Friday, October 21, 2005


A 16 lb. Traditional Siamese blocks my monitor as I write. Good thing that I touch type and don't have to see the screen. Okay. Ash the Man (really, the cat) has moved to the desk and onto my papers where he's settling in for a nap.

Back to the subject at hand.

I realized this morning that it is harder to get inspiration from a dog than a cat in creating a mystery story. My series sleuth Bridget O'Hern has Narvik, a Nowegian Elkhound, who serves as her companion. Narvik does not play the creative muse. She actually functions more as a rescuer, pulling Bridget out of trouble. In that role, Narvik helps to move the plot along and add story texture.

So as a muse, a dog is not--though I dearly loved the real Narvik, our family dog, who lived to be 16 years old.

On the other hand, my three cats have prompted more than one mystery story. They not only inspired some story ideas, they also figured in them. Not the real kitties, but their fictional counterparts. Sadly, cats seem to play villainous roles very well.

What is it about the cat's character that makes them more servicable in the "bad guy" role? Perhaps, it is their independence that has them tolerating human kind. Even the most loving of cats seem to observe their humans with a certain detachment. Dogs, on the other hand, are compliant, eager to please--wired to be helpers.

Cats are very good at being under foot, too. That thought alone triggers a possible method and a potential opportunity for a mystery story. Now if a motive such as jealousy is added, then we have the three legs to the stool on which our mystery sits.

Which brings me to my flash fiction mystery stories. Cats, with their speed, seem to work quite well in mini-mysteries. I just sold "Secondhand Shoe" to KR Mullin's Flash Fiction zine, in which Cassie the cat played a very prominent role.

Let's see, shoes, steps, falls . . . you get the idea.

Happy Writing and Good Reading!


1 comment:

Don The Idea Guy said...

Great question! Dog vs. Cat?
Whle I agree with your conclusion that cats can certainly spark more direct ideas, nothing is better than the dog for support when your ideas have run dry, or you're feeling down in the dumps.

A quick game of fetch or a brisk walk can result in more ideas than the cat can trigger by its lonesome.

It's ironic -- the dog is actually a CATalyst for creating many ideas.


A bad pun, certainly.
But my dog still loves me. ;)