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  • Writer's pictureR Cipolletta

e29: The Detective (It_6)

Writing & Fiction Research 31.10.20

Talking to Canada

The Flying Moose:

One of my all-time favourite members of the cervid family is the Canadian moose, of which there are four subcategories; the the Alaska/Yukon moose, the Shiras moose, the Western Canada moose, and the Eastern Canada moose. An absolute behemoth in this family of antlered creatures, with cows (females) weighing in at around 545kgs and bulls (males) reaching up to 750kg, it was, in my opinion, a critical necessity for me to include one of these babies in an interesting situation to constitute one of my Detective's uncanny cases. But the question is: will they fit into my narrative? So let's break it down.

Their widespread 'availability' (allegedly covering every province and territory except Prince Edward Island) helps keep the geographical footprint of my story suitably mysterious, and only really applies one restriction to my concept: Canada as opposed to any other country - which is honestly an easy trade off for me since I love Canada and have always wanted to visit and possibly move there.

Canonically, the specific country the story takes place in will remain deliberately unrevealed to the player, however hiding context clues into the narrative and ensuring that my work has a strong continuity is helpful for me as a creator and, of course, adds more breadcrumbs to the information trail I'm leaving for my 'theorist' target audience.

My general glee aside, I obviously needed to investigate the country to see if it would work for my other plot points, and did so by contacting a friend of mine who I know originates from Kingston, Ontario (Canada).

Over the course of this casual conversation, I confirmed two important suspicions I had that were relevant to my story so far: A) that hunting with weapons and hounds is legal in Canada, provided the individual has a license and the dog is only used for tracking/boxing in prey as opposed to mauling or otherwise causing physical injury. And B) that, while they can climb steep surfaces like mountains, rocky cliff sides, and more, moose cannot, in fact, climb trees.

This spawned the interesting concept of what I'm calling The Flying Moose - an image of this giant cervid, hung, strung, and impaled at the very top of a thick tree - a scene brought to the protagonist's attention by their dog on an otherwise uneventful hunting trip (perhaps early on in the story). By ensuring that there are no cliffsides or sheer drops visible near the tree, I would successfully create an intimidating and uncanny scene for my character; especially if I frame the animal above the centre point of the canvas and apply a great deal of perspective distortion, giving an impression that we're looking up. This formidable beast (an animal which, despite her above-average size as a person, towers over her easily) being so impossibly strewn above her head, and hanging down as if about to fall, would make for an incredibly memorable sight - leading viewer to the questions of how did it get up there? Or worse still who put it up there?

Brain Over Brawn:

On and off throughout these entries I've referred to the Detective's companions as a few variations (whether it be two dogs of the same breed, two dogs of alternating breeds, or even three) but I've decided to narrow it down to just one Scottish Deerhound in light of the talk with Canada.

This entry is the second time I've had confirmation that hunting dogs are specifically barred from causing physical injury to the game being pursued, and are instead intended to be assistants to the kill above anything else. Since the only reason I had her owning multiples to begin with was to justify their ability to take down a cervid (which are generally fairly dangerous) without her interference, this change feels very justified and demonstrates my ability to appropriately scope the number of characters in my story. Having a single hound rather than multiple also conforms more to the sensation of solitude and isolation that contributes to the theme of obsession and hysteria ever-present throughout the story. Finally, it works better with her personality, as she strikes me as someone who would find the notion of excessive dogs nonsensical.

Said all this, I am fairly disappointed in the removal of the multiple dogs idea. The lone protagonist with their single dog is a bit of a cliché which is something I had hoped to avoid - and in future iterations of the concept, past university submissions, I may return to the notion of multiple dogs - but I suppose tropes are tropes for a reason, i.e they're effective, and in this case it couldn't be avoided.

On a web-search for whether Scottish Deerhound can be found in Canada, I found that there is an entire forum dedicated to 'Scottish Deerhounds in Western Canada' therefore making my concept comfortably plausible. Although said this, I don't really see her as picking up a dog from a breeder (where they would be significantly above her price range, purebred) and have an idea swirling around in my head for some sort of cheap, foreign import dog, but we'll see.

- R Cipolletta



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