Skip to main content

How to Write About Your Pets

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

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.

Tailer vs. Tailor vs. Taylor (Grammar Rules)

Tailer vs. Tailor vs. Taylor (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between tailer, tailor, and Taylor with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Advice on Writing Characters From a Psychologist

Advice on Writing Characters From a Psychologist

Go deeper into the minds of your characters where motivation lives with this advice on writing characters from psychologist and author Rebecca Alexander.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Truth Denial

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Truth Denial

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character (or characters) deny the objective truth.

4 Questions To Ask When Writing Romantic Scenes

4 Questions To Ask When Writing Romantic Scenes

Whether you’re writing a romance novel or simply a romantic moment in your story, M.M. Crane poses 4 questions to ask yourself when writing romantic scenes.

Ben Acker: On Writing Scary Stories for Middle-Grade Readers

Ben Acker: On Writing Scary Stories for Middle-Grade Readers

Ben Acker discusses the joy of reading scary stories growing up that led him to write his new middle-grade horror collection, Stories to Keep You Alive Despite Vampires.

How Freelance Writers Are Using TikTok to Find Success

How Freelance Writers Are Using TikTok to Find Success

TikTok is one of the hotter social media platforms, but it's more than just BookTok. Author C. Hope Clark shares how freelance writers are using TikTok to find success.

Shanterra McBride and Rosalind Wiseman: On Trusting Each Other in the Co-Writing Process

Shanterra McBride and Rosalind Wiseman: On Trusting Each Other in the Co-Writing Process

Authors Shanterra McBride and Rosalind Wiseman discuss the experience of going from friends to writing partner with their new nonfiction book, Courageous Discomfort.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 628

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 reflection poem.

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: The Weight of Blood

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: The Weight of Blood

The editors of Writer’s Digest are proud to announce the next book club selection, The Weight of Blood, by New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson.