A Tale of Two Kitties: How Cats Helped Me Write Better Fiction and Copy

How was your weekend? I got back from an out-of-state trip to see my aunt up in Wisconsin. We’d gone there to visit and help her out–she’s recovering from major surgery, and was staying with her daughter and son-in-law while she was healing.

It was a fun time hanging out with them–first time seeing my cousin’s house since they moved to the state capital.

There were a lot of hilarious decorations all over the house that had British slang all over the place (which was interesting, because for an American, I seem to use a lot of it–British slang, not decorations).

Anyway, my cousin and her husband have two cats. A big girl named Madeline, and a smaller girl named Mika (no idea of the spelling–my cousin pronounced it “mee-kah.”)

These cats were from totally different planets. Madeline would meow and purr and rub up against everything. And you could pet her and you’d think she thought you were the coolest thing in the world.

Mika was a whole different story. I touched her tail one time, and she prepped to head-butt me–maybe it could have been a prelude to nipping my hand, I dunno. She didn’t like it at all. She would look at me like I was part of the upholstery, and look out the window, and generally ignore anything I had to say.

And then I figured out why.

My cousin’s husband told me that Mika used to be a sweetie, but then friends of theirs brought their cats over, and they really gave Mika a hassle–so she beat the crap out of them all (I may have it wrong but that’s the impression I got). “She used to be a sweetie. But now she’s a bruiser–the mean streets,” he said.

My point? Well, people go through things, like characters in a story. Or like prospects your emails may go out to, they have a set of circumstances or events in their lives that they’ve lived that you may not know about (except for maybe a certain problem they need to have solved that caused them to sign up to an email list).

People come at things from different angles based on how they’ve lived, what they’ve done, or what-have-ya.

As a fiction writer, you’ll be making up this type of thing, and not all of it will be in the final story. You’ll use these things to guide your character’s reactions to things in the story, maybe in the beginning if it’s a longer story, and you’d like to move toward bettering/changing your character (which is always good–as long as it works for that character in this story).

If you’re writing emails or a sales letter, your client may know some of these things about his or her clients–things like their age, gender, what they’re having problems with, or what-have-ya. Use these and more to sketch out the “character” of your prospect. If your client didn’t give you a lot, you have to research. Hint: People complain about things online. A LOT. Especially if they’ve tried more than one thing that hasn’t worked for a particular issue.

You may not be stuck for a hook for a sales letter, or character ideas for a short story. If you are, just remember Madeline and Mika–still cats, but reacting to different things for totally different reasons.

Until next time,

Ty

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About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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