So, one little aside I’d like to add before we get into the question du jour, questions can have expanded details. If you click on the little links I provide, it helps to get more clarification – it also lets you enjoy other people’s answers! Today’s question is a case-in-point because the asker actual adds some details that I’m responding to in the answer.
Here we go!
If you get the chance: research.
Writing fiction isn’t just imagination (though that helps in a situations like this) but the product on knowledge which comes with research. Even fantasy writers the create a world from scratch have to have an understanding about how a world would work and if their created world would even work.
If you don’t have the chance to research, then definitely go to imagination.
In your example, loss is loss. Try to relate the loss of a pet to the loss of something else, a person that is important to you. You may want to start by imagining what it’s like to first own a pet, imagine getting one, growing attached, watching it grow and you bonding with it. Then imagine getting so familiar with that pet that it feels like it has been a part of your life forever. Once you have those feelings established, try and imagine if that pet that has become so much a part of you is taken away for whatever reason (loss, death, you moving away, etc.). Those imagined feelings will give you something to write on.
You not being able to relate because you haven’t experienced something shouldn’t stop you. Keep in mind not everyone experiences everything the same anyways. Your experiences with something may not be the same as someone else’s experience.
So, my lovelies, how much research do you do on your novels?
For me, I do some very basic research first while I’m plotting my novel. Then after rewriting I check on things that I didn’t feel very confident about, or things that seem a bit off when I am writing it. Then when I’m editing I can go back and fix things.