In middle school, one of my Literature teachers assigned us the aptly-titled No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman. It’s been many years since I last read this book and yet it has stuck with me. One reason is the overall quality of the book. It has a wide range of dynamic characters, the plot is engaging, and the narrative voices (it switches perspectives most chapters) are absolutely hilarious. The other reason has more to do with a thread in the book which always appears in the title: dogs dying in “classic” literature. As a dog lover, I can emphatically agree with “no more dead dogs.”
I understand why the “dead dogs” trope is used so frequently. It tugs on the readers’ hearts, provides an opportunity for character development, comments on the cruelty of mankind, etc. Nevertheless, I’m more than a bit tired of it. Old Yeller, Sounder, and Where the Red Fern Grows are just some of the many examples out there. More recently, A Dog’s Purpose follows the journey of a dog’s soul through multiple lifetimes, so of course a dog dies! Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Where the Red Fern Grows and I cried during Old Yeller, but that doesn’t mean I want to anticipate it every time a book or movie features a dog.
Today’s writing prompt is about breaking that mold. Simply put, I want you to write a short story, poem, personal essay, whatever about a dog or which prominently features the dog. In this piece the dog cannot die. Obviously all dogs die eventually. For this prompt, you cannot depict or allude to the dog’s death in your work.
It may not seem that difficult but this trope exists for a reason. It’s the easiest way to utilize a dog as a character, and it takes some real thought to give them a different plot line.
If you come up with something that you think has promise, please feel free to share it in the comments. I would love to read some good fiction, poetry, or even non-fiction in which the dog does not die.
Have a happy writing weekend!