April 2, 2014

Tonight a fox came to the door. Trotting quickly, quietly, and moving like a stealth robot, the fox  appeared at the sliding door to our deck, raised a paw and tapped the glass. Then he scampered off.



Animals come into our lives like omens.  As pets they choose our homes, arriving to teach us something about love, compassion, and play. The wild ones startle us with their presence. They may guide us. Some give us answers. Others show up to remind us of something or someone. Animals act as symbols in our lives.

An animal totem in our writing acts no differently, and they can play an important role in our work. As a writer, it can be difficult to choose an animal to wander through your words. Asking these questions might help.

Is the animal the right symbol for the story? If it’s a pet, does it define or change a character in some way? How can an animal move the story forward?  A person’s reaction to an animal is a terrific way to show, instead of tell something about the character. For example, how would the main character react to a fox pawing at the door? Scream? Want to pet it? Shoot it? Each angle makes for a very different character.

Use an animal in your story to give it more depth.

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