Deepen Your Character: Get a Dog

Pets are those non judging, devoted friends we often turn to when life is handing out lemons. They hold no grudges, never tell you the outfit you’re wearing makes you look fat and are warm and furry for the most part. When you’re inventing a fictional character, one easy way to deepen the reader’s sympathy for him/her is to give the character a pet.
Writing Tip for Today: Believe it or not, pets (especially dogs and cats) tug on a reader’s heartstrings and transfer their “aaw” factor to the character (unless the character kicks said cute pet). Adding deeper emotional gut appeal is a sure-fire way to get your reader more hopelessly hooked on the character’s plight. A pet also gives your character someone to talk to in those lonely scenes where he/she’s the only one on stage. A furry friend (don’t know if this works with the snakes, scorpions and tarantulas I never did let my boys have as pets) can also humanize an antagonist. How a person treats an animal is a way we all gauge a character’s character. Want to add value to your character’s situation and deepen the emotional reaction of the reader? Give your character a dog, cat, ferret or mouse. Unless you want aaw to turn to eek!, skip the snakes, scorpions or tarantulas. No offense, arachnid lovers.

Try This! In your work-in-progress, add a pet to the main character’s life. How does this change the story? Add a different type of pet. How is the story different now?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

3 comments on “Deepen Your Character: Get a Dog

  1. I love reading stories that have animals written into them! They can be an integral part of a story, or just add a little humor in the back ground. Either way, I think they are wonderful additions.


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