Furry Writers' Guild Forum

"Thoughts on Furry Fiction" (link)

An FA journal by Roz Gibson, mostly focusing on pet peeves/unusual aspects of furry fiction:

Haven’t had time to read through all the comments yet, but looks like some interesting discussion, possibly.

The main issue I have with this, purely from a writing point of view, is this: “Constantly referring to the characters by species rather than name” as a critical point. If you use proper names all the time, prose gets incredibly repetitive. I’ve discovered this in my own editing and, especially if I have several male or female characters talking in the same scene, referring to them always by name or pronoun isn’t realistic. Designating species isn’t, in my opinion, a trope of poor fiction.

Archantael’s right. If you have a character who’s a Marine, and you want to avoid to keep repeating his name, you can refer to him as ‘the soldier’. Same for doctors, children, anything that can be pointed out in a way that makes it clear who you’re talking about. Even ‘the man’ or ‘the woman’ are often used. If species is a distinctive trait of a character, I don’t see why not.

I’m not entirely sure exactly why, but one of the absolute quickest ways to turn me off as a reader is to us a phrase along the lines of “said the cat”. It sounds too artificial perhaps, or reminds me too heavily of the way I’m suspending my disbelief. Anyhow, one of my earliest decisions as a writer was to never, ever phrase things like that. Characters are themselves, not their species. I might make an exception for a perfect stranger, until we know more about him/her.

Also, furs can indeed blush. You just have to watch carefully-- it shows in the ear and nose linings. I so specify in my works.


I did a rather haphazard survey of some professionally-published books before I left for work this morning and noticed that once a character’s name was given in the text, the character was referred by that name or the appropriate pronoun, not a description. I didn’t do a thorough survey, granted, but I don’t think I found a single exception. Before bowtie-wearing secret agent Thor Denmark is introduced by name to the POV character, he may be referred to as “the agent” or “the man” or “the guy with the bowtie” but once his name’s given, his dialogue tags consistently become “Thor said” or “he said.”

I don’t agree with all of Roz’s pet peeves, but I think it’s an interesting list.

I have to say: some dog breeds are bearded. Also: goats.

In my Dungeon Grind story, my ursines are bearded.
All it meant was longer chin/neck/cheek fur. Males had a lot, women had a little.
It added character, and showed that they weren’t just anthro-bears, but rather something else.

I can understand it being frustrating if it’s overused, definitely. I try to keep it an even mix as much as possible, so the names don’t become overwrought, and I try to structure my sentences so it’s clear who’s speaking anyway, so even if there are two or three 'he’s in any given dialogue scene, rearranging some words or phrases can avoid it. I don’t like having confusing or repetitive modifiers if I can help it and I tend to panic if I have a lot of ‘he verbed’ in one place, so I’ll fall back on species descriptors a bit. But, being as I want to have an audience, if it is something that annoys people, I’ll check myself in my latest edits to make sure it’s not too much.