Finding Dora Crossbred Dairy Goat

I like the challenge of National Novel Writing Month every November. However, it means I need to have an idea for a novel every year. One year it left me finding Dora.

One question seems to pop up a lot for authors. Where do your ideas come from? In self defense we come up with some way to answer.

The truth is that they just are there. The nudge can be a book, a news item, a picture, some person we know who has something happen or something that happens or has happened in our own lives. The question is “What if?” to find a new way to look at this nudge.

preliminary sketch for Dora's Story
The drawings for Dora’s Story were done by Martha Cunningham. This is one of her preliminary sketches.

Finding Dora was like that. I was driving out to see a friend thinking about nothing in particular. I had just reread “Black Beauty” and wondered if something similar would work about a goat.

I’ve known lots of goat owners and heard or read about many more. There are owners of other kinds of livestock whose behavior and attitudes are applicable to goats as well.

I found myself thinking about possible owners and incidents. The list was a long one. which ones would I use?

Emily from the goat novel Dora's Story
In Part 2 of Dora’s Story Emily gets and names Dora to participate in a 4-H livestock project. She and Dora become fast friends. When her mother sells Dora, Emily is devastated and tries to find her.

It’s rare I sit down and outline an idea for a novel. Usually I have a bullet list of possible incidents. Finding Dora took an outline.

I decided on a cross bred dairy goat with a young girl as her first real owner. The girl was Emily. She names her goat Dora.

The big problem was the time line. The story took place over a number of years. Each of Dora’s owners had to fit into and fill this time frame. The goat shows had to fit in too along with all the classes, people and goats involved.

I still have those pages of notes. And it is several pages. Finding Dora was challenging and taught me a lot about writing.

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