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?
I’m tackling interview questions for my November/December blog tour. Yes, I know its 2 months away, but I’ve told you before that I’m a geek. I always had my homework and term papers done way ahead of time. Otherwise I can’t think because I feel like Wile E. Coyote with an anvil poised over his head.
Anyway, the best piece of advice I can give any beginning writer is to join a writers’ organtization. Yesterday I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers meeting. I can’t describe how good it felt to mingle with other writers, to have them cheer when I held up the gorgeous ARC (advanced reader copy) of my debut novel, She Can Run, to pick the brains of the experienced authors in the group. (Thank you, Caridad Pineiro, yet again.)
Writing is a solitary life, but writers need to leave their writing caves and mingle with other humans occasionally. But books are about people and relationships and the outside world. How do we write about these things if we’re holed up in our PJs guzzling coffee and muttering to the dogs for months on end? Professional organizations also provide important resources to help writers in all states improve their craft, learn to promote, and talk about what happening in the business. Liberty States Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America have both been instrumental in helping me with my career.
So, that’s my big piece of advice: join a professional organization. For those of you with experience in the writing world, what advice can you give to beginning writers? For the newbies out there, what’s your biggest obstacle?
If anyone has other writing organizations they’d like to list here, go for it!
Posted in General blog, Writer's Life, Writing Tips
Tagged beginning writers, Caridad Pineiro, liberty states fiction writers, melinda leigh, new writers, romance writers of america, RWA, She Can Run, writers, writing, writing advice