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Over on Diana Peterfreund’s always-entertaining blog, she has a two-day discussion of the infamous writing rule: whatever you do, don’t kill the dog. Check out her Sept 18 and 20 entries: click here

Meanwhile, I have my own “don’t kill the dog”story.

My first published novel was a time travel. I wrote it in the days before I started working from a real outline, so I didn’t know what was going to happen other than the basic plot.

The heroine was a contemporary woman who went back in time and met a 17th-Century woodsman. He was very rugged, and predictably, had a very cool dog. I grew so fond of Prince, it was an unexpected bonus.

Part way through the novel, to my dismay, the heroine was being held captive by a bad guy. The bad guy was just about to shoot another captive, who was the hero’s little sister. Prince bounded into the room and took the bullet for the sister.

No one was more shocked than I. Fortunately, it was a TIME TRAVEL so later in the book, the heroine was able to go back in time again and ensure that she and the sister were never abducted in the first place. So – the dog lived!

At my first book-signing, a woman presented me with her well-read copy of TIMELESS and told me how much she loved it. But as I was signing, she added firmly, “I loved it, but I’ll never forgive you for killing that poor dog.”

Naturally, I said, “But she went back and saved him. So the dog lived.”

“Yes, but you still shouldn’t have killed him.”

Oh well. Later that day, I was telling one of my friends about this conversation. My friend is an animal rescue person who passionately loves critters. She laughed at the story and agreed that it was silly – because after all, the dog lived! She had read the book and didn’t have a problem with it.

Then I made the mistake of saying: “But even if the heroine hadn’t been able to change history, it was still better that the dog died rather than the little sister. Right?”

My friend looked me right in the eye and said, “No.”

“Are you saying that if it were a choice between the sister dying and the dog dying….?”

“Exactly. If that’s the only choice? Kill the sister.”

So all you aspiring authors out there, do not kill that dog. Seriously!



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
That's hilarious! But oddly true. Why else do I get so het up when I see a dog dying in fiction?
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Hi Diana!

Yes, I've come to the realization that it's true, which leads me to an uncomfortable dilemma. I wrote TIMELESS fifteen years ago, and I've learned a lot since then. Now that I have the rights back, I'd like to revise it a bit and then market it again. The question is: do I kill the dog, even temporarily? I think so, but I have to wonder if some of my readers actually stopped reading at that scene and threw the book away, never learning that Prince survived after all. Hopefully not too many, since I received lots of great mail and email from readers on that story (in fact, I still do.)

But I still wonder...

Sep. 24th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
lol to keep the dog...
I would normally agree that under no circumstances should a dog have to die...with that said though even as an adult I read "Where the Red Fern Grows," over and over knowing full well what will happen...and then there is "Eight Below," yes I know this is a movie but same concept...and the dogs dying was so horrible and yet made the story.

I guess if you HAVE to kill the dog the first time around so be it...if you wanna please some ppl then perhaps wound the dog and ensure he lives as in "Turner and Hooch."

My two cents...lol
Sep. 24th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
Re: lol to keep the dog...
Hey Charity!

It would actually be harder for me to wound a fictional dog than to kill one. Isn't that ridiculous? I'm the same with my human characters. They barely get paper cuts. Even my supposedly-tough protagonists! I guess that's my own crybaby attitude toward pain coming through.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sep. 25th, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC)
Fuck. I kill the dog in PROJECT GEORGE. And I can't unkill him. It's part of the whole "she's so deadly" thing. Hmmmm...maybe I can change the dog into a...hyena. Nah, that won't work either.

Karm the Dog Killer
Sep. 26th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Time for an intervention!

Can't the dog secretly live? Nursed to life by the heroine?

Don't do it, Karm!
Sep. 28th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
OK. That? Is funny. People are weird about dogs. Now if it were a cat I would understand.
Sep. 28th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)

Just last week I saw a movie called FEAR with Mark Whalberg and Reese W. It was a standard thriller -- not bad. Then the bad guys brutally killed the family dog, and I have to admit, at that moment, I decided the movie sucked.

Nice to see ya!
Sep. 28th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
Sorry I've been away. Every year when Big Brother returns I go over to the snark side for three months top play. It sucks up most of my online time. I stopped watching The Shield after a cat killing scene.
Sep. 28th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
I hated that scene too! And the worst part was, they never went anywhere with it. I thought Dutch would become progressively more perverted, and instead, they mainstreamed him again.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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