
I mentioned this to my in-person writing group, and while they agree it’s different, they also wonder how much wordage would be needed that doesn’t contribute to the story but is about letting the dog out, letting the dog back in, cleaning the cat box, riding the horse and then brushing him or her.
As my NaNo project is a rewriting of Crazy for Trying, I wonder if I should add a kitten wandering into the house or something like that. I would have to remind myself there’s a kitten involved as we go along. But I know Adam and Valerie would love the intruder, and Adam’s son AJ would be thrilled. And there’s the whole Save the Cat objective when the bad guy delivers a bomb to the house.
My sequel to that story, Crazy for Lying, takes place on a cruise ship, so unless a dolphin or an octopus takes a liking to the main characters, I can skip that one. The third book, Crazy for Loving You, has a germophobe hero. He’d go insaner if the heroine’s kids had a dog. Done!
With the Regency stories, there are always horses about and dogs running in the streets and kittens being born in the stables. The wonderful teacher, Marion Jones, warned historical Romance writers to never have the heroine find a kitten. It is an overdone layer and serves very little purpose. I was writing my first Regency at the time, the one that doesn’t deserve seeing the light of day in its present form, and of course I had a litter of kittens involved and the secondary character selecting one to keep.
Now what do I do? Wait, aren’t piglets as smart as puppies? What if she has a pet piglet she rescued from the farmer’s butcher yard and wants to train to be her pet. It’s not unusual for Regency characters to have unusual pets like that. So the kitten turned into a piglet and was conveniently dumped at the hero’s estate to be treated like royalty all the days of his life.
All the characters I work with will have a pet or two, because the world makes more sense with our animal friends involved. The more real the world, the more likely the story will be interesting. I probably won’t use a were-terrier again, but even the cruise ship characters can talk about missing the dog or cat left with friends or a boarding kennel. What pets do your characters have?
By the way, the title of this post is stolen from the amazing television show, Will & Grace. I loved the whole conversation around that so much, I have never forgotten it. That’s good writing and great acting. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.