WHAT A DOG!

April 15, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , , with 0 and 0
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My grand-dog Tucker
Recently, a fan wrote to tell me she loved my book Hostile Witness* because I hadn’t killed Max as she expected. 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 is Josie Bates’ dog; Josie is the heroine of the witness series. I was touched by the reader’s concern for the fictional canine, Max, and that made me wonder: Why is a book that includes an animal richer, more entertaining, and more engaging than one without?
The answer was simple: Animals bring out the best and the worst in a human character. This makes for great drama and provides an emotional touch point that is critical for an exciting read.

Max-the-Dog (his legal name) was originally created as a reflection of Josie, his mistress. Both had been abandoned, both had to fight for their lives, both were protective of others. But Max became so much more than Josie’s mirror as the series unfolded.

 Here are four ways Max made a difference in the witness series:


MAX ENHANCED HUMAN CHARACTERIZATION: 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 AN ANIMATED SOUNDING BOARD: Internal dialogue can be tedious. If an author allows a character to speculate to an animal, the rhetorical questions or monologues sound natural.

MAX’S PRESENCE SET A 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 HELPED MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD: An animal’s needs can put a human in a place they might not have been in. For instance, in Privileged Witness (book #3), Josie takes Max out for his evening constitutional and alerts her to her fugitive client who was 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 assist a human to warn of danger or alert a human to a change in their surroundings.

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 because of their own character. 

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, because Max is as real to me as if he sat at my feet while I wrote my stories.

*Hostile Witnessis free for all e-readers and is available in print and audio. It was recently released in France.  

Author Details
Author Details
A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
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    A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
    My grand dog Tucker

    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 three 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. I was touched by the reader’s concern for the fictional canine.

    As an author and a reader I had to ask myself: Why is a book that includes animals richer, more entertaining, and more engaging than one without? The answer was simple: Animals bring out the best and the worst in a human character. This makes for great drama and provides an emotional touch point that is critical for an exciting read.

    Max-the-Dog (his legal name) was originally created as a reflection of Josie, his mistress. Both had been abandoned, both had to fight for their lives, both were protective of others. But Max became so much more than Josie’s mirror as the series unfolded.

    Here are four ways Max made a difference in the witness series:

    HE ENHANCED HUMAN CHARACTERIZATION: 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.

    HE WAS AN ANIMATED SOUNDING BOARD: Internal dialogue can be tedious. Allow a character to speculate to an animal and the rhetorical questions or monologues sound natural.

    HIS PRESENCE SET A 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.

    HE HELPED MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD: An animal’s needs can put a human in a place they might not have been in. For instance, in Privileged Witness, Josie took Max out for his evening constitutional and ran into her fugitive client who was 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 assist a human to warn of danger or alert a human to a change in their surroundings.

    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 because of who they are.

    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, because Max is as real to me as if he sat at my feet while I wrote my stories.

    *Hostile Witness is free for all e-readers and is also available in print.

    Author Details
    Author Details
    A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
    On Sale

    Books on sale or free

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    Buy now!
    Redheaded Ruminations

    STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT

    Buy now!
    STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT
    INTIMATE RELATIONS
    THIEVES: Book One of the Obscurité de Floride Trilogy
    FUR, FEATHERS AND SCALES: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales

    SAVAGED SURRENDER

    Buy now!
    SAVAGED SURRENDER
    WHO’S THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology
    SNOW IN LOVE: Sweet Romance Holiday Collection

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    Buy now!
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    FATHOMS: A NOVEL OF THE PARANORMAL

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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    THE ROGUE’S LAST SCANDAL

    Buy now!
    THE ROGUE’S LAST SCANDAL
    2019

    HER COWBOY KING

    Buy now!
    HER COWBOY KING
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    THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIDGE, NEW YORK, 1930

    THE MASK OF MIDNIGHT

    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
    THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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    Buy now!
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      ×
      A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
    • Anonymous says:

      Didn't some famous screenwriter once say "Don't kill the dog?"
      What I've observed is it's sometimes easier to fuss over a dog than a person, and we're far more likely to cry about a dog–maybe it's a cathartic release?
      Since I went to the dogs long ago it's something I've thought about a lot