So did I say my next fiction book I’m writing is about dogs? I had no idea what I was letting myself in for (having up until now written murder mysteries in the whodunnit genre involving the two legged). Trying to write dog voices, I felt at the start like I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I wondered if putting human characters into the story to help move it along might help, but that just made the waters muddy and not to my liking, so they have remained peripheral. I’ll only know later if that was a mistake!
Then I had ideas in my head about so many dog characters to write about. How on earth would the reader remember them all? And what exactly do dogs speak like anyway? (and what makes me an authority?) This was the most important point. Never having had a conversation in the English language with a dog that went both ways was going to be a limit surely!
Having said that, the addition of a puppy into our home has given me ample experiences to watch and listen to her reactions with other dogs (and with people). And I have been blessed with those reactions in spades. One thing I have been reminded of is that dogs are much smarter than they first appear (I always believed it to be so, and am experiencing this lesson every day as my dog trains me). They get to know human habits and manners and adapt to their advantage (if they are lucky and not mistreated). Another thing I’ve learned is that all the dogs are so very different. We meet many on our walks, living in the centre of a city with parks and plenty of open spaces. The young ones in the main are excited, bouncy and happy. They just want to play. Then there are dogs who have a single track mind for their ball and don’t want to be disturbed while they fetch – and whatever you do, don’t steal their ball. Other older dogs are grouchy and have aches and pains like older people. There are nervous dogs, anxious of the things around them that seem unfamiliar.
Then there are dogs who want to dominate everything and all the dogs. There are dogs who clearly seem to be prancing and careful where they tread, while others who just love to get dirty. The more I look, the more I realise that dogs share so many similarities to humans. They are all so different to each other like we are… and they also seem to share so many of our different personality types (though perhaps none with the personality of premeditated malice you might find in a character in a crime fiction story).
So I have started with this knowledge. It’s still early days, but I’m cracking on with writing and really enjoying it. Let's hope it goes somewhere and the result is as fun as the journey!