If I thought I could pull it off, I would write animal stories. I’ve tried to do it and they just don’t come off very well. The two furry heathen maniacs currently residing in my home help get me out of my own head sometimes. I could sit and watch them for hours some days.
And here’s where the topic comes in. Charlie, the energetic 8mo kitteh raised with 9 others, is teaching Murphy, the calm pacifist, a thing or two about standing up for himself. Charlie is a rough and tumble kind of guy. He is roughly the same size now as Murphy and is slowly passing him on the scale. His greatest weapon? The back feet. Poor Murphy lost a huge chunk of fur above his eye because of those back feet.
We were worried that Murphy would always run from the play “fighting” and let Charlie rule the roost. What I’ve noticed lately is Murphy instigating, and winning, these conflicts. Murphy is older by 9 months and had us and the house to himself for about 8 months before Charlie came into the family.
So, you ask, how does kitteh conflict have anything to do with writing? Well, it’s all in watching who starts the conflict, how each “opponent” handles the thrust and parry and who ultimately backs down.It’s funny to watch the silent communication that goes on between these two. Fluffed up tails, the position of the ears and who’s standing up straight and who’s hunched in a ball waiting for the attack. Charlie’s a bruiser and uses his feet all the time. Murphy, on the other hand, only uses his back feet to make a point. When he uses them, he’s serious about Charlie leaving him alone. It took a long time for Murphy to even use his back feet in a fight. Now that he does, you can tell Charlie doesn’t like it, or the fact that at that point, he’s lost the conflict.
In my current WIP, I’ve got two men vying for the same woman. These two have a few face to face meetings and watching my two fur boys has actually helped me think about how I can have these two men convey their dislike for the other without ever saying a word. The stance during a conversation, eyes hooded, gaze confrontational, arms crossed. While the other tries not to be so blatant with his dislike. He respects the woman’s history with this man and doesn’t want to do anything that might push her to him. He keeps his countenance unmarred by dislike or contempt, trying not to let his true feelings show. He takes it out on his grid iron opponents every week.
As I write this, they’re at it again. Charlie the original instigator, but somehow Murphy comes out on top and Charlie is left chasing him trying to catch up. It sounds like the Kentucky Derby around here. Amazing how 8-lb cats can sound like 1000-lb race horses. When that happens, you find a spot on the couch and stay out of the way!
What things have you observed in either animals or people that made you think about writing a scene differently?