Some Write It Hot

December 15, 2010

Furbabies and Writers by Cherise Sinclair

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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Why your human writers should include pets in their stories

–an instructional article for fellow felines by the Calico – aka She Who Rules

I’ve been supervising my human’s reading material recently. I’m distressed at how many stories lack the most important characters of all–the pets. Yes, I realize that animals should be charitable toward their human’s short-sighted natures–after all, they can’t even see in the dark–nonetheless, a book should reflect the world, and in America, over sixty percent of American households contain a pet.

So why have I found books where none of the major characters own a cat or even–if they must display such poor taste–a dog? Truly, humans do need direction.

Being of a literary nature, I have assisted my human with this simple task. She tends to start off a story with boring humans…the hero, the heroine, and various two-legged friends. Bleah. If she continues with her narrow-minded plotting too long, I put my paw down. Usually no more is needed. Remember to show patience; use claws only if your human ignores to ignore a mild admonition. Disembowelment for a first offense is excessive. (yes, I’m talking about you, Mittens)

Below, I will list several ways in which an animal brings a story to life, so you can instruct your human. As kittens learn best by watching it done correctly, I will also provide examples for you.

To enhance a personality: Have you even noticed how two-dimensional some humans *cough* I mean, characters–can be? As I’ve shown Cherise, having a hero own a pet adds another, very appealing dimension. For example, in Club Shadowlands, Master Z appears like this:

Smooth black hair, silvering at the temples, just touching his collar. Dark gray eyes with laugh lines at the corners. A lean, hard face with the shadow of a beard adding a hint of roughness. He wore tailored black slacks and a black silk shirt that outlined hard muscles underneath. If Ben was a Rottweiler, this guy was a jaguar, sleek and deadly.”

[As an aside, I rather liked the above comparison–Cherise thought of it all by herself. I was quite proud and brought her a wonderful helping of nice, warm mouse guts to reward her. Please note that it’s almost as important to reward a two-legger as it is to reprimand her. ]

So, we now have a rich, good-looking human. Nice enough writing, but we can do better. Add in a feline to give him a history and a soft heart:

“Ah, about time. I was wondering if you were going to make an appearance,” Sir said to the cat, kneeling to pet it. He looked up. “May I introduce Galahad?”

“Galahad?” she said in disbelief. That had to be the biggest and ugliest cat she’d ever seen, and she’d seen some monsters at the shelter.

“He’s a very chivalrous fellow.”

Jessica knelt on the floor and held out a finger to be delicately sniffed. In approval, the cat nudged her hand, curveted closer to be petted. “You must be quite a fighter.” She frowned at the chewed-on ears and scarred nose.

“He’s been with me about five years, ever since I found him raiding the garbage cans. He was big then, has grown even more since.”

She would never have picked him as a person who would adopt a stray cat. She didn’t know him at all, did she?

To liven up a thinking scene: How often are there tedious scenes where the characters are simply sitting and thinking? Not even grooming–appalling, isn’t it? It’s much more interesting if the heroine has a pet to give her some advice since, face it, humans are notoriously lacking in common sense.

Even if Jake had come, she wasn’t going to roll over like an idiot dog who’d love a person no matter how badly he treated it. She stopped beside Mufasa. “I’m no dog—I’m a cat. Kick me and I’ll walk away, right, Mufasa?”

A furry head butted her leg in agreement.

To improve descriptions: Do the descriptions of hero or heroine lack a certain oomph? Comparing an animal to a human can be revealing. I fear the human usually comes off less appealing than the pet, but, as I’ve said before, stories should be based on reality.

Here’s Logan from Master of the Mountain:

“Right.” She forced her feet forward, one hard-won step after another. Where was the dog? As the man behind the desk shook hands with Matt, Rebecca checked the floor. There. Standing beside the man, it looked huge, with dark brown fur and a darker muzzle. It stared at her, and she heard another rumble.

“Thor,” the man said, his low voice almost a match for the dog’s. “Down.”

The dog flattened to the floor. It never stopped looking at her, though.

“Rebecca, eyes on me, not the dog.” The deep, rough voice broke her free, and she turned to the owner. He looked as mean as his dog, with steel blue eyes in a deeply tanned face—a ruthless face decorated with a day-old beard and a white scar below his left cheekbone. After handing her a pen, he tapped the paper in front of him. “Name and address. Signature on the release.”

My human does struggle sometimes against my gentle direction. For example, she’d planned a simple Dom finds sub in his private dungeon-type story. Very straight-forward–can we say boring? I pointed out that the plot needed a reason for the rich Dominant to have a middle-class submissive in his home. After a little prodding and effort on my part (tail-lashings, ignoring her presence, hacking up hairballs) Cherise gave in. She came up with a rather brilliant reason: to take care of the owner’s dog. I did feel it was a shame she used a dog, but logical–no self-respecting feline would need a babysitter.

