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  1. I’m not so keen on using fast mental tags in writing. That sort of technique works well in cinema where time us an issue, but in novel length fiction the author has time to flesh out the characters better than a few cliches.
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    1. For the important characters, of course. I meant more for background characters. For example, if a book were about a basketball character, we’d know there are other players on the team. It’s likely that we wouldn’t get to know each character at great length, because it wouldn’t serve the story. (Naturally, this depends on the story.) But for the background characters, it’s enough to know they play basketball. So a reader can assume they are athletic. That they own sneakers. They can jump and dribble a ball and such.

      For characters important to the story, naturally fleshing them out and avoiding cliches is important. But sometimes a quick run down helps. Like the scene in Mean Girls with the cafeteria map. It was short and to the point, and easy to understand. It moved the story along, instead of bogging it down with an introduction of every person that went to the school. The main characters were fleshed out as the story went on, but the quick mental tag gave the audience a fast idea to hang on to until vital characters could be fleshed out. It works as a building tool for certain characters.

      Much like an actual building can be created this way. The hole in the ground for a skyscraper is much deeper than one for a trailer home. The reader gets a quick idea of either building with just those words. But maybe that skyscraper is built and turns out to be an extension of Hell, because the Devil wanted a penthouse view. And maybe that trailer home is going to be a meth lab where a cancer-ridden high school chemistry teacher is going to cook meth. The personality comes out as the story goes on. But a quick idea of what something looks like can save unnecessary words. That’s what I’m talking about here.

      Hope that helps.

    • Hilary on April 1, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    Hi J – animals can add to the character in the story … and yes if I heard about Kangaroos – I’d think of Ox .. cheers and enjoy the A-Z .. Hilary
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    1. Yup. Some animals just bring certain places to mind.

  2. Good point. Your examples make it so clear, and give me something else to think about.
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    1. I’m glad to have given you thoughts.

  3. I like using animals in stories. My favourite aren’t real though – I love dragons 🙂

    Happy A to Z,

    Sophie
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    1. I love dragons too!

  4. I’d never thought about the importance of animals in a setting before, but you make a good point. Thanks for sharing!
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    1. Thank you.

  5. The main character in my current WIP has a donkey. The donkey definitely has a personality 🙂
    Happy A to Z! Looking forward to your posts!

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    1. Wild Magic is a fantasy novel by Tamora Pierce where the animals are certainly characters.

      Way to go with your donkey!

  6. Animals are such an important piece of the landscape of the story… I think they can also be a good way to keep readers on their toes. A character with a non-cliched pet might give you a pause and tell you somethinf unique about the character.
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    1. Those are always the best examples. Seeing some “man’s man” with an “alpha job” out walking his dog, and the dog turns out to be one of those “purse-poodles” … that will always get a double take and a moment of extra attention. It’s a fun way to hook a reader.

  7. Great post. I never thought about using pets as a character development tool; something to remember!
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    1. Happy to bring new ideas to your head.

  8. This is a very informative post. I don’t think that I’ve every thought about it, but I do include animals to enhance my setting. Alligators, snakes & egrets for example to show the Louisiana bayous. You make such a good point. You read about a couple with a yellow lab or a golden retriever and you get a certain image in your mind. If you read about a couple with several rottweilers and pitbulls (I spelled both of those wrong), all chained up to a clothes line outside and your clearly get a different image in your mind. This was an eye opening read for me. Thank you.
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    1. Yes, exactly. I’m glad I could get the mind-wheels turning for you. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Hey
    Great article.. I really never thought like this..

    Well, thanks for this .It will gives us new ideas to make cool stories.

    Thums up….

    lorraine

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