When I was a kid, my all time favorite book was White Fang. I remember finishing the “abridged for young readers” version, finding that particular amendment in the jacket cover, and asking my dad where the grown up version was. See, until then, I had it in my head that only kids’ books had animals in them. Children’s books were about animals, and grown ups’ books were about people. Jack London became my personal hero.
I have always connected with animals, and I have always wanted to read stories where they are the heroes. You tell me the hero in this movie has an animal companion and I’m there. Damn ending better be happy though.
As I reached adulthood, and even still today, I wonder if my childhood assumption had some fact to it. Children’s movies are still commonly based on animals. The human heroes always have an animal companion, even if he never serves a function besides comic relief. The stories are strong without the furry sidekick, but the sidekick always makes it into the script. It just isn’t the same with stories meant for adult audiences.
In ‘grown up’ movies, animals are not only less common, but they’re taken far less seriously. They aren’t characters so much as slapstick fodder or a reason for the humans to share their own conflict that eventually ignores the animal that caused it. Does Hollywood think only children want to see the dog save the day? The cat solve the murder? The orca bring the father and his estranged daughter back together?
How does this affect us as writers? Even applied to a concept besides animals as main characters, how do these odd boundaries influence the ideas we’re brave enough to take to press? If the market for your passion is not your intended audience, can you still market your product?
The Reading List for Week Three will launch this morning,
and you are called upon to reflect upon a great change in Week Four.