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Animals play a large role in all my romances. In a recent poll, 85% of my audience said they enjoy fiction that includes horses, which are my main non-human characters, but you’ll see below that romance readers are open to many other critters, including dogs and cats.
Here are ways for using them to enrich your romantic fiction. (And you can give them a try in other genres too!)
Choose Your Creature Wisely
Pick an animal you like; otherwise you won’t enjoy writing about it and it’ll show in your prose.
In a guest post on InspyRomance.com, I asked readers which animal would they most like to see in their romantic novels.
The majority loved the idea of mixing horses with romance and commented on how they “can bring people together beautifully.” Many others wanted to see dogs, including K-9s, or cats. In fact, so many responders wanted cats that I’ve included two in my upcoming novel.
Other critters that were listed: rabbits, ferrets, goats, pigs, pigeons, turtles, roosters, parrots, and fish. One lady said she’d love to see exotic animals, but no spiders or snakes. Fair enough!
Thus, the world is your oyster, so to speak, in choosing which animal to write about, as long as the critter appeals to you.
Add Realism to Your Story
Including animals in your plot will make your novel more realistic, but only if your details are correct.
There are always readers who know your creature inside out and will get upset if your facts are wrong. Conversely, an enthusiast of your chosen animal will appreciate it when you go the extra mile to get the specifics right.
I write about horses, dogs, and cats because I’ve been around them forever and can write realistically about them. My audience appreciates it and comes back for more.
Your readers will also love the animal characters in your romantic fiction if you portray them accurately.
Enhance Your Main Plot
Animals are a great way to bring your main characters together or tear them apart, depending on your story requirements.
In one of my novels, the hero and heroine are fighting over the same horse. In another, the hero hates the mare that the heroine adores. The hero in different book is a horse trainer who’d rather stick to equines than open himself up to his feelings for the heroine. The adoption of two dogs brings my hero and heroine together in yet another novel.
There are endless ways you can use animals to increase the interest of your romantic plot.
Boost the Action
Here I must make a confession. Whenever I find my plot slowing down, I inject an extra horse, dog, or cat incident to liven things up.
This can be an animal disaster—horse colic or a missing dog—or something amusing, such as the dog chasing the barn cat through the kitchen and interrupting the mean ex-girlfriend’s attempt to kiss my hero and take him away from the heroine. The drama adds interest (for me, too!) and gets my novel up and running again.
Spice up your story with animal action and keep the energy flowing.
Reveal the Truth about Your Characters
Putting animals in your characters’ paths is a great way to show the true colors of those individuals.
You may have a hero who starts out as a curmudgeon. He reacts poorly to the heroine’s favorite animal, then gradually softens towards said animal as his feelings develop for the heroine, winning her and the reader over to his side.
Or your anti-hero does something unkind to an animal, thus showing how undeserving he is of our sympathy.
The way animals are treated by our characters can be a great indicator of their personalities.
Create Teaching Moments
By showing insider information about your particular animal, you educate at the same time. Your audience will enjoy absorbing those details while reading your romance story.
My readers frequently comment on how much they love discovering facts about horses, dogs, and cats through my novels. In my latest book, I highlight how black dogs and cats are the last to be adopted from shelters. Because of their color, they’re always overlooked. This earned me five stars from one Amazon reviewer, who gave me kudos for bringing their plight to public notice.
Your romantic novel can be the perfect opportunity to teach readers about your favorite critter and gain fans.
Animals bring a wonderful richness to our stories. Which ones would you consider including in your next romantic novel?