Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Four Reasons to Include Dogs and Cats in Adult Fiction

By AB Plum

Writing noir stories short on violence, but long on psychological darkness, I often take a break to read something light or uplifting. I recently finished The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Racing-Rain-Novel-ebook/). I cried often.

When I finished the last sentence, I closed the book and thought about why I include dogs or cats in my romantic comedies and also in my darker psychological thrillers. 

1.  Dogs and cats bring out the best in my male characters. The four-legged characters have all come from shelters or “adopted” the hero.

Subtext: These guys—or in two instances young boys—vulnerable for many reasons, caring for their furry companions, show the reader they also take time to care for someone besides themselves.

2.  Dogs and cats can increase or decrease tension—especially sexual tension between the Hero and Heroine. In two of my novels, old, abandoned cats fall for the Heroine just like the Hero does.      

Subtext: Woe unto the Heroine who doesn’t like the Hero’s feline.

3.  Dogs and cats offer unconditional love to kids caught up in the twists and turns of the plot. Little boys can play Frisbee or chase with a dog and forget his parents’ divorce or his father’s disappearance. A teen-age girl, on the other hand, prefers a cat because they—frankly— smell better.

Subtext: Cats are a lot like teen-age girls: Wannabe divas. Dogs are a lot like five-and-six-year-old males:  Seekers of physical distraction.

4. Dogs and cats provide lots of chances to inject humor—often physical. Even on the darkest pages I write, I want to offer at least a ray of light. 

Subtext: A smile or a chuckle often works as well as a belly laugh to give the reader a bit of relief.

What about you, do you prefer all your characters to be human[oid]? Shoot me a yes-or-no reply:  ab@abplum.com. I answer all my email.

Accompanied by canine-companions in Southern Missouri, I developed a love of walking fast. Disregarding my Creative Writing prof’s advice, I wrote about the death of a favorite dog and received a C+. Maybe I’ve found the origins of this blog.

Coming in mid-October, The Early Years, the first serial installment of The MisFit Series. No dogs or cats until Book 4.

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