Dogs in WWI

A lot of people ask me why I included the small dog Stinker (later changed to Tinker) as a key character in Anaesthesia.

It’s quite in keeping with the time. People in Britain were asked in the name of patriotism to give up their small dogs for the war effort. The dogs were sent to the front line to pass messages between the trenches. They were terrified, of course, and latched onto people for protection. Rescued dogs were often seen around hospitals where they became a friendly, comforting and welcome sight for the casualties. Other animals were adopted by platoons and brigades. Stinker is a bit like ‘Sammy’ the mascot of the 1/4 Northumberland Fusiliers a picture of which appears in Richard van Emden’s book Tommy’s Ark: Soldiers and Their Animals in the Great War.


Writing Tips – Style

There are so many books out there regarding writing styles. I suggest you read as many as you can – you don’t have to agree with everything they say. However, the best rules (or should I say guidelines, as there are always exceptions) for writing that I have ever come across were those suggested to Ernest Hemingway in 1917 when he started as a young reporter on the Kansas Daily Star:

  • Use short sentences
  • Use short first paragraphs
  • Use vigorous  English
  • Be positive not negative – What he meant by this is that you should say what something is rather than what it isn’t.  For example, don’t say, ‘It wasn’t a bad day’ say, ‘It was a good day’. Instead of saying ‘He isn’t a mean man’, say ”He is a generous man’. ‘Not bad looking in the sunlight’ = ‘Looks well in the sunshine’

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway said to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934.