Thursday, May 19, 2011
Snoopy & SEAL Team 6
Snoopy & SEAL Team 6
Hey Seekerville! I’m really excited about today’s post because I get to talk about two of my favorite things to write about: Animals and Special Forces/Special Operations service members.
I also get to introduce you to Snoopy, the stuffed animal I found at a local Goodwill shop for a tremendous bargain. Snoopy is my favorite cartoon character. He’s a writer! My office is Snoopy-themed. See this big guy?
He keeps me company when I write. He stares at me when I stare at the blank screen and cursor.
My office boasts a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree with one red bulb and sparse limbs. I also have a Peanuts music box/snow globe that spins snow inside it when Peanuts-themed music plays. I am a Snoopy fanatic!
I also love giving things away. So today, the commenter who correctly guesses the dollar amount ($1.00 to $100.00) that I paid for this huge stuffed Snoopy will receive a copy of Steadfast Soldier, my last Love Inspired which features an occupational therapist heroine who uses rescued animals to rehabilitate humans.
Many of you have heard of SEAL Team 6 in the event of recent news of the elite military unit who brought justice to America. So to honor them, I’m going to fashion a fictional SEAL team after them for today’s demonstration portion of my post in which I’m going to show you how animal characters can enrich our stories and endear our human characters to readers.
Animals and pets are something that is universal. Most people have some kind of memory attached to a childhood pet or animal, even if they didn’t have pets of their own. There is something fascinating and endearing about animals themselves and it’s rare to find a person who doesn’t love some kind of animal.
What’s your favorite animal?
What was the last book you read that had an animal in it?
What did the animal add to the story? Life? Depth? Comic relief? Emotion? Danger?
Marketing studies of category romance prove that covers depicting animals or children sell out faster than covers that don’t contain one or the other. This proves that people love to read about them.
Let’s do an experiment.
Today, we have visiting with us our fictional SEAL Team 6. Say our heroine (and our reader) is anti-military/anti-war. So, right off the bat, our military hero has strikes against him. After all, he packs a gun and kills people with it. The heroine (and our reader) considers it murder. Also, for extra conflict, let’s pretend our heroine isn’t fond of dogs because she was bitten as a youngster.
BUT…say the heroine gets a call that a terrorist attempted to hold her children’s daycare class hostage. (Hey, it could happen! LOL). BUT, a bomb-sniffing dog picked up on the terrorist who then was apprehended at the airport before he could execute his plan on the daycare. This dog would be instantly endearing to the reader and to the heroine.
She also discovers the dog was at the airport traveling with his trainer, who she finds out later is a Navy SEAL who rescued the dog from terrorists trying to use him in inhumane gas experiments. This would evoke sympathy in the heroine for the dog, and evoke likability in the heroine, and in the reader toward the hero.
The fact that he risked his life to rescue a pack of endangered puppies…and did it as the puppies were walking across an area riddled with land mines or roadside bombs, raises the likability factor of the hero and shows his compassionate side. See how animals can be a tool to help build characterization?
Next scenario: Pretend the military dog (who we will name Snoopy, after my beloved friend) wasn’t on the plane and the terrorist got through. He’s at the daycare threatening to blow it up if our president doesn’t release another terrorist-in-custody.
Say the SEAL also has a child in the daycare. The child has seizures and his service dog (Snoopy) attends the day care with him. The dog was rescued from a kill shelter and trained by the SEAL Team 6 member to alert him and caregivers to his son’s impending seizures so they can prevent them. Or keep the little boy safe during. The dog is a retired military or police dog that sniffs out the bomb and saves the children.
Think of this scenario without the dog. The dog being in there adds compassion, depth, emotion and life to the story, at least in my opinion. And it softens the military angle for readers who may be anti-war. Most people aren’t anti-animal. Animals have universal appeal, as do heroes. It helps to make your animal heroic, like our story Snoopy.
Another scenario, pretend Snoopy isn’t in the center when the bomb is discovered but when SWAT teams and military bomb specialists and our fictional SEAL Team 6 arrive on the scene (without fighting over jurisdiction…LOL!), they flush out the terrorist with flash bang grenades or tear gas. Snoopy rushes in and helps lead rescuers to children.
Snoopy even drags an unconscious teacher out by her jacket. Our SEAL Team 6 hero trained the dog to rescue civilians in a military setting. See how the animal softens the rough edges of the nature of this hero’s career and military countenance? The animal also adds depth and interest and brings “Awww!” moments to our story…and readers want stories that make them feel something.
Trivia question for the day: Do you know that sometimes SEALS, Green Berets, Rangers, Recon Marines and other Special Operations/Special Forces personnel have to call 9-1-1? When they need back up or rescue, guess who they call?
Nooooo….not Snoopy. LOL! Just kidding.
They call the PJs!
US Air Force Pararescue Jumpers are a rare breed of elite Special Operations Airmen who are skydiving combat paramedics. They rescue downed pilots as well as Special Forces members in danger behind enemy lines. They also do civilian rescues of humans and animals in the U.S. and abroad during global natural disasters.
I feature rescuers and particularly PJs in almost all of my books, in addition to other special operations personnel.
Don’t forget to guess Snoopy’s price (Hint: I got a KILLER deal!) for a chance to win Steadfast Soldier, the story about Pararescueman Chance, and Midnight, the black Lab who rescues Chance’s dad in more ways than one.
Thank you for joining me today. I’d also love to know your thoughts on how animal characters can enrich stories. I’d love real life examples too!
Cheryl Wyatt & Snoopy2