So the heroine became a veterinarian, and that led to a fine parade of animals through the story. I did have to throw a hissy fit to get a feline added. Really, a cat can enhance the showing of a character’s problems and back story far better than any drooling canine. Here’s Mac and Alex in The Dom’s Dungeon:

To top off the wreck of her day, she heard footsteps. Alex was home.

And this wasn’t her home. What was I thinking?

Her stomach sank. He’d probably order her right out of his house. The clawing worry in her stomach duplicated the tiny claws digging into her forearm. The kitten had seen Butler.

“Easy, kitling,” she murmured. “I don’t think he eats cats.” But she didn’t know, now did she? “Butler,” she said firmly. “Behave.” She turned so the cat was out of the dog’s sight and vice versa.

Alex walked around the corner with that easy grace and power, and her heart did that funny dip like it did every time she saw him. Maybe she had a heart condition.

“How did the day go?” he asked; then his eyes narrowed, and he moved forward. “What’s wrong, little vet?”

Caught. Caught dead to rights. When she was a kid, she’d rescued a half-starved puppy and brought it to the foster home. Arlene had thrown it out. “This is my home, not yours.” That night, Mac had sneaked out and found the puppy still in the front yard. So little. All bones and big eyes. She’d carried him across town to the animal rescue and cried all the way back. You would think she’d have learned.

Of course, Alex liked animals. Maybe… Her stomach tightened, and she looked down. Anything to avoid his eyes. This was Alex’s home. Not hers. If he liked cats, he’d have one.

He huffed a laugh, and she looked up in time to get a firm kiss on her lips. “I’m not sure which of you is shaking harder,” he murmured, disengaging the kitten’s claws with an easy competence. “Butler, lie down,” he ordered absently when the dog’s approach triggered a tiny hiss.

“I’m sorry,” Mac whispered, looking at the antique furnishings. “It’s just for tonight, and then I’ll try to find him a home. He was in the middle of Mercer Street, and I couldn’t leave him. If you don’t want him in the house, then…” Maybe she could sneak him into a motel.

He gave her a puzzled look. “MacKensie, if you could have left a kitten in the middle of the road, then you aren’t the woman I thought you were.”

See? Now didn’t that add a lot to MacKensie’s and Alex’s characters?

Finally, a word of warning. If and when pets get added into stories, do NOT let your human forget them. All too often an appealing pet appears in a story, but, as the idiotic author gets wrapped up in the romance, the animal disappears. Excuse my hissing, but that’s as disgusting as when a two-legger forgets mealtimes.

I realize the sacrifice I’m asking you all to make, but my friends, it’s imperative to keep an eye on your human writers. For example, Cherise once tried to write a story without consulting me, and obviously needed closer supervision. So I now spend my days warming my paws on her lap. She’s learned to type with one arm pinned under my body–even old humans can be taught new tricks–and if she doesn’t remember to pet me in repayment for my dedication to duty, I flick my tail against the screen. (Have you ever noticed how effective a tail is when used on the tailless? Be sure to teach this to your kittens.)

Well, if you’ll excuse us, I believe this article can come to an end. And I need to reward my human for her dedication to duty. Hmm. Perhaps I’ll let her feed me some of that chicken she cooked last night.

For the latest on what Cherise is up to visit her website

7 Comments »

  1. Oh, you sly fox! (No insult intended to Calico or Cherise.) And Cali, I can call you Cali right? I couldn’t agree more…except for the part about dogs in stories. To that I say GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    Comment by Debbie Vaughan — December 15, 2010 @ 05:49 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Debbie! The calico states she has too much dignity to tolerate a shortened name–that’s like cutting off someone’s tail. Hisssssss. And you growled at her? Ooooh, you’re in so much trouble, girl. LOL

    Comment by Cherise Sinclair — December 15, 2010 @ 12:33 | Reply

  3. I couldn’t agree more with your feline wisdom. I love to have pets in my books they are sometimes the most revealing characters of all.

    Comment by Lillian Grant — December 15, 2010 @ 13:56 | Reply

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lillian grant, Cherise Sinclair. Cherise Sinclair said: My cat wrote a scathing blog with suggestions for #writers on the benefits/ ways to include pets in your stories. http://tinyurl.com/2doy4c3 […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Furbabies and Writers by Cherise Sinclair « Some Write It Hot -- Topsy.com — December 15, 2010 @ 14:38 | Reply

  5. Thank you, Calico, for the wonderful insight into how to, if even for a short time, please a feline 😉

    Comment by Elaina Lee — December 15, 2010 @ 14:59 | Reply

    • Elaina, the Calico says, thank you, and tapped her food bowl with an aristocatic paw in a subtle hint…just in case you wanted to start practicing your ‘pleasing a feline’ lessons.

      Comment by Cherise Sinclair — December 15, 2010 @ 17:49 | Reply

  6. Thanks, Lillian! I swear, sometimes they’re pushier than the Doms.

    Comment by Cherise Sinclair — December 15, 2010 @ 17:46 | Reply


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