Home > Columns > The Write Life by Rebecca Forster > What a Dog: why you need a pet in your book

My granddog Tucker & Max roll model

Today a lady wrote to tell me she loved my book Hostile Witness* because I hadn’t killed Max. I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few weeks and it took me a minute to figure out who Max was and why it was so important to her that he was alive. Max, of course, is Josie Bates’ dog; Josie is the heroine of the Witness Series. The reader’s concern for Max made me wonder why a book that includes an animal is richer, more entertaining, and more engaging than one without?

The answer is simple. Pets provide a natural assist in plot, dialogue and emotional content.

Max-the-Dog (his legal name) was originally created as a reflection of Josie Bates, his mistress. Both Max and Josie had been abandoned, had to fight for their lives, and were protective of others. As the series unfolded, though, Max became so much more than Josie’s mirror. Here are four ways Max contributed to the success of the Witness Series:

Max kicked up human action/reaction: Those who attack him were inherently more evil than a bad guy who ignored him. Those who love Max were more admirable because they cared for and protect him.

Max was a great listener:Internal dialogue can be tedious. However, speculation, rhetorical questions, or monologues sound natural when directed at pets.

Max changed the tone: A scene tone can be set by the way a human character speaks to or interacts with an animal counterpart. A whispered warning creates a much different tone than a screaming command; a languid pet conjures up different visions than a playful ruffling of fur.

Max moved the plot forward:An animal’s needs can change a human character’s trajectory. In Privileged Witness, when Josie takes Max out for his evening constitutional they find her fugitive client hiding outside. Without Max, Josie would have no reason to go outside and never would have discovered her client. An animal’s heightened senses can also warn of danger or alert a human to a change in their surroundings without the scene seeming forced.

From The Hound of the Baskervilles to Lassie and Blue Dog, My Friend Flicka and The Black Stallion, The Cheshire Cat and Puss-in-Boots, animals have frolicked as humans, served to reflect human frailties and strengths, and just plain worked their way into reader’s hearts.

So, to the kind lady who was concerned about Max, have no fear. He will never come to a violent end. No matter what happens to him, his presence or lack thereof, will be a decision motivated by story and plot and, of course, love. Max has sat at my psychic feet with every Witness Series book.

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Author Bio
Author Bio
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • A ‘Wrich” Experience
    My granddog Tucker & Max roll model Today a lady wrote to tell me she loved my book Hostile Witness* because I hadn’t killed Max. I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few weeks and it took me a minute to figure out who Max was and why it was so important to her […]
  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

BEFORE HER EYES

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BEFORE HER EYES

BEYOND MALICE

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BEYOND MALICE

CHARACTER WITNESS

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CHARACTER WITNESS

DARK WITNESS

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DARK WITNESS

DISTANT RELATIONS

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DISTANT RELATIONS

DREAMS: The 90s Collection

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DREAMS: The 90s Collection

EXPERT WITNESS

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EXPERT WITNESS

EYEWITNESS

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EYEWITNESS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

FORGOTTEN WITNESS

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FORGOTTEN WITNESS

HOSTILE WITNESS

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HOSTILE WITNESS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

KEEPING COUNSEL

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KEEPING COUNSEL
LOST WITNESS: A Josie Bates Thriller

PRIVILEGED WITNESS

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PRIVILEGED WITNESS

SEASONS: The 90s Collection

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SEASONS: The 90s Collection

SECRET RELATIONS

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SECRET RELATIONS

SEVERED RELATIONS

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SEVERED RELATIONS

SILENT WITNESS

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SILENT WITNESS
THE BAILEY DEVLIN TRILOGY: BOOK 1-3 (The Bailey Devlin Series)
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S HOROSCOPE CAME TRUE
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S SHIP CAME IN
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN PICKED UP A PENNY

THE MENTOR

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THE MENTOR
THE RECKLESS ONES: The 90s Collection

VANITIES: The 90s Collection

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VANITIES: The 90s Collection

VOWS: The 90s Collection

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VOWS: The 90s Collection

Sign up for my spam-free newsletter and get Hostile Witness and the Spotlight Novella, Hannah’s Diary, FREE. Or get Hostile Witness FREE at your favorite online bookstore.

LET’S CONNECT!

Subscribe and get my 2-book starter library FREE:

Follow me on Bookbub!

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Amazon

Visit me at: http://rebeccaforster.com/

If you like a cop with a brogue and an attitude try the new Finn O’Brien Thrillers! Severed Relations is FREE!

 

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She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • Veronica Jorge says:

    Hi Rebecca, Sherlock had Watson, Abbot had Costello. Every great show or book often has a partner or side-kick so I guess a dog could really work. Oh yeah, let’s not forget Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
    I signed up for your newsletter Can’t wait to read Hostile Witness and Hannah’s Diary. Thanks for the two freebies!

  • taristhread says:

    Tucker makes a great Max the Dog! Love this post, you’ve got my wheels turning.

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