Exclusive Guest Blog from author Gill Lewis
Gill Lewis is a multi-award winning children’s author who writes about animals, the natural world and our human place within it. Her recent book, A Street Dog Named Pup is the story about an abandoned pup’s search for the boy he loves, and the canine characters who help him on the way.
So, you want to write an animal character? Where do you start?
Well, first choose your animal, of course. Then you have to decide how close to the actual animal your animal character will be. Will it be represented as that animal in its natural environment? Or will it wear clothes, drive a car, etc and be essentially a human that looks like an animal? How much will you anthropomorphise (attribute human qualities to) your animal?
There is no right or wrong answer. It depends upon your story. But for your reader to believe it has your chosen animal’s qualities you will have to do a bit of research. What is your animal’s natural habitat? Is it a solitary or group animal? Predator or prey? What is its natural behaviour? What does it eat? How does it move?
Close your eyes and imagine.
Become that animal.
Consider its heightened senses and how it might compare to a human’s. Maybe it is a hawk with excellent long distant vision. Maybe it’s a bat with ultrasonic hearing. How does it feel the world around it? Try to imagine being a bird soaring high with warm thermal winds ruffling its feathers, or a penguin racing through the cold Antarctic waters, evading a leopard seal.
In A Street Dog Named Pup I wanted to show the loyalty dogs feel towards humans and each other. I tried to see the world from the perspective of a street dog. I imagined running with a pack of abandoned dogs through the city streets.
There is a saying, that to understand someone, you must walk a mile in their shoes. To understand animals, and empathise with them, maybe we need to fly with their wings, run with their paws, and swim with their fins. Maybe in writing animal characters into fiction, we can learn to understand their needs and create a better world for them too.
A Street Dog Named Pup is out now! Head over to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out how to win a copy between 21st and 24th Feb 2022! Share your animal characters with us too, we'd love to hear about them!