25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
Hm… Oswy (from The Witch’s Boy) has a dog, as a result of a symbolic gesture on the part of Leofwine, which told us a lot about Leofwine and something about Oswy, but nothing about the dog. The dog then plays no further part in the story. It’s hard to think of stuff for animals to do, unless you go to the trouble of making the animal a character in its own right. (Introducing characters/items which you have to keep track of, but which are not contributing to the plot is redundant and to be discouraged.)
Making a pet into a character in its own right is not something I’d ever thought of before. But if I have another character like John Cavendish, who wouldn’t dream of talking to another person about his problems, and a publishing climate where lengthy introspection is discouraged, a pet might serve in the way John’s diary did – a device for letting the reader in on the character’s thoughts. IE, even an introvert who won’t talk to people might talk to his dog.
I was thinking “huh, 18th Century sailing officers wouldn’t have time or space for pets,” but then I remembered Admiral Collingwood and his beloved dog, Bounce, and decided that I was wrong about that.