Skip to main content
Publish date:

How to Write About Your Pets

Author Anne Kaier, author of 2015 memoir Home With Henry, offers five tips to writing about your pets.
Author:

You want to write about your pets. You know you do. And your pets are all for it. The cat’s been walking across the keyboard for days now. Even the dog, curled up in bed next to you while you work, looks longingly at you. You know he’s thinking: “Make me a star!”

(Crafting Animal Characters like an Expert)

People everywhere love pet stories—and some editors will pay for them. But you need to develop these stories as craftily as you would any other piece. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing about your pet.

How to Write About Your Pets

1. Gather Your Material

You know your pet’s ways. But your reader doesn’t. So you need to make your pet into a fully developed character. Here are three techniques to accumulate material for a vivid pet portrait.

  • Go through the photos you have and take new ones with your phone or camera. Note your pet’s typical, funny poses and activities. This can prompt your memory and give you great raw material.
  • Do you talk to your pet? Most of us do. Jot down three conversations you have with him or her. Keep notes on your phone or in a little paper notebook you stick in your pocket.
  • Observe your pet in his or her favorite spot for ten minutes every day for three days. Write down everything he or she does in that spot. At the end of that time, you’ll probably have notes on characteristic gestures.
home-with-henry-book-cover

Home with Henry: A Memoir by Anne Kaier

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

2. Do Some Exercises

Get warmed up and give yourself more material. Here are two winning exercises.

  • Touch exercise: Make a detailed list of three moments in which you remember the touch of your pet. Examples: the downy hair on the back of her ear; the throbbing pulse of his purr as you scratch under his neck; the squishy feeling in a paper towel as you clean up her morning’s hairball. Use these descriptions in your story.
  • Gestures exercise: Write down five gestures your pet makes along with the emotion each gesture conveys. Example: Sitting next to you and grunting - contentment.

3. Try Out Prompts

Remember, your first goal is to write a rough draft, not a finished manuscript.

  • Memorable events prompt: Make a quick list of the five most memorable things your pet did with another human during the last month. Then circle the one that intrigues you the most and write about it. Example: After ignoring me all day, Coco came downstairs when my boyfriend came to dinner.
  • Naughtiness prompt: Marley & Me was a best seller about “the world’s worst dog.” Jot down five of the funniest, baddest things your pet has ever done.
How to Write About Your Pets

4. Write 

Get down to business.

  • Look at the material you’ve gathered. Where are the possible stories? When you’ve focused on one, develop the drama. How does the pet interact with the humans in your tale? What does the pet or the human want that they can’t have? How do the creature and the owner change as the story unfolds?
  • Sketch your story arc first. Then note which scenes best illustrate the stages in the drama. Make the most of these scenes, dramatizing them fully. Less important parts of the story can be handled in a speedier summary.

5. Revise 

Here are some key things to look for in your revision.

  • Sensuous details: Have you used all the quirks and gestures you noted about your pet in your beginning exercises?
  • Vivid vocabulary: Fresh words and phrases will make your story memorable. Root out clichés and repeated words. Example: note the difference between “Coco slept all afternoon” and “For twenty minutes, Coco slept with her right paw covering her wet black nose. Every now and then she snorted or whimpered in her sleep.”
  • Proofread: If you do, you’ll be a real pro.
Character Development Creating Memorable Characters

When you take this online writing course, you will learn how to create believable fiction characters and construct scenes with emotional depth and range.

Click to continue.

Agent Alert: Hannah Andrade of Bradford Literary Agency

Agent Alert: Hannah Andrade of Bradford Literary Agency

Literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Hannah Andrade of Bradford Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

3 Tips for Writing a Holiday Romance Novel

3 Tips for Writing a Holiday Romance Novel

Jenny Bayliss' new novel, A Season for Second Chances, takes place in a small seaside village with Christmas fast approaching. Here, she offers 3 tips for writing a holiday romance novel.

Sallie Tisdale: On the Power of Pop Culture

Sallie Tisdale: On the Power of Pop Culture

Author Sallie Tisdale discusses her deep dive into reality television to observe the power of pop culture for her new book, The Lie About the Truck.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 588

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a last poem.

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

Where fiction writing is about concealing emotional truth for interpretation, memoir is about exposing it for what it is. Writer Jenna Blum discusses the differences she experienced in writing a memoir vs. a novel.

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When choosing your publishing journey, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks in order to make the right decision for you and your work. Author Rick Lauber lays out 17 pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

Spooky Season

Scary Season

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write something that has to do with the scary season!

Parker, 10:26

Christopher Parker: On Learning to Let Go in the Publishing Process

Author Christopher Parker discusses how he celebrated small victories in writing his debut novel, The Lighthouse.

NovemberDecember2021CoverReveal

Writer's Digest November/December 2021 Cover Reveal

Revealing the November/December 2021 issue of Writer's Digest: Magical Writing. Featuring advice from R.F. Kuang, Alix E. Harrow, Maggie Stiefvater, Tobias Buckell, Ran Walker, and many more.