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I know there are some great books told by animals: i.e Black Beauty or White Fang.

I want to write a good story told by a traffic lights.

But I need a good example.

Are there another books told by animals? Or maybe even from some lifeless object point of view (that would be most interesting)? What makes these books successful? What common traits could I use to create my own successful story?

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put on hold as off-topic by Monica Cellio yesterday

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The community has decided that questions about existing literary works, except in a writing-specific context, are off-topic. For more information, see this meta answer." – Monica Cellio
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Off topic. We're not a book recommendation service. We're a community of writers. –  StrixVaria Nov 24 '10 at 14:15
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This would be on-topic if you made it about writing - a question such as "Why is White Fang so successful with an animal narrator and how can I duplicate such success? Are their similar examples?" is a good question. –  justkt Nov 24 '10 at 14:18
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Is the problem of rephrasing so crucial? –  Daniel Excinsky Nov 24 '10 at 14:22
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yes. See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective. Good questions are the KEY to a good Q&A site. How else do you get good answers? –  justkt Nov 24 '10 at 14:35

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The tricky act to walk with telling stories from a non-humanoid perspective is that of combining the traits your readers expect from that animal or object with the traits readers expect from a narrator. With animals this means getting inside the {dolphin|wolf|horse|whale}'s head. It means knowing that a horse lives life poised between flight and fight. It means knowing that dogs and wolves sleep much less deeply than humans. It means using all the animal science available. It also works best with more intelligent animals. Examples would include:

With inanimate objects you have a bit more freedom, because you are creating a personality and intelligence level for something people have fewer preconceptions of in terms of personality. At the same time, there is a reason many books with inanimate narrators are written for children - it's hard to make this completely believable. Sometimes a third person omniscient narrator might step into an object (for example, something watching a changing world throughout centuries), but other than that you don't get a whole lot of examples for adults. When they are used in literary fiction for adults the purpose is often mostly to make a point about the human characters or the readers.

  • I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket - a children's book in which the basket serves to show family life around it
  • The Autobiography of a Lump of Coal - in which the lump of coal is used to show the capacity for human empathy and a panthestic view of the divinity of all nature
  • The Story of my life / by a Submarine Telegraph - a thinly veiled homage to the author, the inventor of the submarine telegraph, which teaches about how it works
  • Scepticism, Inc - contains some narration by a shopping cart who is looking for God designed to make people think about their religion
  • The Collector Collector - a 6,500 year old Mesopotamian bowl serves as the narrator, which allows all sorts of intimate details about the characters to unfold, since nobody minds what they do in front of a bowl
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A link ("A list of more") returns a 404: File Not Found; was this the desired page? Ursula K. LeGuin's "Direction of the Road" uses a tree's viewpoint. –  Paul A. Clayton Jun 1 '13 at 17:39
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Per the Internet Archive, it seems not - there is some crossover but the older link contains more. Updated the answer to contain both. –  Zayne S Halsall yesterday

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