I’m talking about the non-human variety. Be it a dog, cat, horse, or even a fish, the companion you pick for a character tells the reader something about that character. Spend time selecting the perfect pet by digging deep into your character’s backstory.
Did they always want a pet but weren’t allowed one or did they grow up with animals as part of the family? Or were all the animals a means to an end, a working cow horse or maybe a hunting dog that was never allowed in the house?
Things to keep in mind when you develop this non-human companion: How did he or she acquire that pet? What does it mean to him or her? What is it named? Male or female? Big or little? Color and breed? Well-behaved or a constant source of mischief? Does the pet reflect characteristics of its owner, or not? Why or how did they pick this particular pet? Did they choose it, or did they inherit it from a favorite or hated relative? Is it purebred or of unknown parentage?
An animal provides a wonderful way for you to show, not tell, more about your characters. Why that particular animal? What does it represent to that person? Unconditional love, obligation, duty or a painful reminder of someone lost? Can the pet be a metaphor for issues the character is trying to work out? Does the animal reflect hidden characteristics, or does it represents where your character needs to be at the end of their transformation?
As a writer, you need to do your research if you don’t have any first-hand experience with that particular animal. In my current work in progress I have a twelve-year old boy who has a ferret.
The relationship between the character and pet can be almost mystical like the Black Stallion and Alec Ramsay,
So, do you have any favorite character companions? What makes them memorable to you?