How To Write a Novel — Animal Characters

Day 31 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Kenneth Schipper Vera on Unsplash

I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.

If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.

Day 31 — Animal Characters

I’m into the flow of the writing now, and coming towards the middle of the first act. Charlie has his plan to make a cake, and his opportunity to buy the ingredients comes at the local farmer’s market.

I’m enjoying playing with Miasmus’ two animal sidekicks, Boo and Kay. I’m sure that their characters will develop more over the course of the book and I’ll be refining them in the revision process.

These are the story threads that I want to include in this scene.

  • Charlie wants to go to the farmer’s market (to buy ingredients for his cake)
  • Staghorn is watching the pigs close to the entrance.
  • Miasmus is working on a new secret project at The Smell Tower.
  • Boo and Kay win the best pig in show competition
  • Kay eats something she shouldn’t — maybe one of the other contestants?
  • Charlie’s dad goes off to find a toasted sandwich.
  • Sandy wants to know what Charlie is doing. He doesn’t want her to know and loses her.
  • Quality of the ingredients matters.
  • Charlie sees the cupcake competition.

I had the idea before that maybe Kay ate one of the other contestants in the pig show, but now I’m thinking that may be a little too much. I’ll work on it as I write a first draft of the scene.

Against the clock

I’m writing using a timer to make sure that I don’t sit around staring at the page and have to get the words down. I’m aiming for around 750 words in the scene, and I’ll try to get them done in three fifteen minute bursts.

The first Sunday of every month, in the park behind Charlie’s house, a farmer’s market trailed their cars and vans in. On the first weekend of their summer holidays, Charlie decided that this was a great opportunity to buy the ingredients for his cake and start baking. On the pretence of giving Woofy some much needed extra exercise, he persuaded his dad that they should all make their way over there.

The sun had risen and warmed their faces as they crested the hill and down into the market area. A covered pavilion marked the entrance, and as they entered they were surprised to find Penelope Staghorn, blue security uniformed as always, standing watch.

“No concealed weapons I hope,” she said to Charlie’s dad as he passed.

He frowned at her, but shook his head.


“What do you think she was doing here?” said Sandy as they walked down the first aisles of stalls.

Her question was answered when they found Miasmus standing by a roped off area to one side. A row of pigs sat smartly on a raised platform whilst a woman with a clipboard inspected them through half-moon glasses. Charlie recognised Boo’s purple bow and Kay’s studded collar amongst the pigs.

Charlie tugged on his dad’s sleeve, “Do you recognise that man?” He pointed at Miasmus.

His dad put a hand up to his eyes and squinted against the glare of the sun. “No, should I?”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Charlie.

The woman with the clipboard went to consult with a couple of other official looking judges. A child with an ice-cream, that was almost the size of his head, wandered close to the pig enclosure. The child’s dad was distracted looking at some butcher’s special sausage stall that had been set up next door. The child was small enough that he could walk right under the rope and closer to the pigs. Next moment the child started screaming and his cone was missing its huge scoops of ice-cream. Kay sat looking sweet as anything next to Boo, but her studded collar dripped white splodges onto the wooden stage.

The clipboard woman returned to the stage carrying two large rosettas.

“We have joint winners for this year. Best in show pig goes to both Boo and Kay, owner Miasmus of Scents of Adventure.”

She attached one of the red rosettas to Boo’s ribbon, then approached Kay warily. Kay grunted a warning and Miasmus saved her fingers by taking the rosetta from her and slapping it on Kay’s collar.

“I’m going to find a toasted sandwich,” said Dad, “Charlie watch your little sister.”

Charlie groaned, “But Dad.”

“I’ll be back shortly.”

He disappeared down a side aisle whilst Sandy, Woofy and Charlie continued on.

“Why did you want to come so badly?” said Sandy.

“I just thought Woofy could do with a walk,” said Charlie.

Woofy was pulling towards the sausage stall but Sandy steered him the other way.

“I’m just going down here for a minute,” said Charlie, “You stay with Woofy.”

“Dad said you were supposed to watch me.”

“Are you such a baby that you need minding?”

“Dad said.”

“I’ll just be a minute,” said Charlie.

He turned away before she could protest further and strolled towards the fresh produce section.

Charlie had learnt from his mum that the best ingredients made for the best cooking. He found a stall selling unsalted butter that smelt of deep yellow droplets, and fresh eggs. A little further on he found flour, caster sugar and icing sugar. He bought them all and stuffed them into his rucksack.

He was about to run back to his sister when he stopped next to a board showing local events. Amid notices advertising the local primary school nativity play and Carols by Candlelight in the park the next week, was a notice for a cupcake competition. Charlie studied the details. Cupcake completion to be held at Needem’s bakery the friday before Christmas. No entry free and a very special golden whisk prize to be presented by our generous sponsor. All entrants welcome to apply.

He memorised the details and hurried back. In the distance his sister was chatting to Miasmus and reaching towards Kay. Charlie wanted to shout a warning but he was too far away. He gripped his hand into a fist as her hand reached the pink snout, but Kay sat calmly as she gave her a tickle under the chin.

She turned and skipped over to him.

“What did he want?” said Charlie.

“I asked if I could pet his pigs,” she said.

“One of them’s a bit of a menace.”

“They’re both sweeties. If you talk to them nicely. Aren’t they Woofy?” Woofy didn’t look so sure. “Their owner, is very important. He’s working on some top secret project at his headquarters.”

“He told you that?”

“No, they did.”


I’m enjoying the freedom of writing against the clock. It’s strange, but I am less worried about the exact words and more worried about getting as many of them down in the time available. It means that the first draft of the scene is fairly rough around the edges, but at the moment the priority is to shape the story, not polish each scene.

Total words so far is 4,908.

Tomorrow I’ll write the scene where a stink bomb clears the market.

Please subscribe to get the full series as I write it.

If you want to try the process with me and write your own novel, I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Put in the comments on how you went with this step.

Did you find this useful? If you want to read more posts like it, you can sign up for a Medium Membership for only $5. It helps support me and all the writers on Medium.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *