The topic for this post came about due to the project I’ve been working on for the past few days. The book is the sequel to Adela’s Curse, and is titled The Wolf Prince. In case the title didn’t give it away, a young prince is turned into a wolf by a sorcerer and a quest ensues.
So, animals are characters too. In this book, Prince Killian becomes a wolf. Obviously this particular animal is a character. But, by now being a wolf, he can understand other animals. Also along on the quest is his brother’s war horse, Jeppe. Now Killian can interact with the humans on the quest (although sadly, he cannot talk), and the animals he meets. What’s really fun about all this, is you get imagine what animals think about everything. This is the easy and obvious example of how animals are characters, but what about stories with completely normal animals?
As a writer you can’t ignore the animals. A thing that occasionally annoys me in books is that animals become passive, well behaved lumps that follow meekly along on quests. If you’ve spent time around animals you know that they’ve all got personalities. Take horses for example. Even the most well-trained steed will spook at something. Some horses are just jumpy in general. There’s the horse that comes to meet you at the pasture gate. There’s also the horse that sees you coming and heads to the very back of the pasture and waits for you to come get him. And let’s not forget the horse that doesn’t seem to notice you walloping its sides with your heels as hard as you can.
If your character has been around a horse for awhile, he/she’s going to have a bond with it. So when you send your character on a long quest with their trusty steed, they’re going to need to do more than just hop on every morning and head out for another day of boring riding.
Same goes for dogs. We have two dogs. One is the guard dog, the other is the “I’ll wait by the door and protect the humans from here while you get the scary thing”. And there’s all sorts in between.
Most of you probably already know this. But as animal lover, I enjoy seeing animals come to life in stories. Try infusing your animal characters with a little life. You might be surprised at what you come up with.