Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday on Pets

I am a fan of big dogs. Labs, retrievers, St. Bernard, et cetera--I'd probably get along very well with Marmaduke. My dog (a yellow lab) happens to be one of my favorite beings in existence. Yet none of my main characters, so far, have had any pet at all, much less a dog.

I mean, I can understand the rest of the pets not making an appearance. I like animals, but don't see myself running off to adopt cats/birds/hamsters later in life. However, I will definitely be getting some sort of large dog. (Preferably lab.) So why hasn't this made it into a story?

Maybe it's because my stories tend to have some sad themes. And adorable large dogs don't fit well into sad scenes. Even if I could make my character have no reaction to the appearance of Adorable Large Dog, I would start grinning while writing and then probably go pet my dog and then finish the scene which would cause an unintentional but likely unavoidable mood shift from sad-talking-about-sad-stuff to weirdly-happy-talking-about-sad-stuff. My head just wouldn't be in the sadness game. Because really, who cares about Main Character's angst over lost love or missing friends or fake reality or saving the world when THIS walks into the room?

Okay, maybe Adorable large Dog won't be all wet. But who knows, maybe Main Character has a pool in her house?
So why don't you give Main Character a different kind of pet, Kieryn?

What? Who are you? And how dare you suggest that absurd idea? I don't think I could muster up enough character emotions to make Main Character care as much about any other sort of pet. And then Main Character would seem somewhat apathetic or fakely (yes, I can use that word) attached to this pet that is not a large dog. And then I'd be annoyed, because what's the point of having the pet there in the first place if Main Character doesn't even care that much? Unless Other Pet is a plot device, a very important plot device, it'll probably be more hassle than it's worth.

However, some fictional pets have worked out brilliantly. Hedwig, for example (if she can even be considered a "pet"--she kind of ran her own show). But the cuteness factor didn't really get in the way there. A typical reaction to "snowy owl" is not usually "awwwwwwwwwwwww."

Do you find fictional pets work well, or not?