The Ultimate All Show-No Tell Character

What kind of character forces a writer to show every aspect of his personality with action?  Animals.

That’s right, animals can be characters.  Damned good ones, too, as I learned accidentally while writing She Can Run.

Animals have zero internal narrative and, except for the occasional woof or meow, they can’t express their feelings with dialogue.

The challenge for the writer is to make the animal into a real character, not just a filler or a device to make your hero more likeable, which was my intention when I started She Can Run.

In She Can Run, the hero’s police dog reject developed his own character arc, entirely through action. I’d like to say I planned this from the beginning, but the truth of the matter is that Henry wrote his own script as the book progressed.  What started out as a device became more and more important to the plot every day. During the course of the story, Henry grew to love the heroine as much as my hero.

And love changed Henry.

But the tricky part was showing Henry change. After all, he couldn’t profess his love verbally. Tail wags just didn’t seem adequate.  I won’t give away just how I accomplished this because it would be a major spoiler, but Henry became a hero.

Writers, have you ever written an animal as a character?  Readers, have you ever fallen in love with an animal character?

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2 responses to “The Ultimate All Show-No Tell Character

  1. Ha, ha! Yes, I have written several children’s books where the characters are animals! Great fun. As far as falling in love with an animal character–are you kidding? I read every Jim Kjelgard and Jack London book in the library! I adored My Friend Flica…but those titles sort of date me!

  2. OMG,Carol. Me, too. And The Black Stallion series!

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