Write what you know. You've heard it a thousand times but I'd like to remind everyone to write the details you know. Details help the reader connect to the characters while bringing the world of the story to life, and many details are drawn from our own life experience. For example, I may not know what it's like to sail across the Atlantic in 1803, but I do know what it's like to be seasick. I can use my experiences with seasickness to create realistic scenes.
A realistic detail I enjoy adding to my stories is the relationship between a dog and its owner. In Lady's Wager, I created the canine character of Minnie who is the female version of Wiggins, my beloved, my semi-bald Cairn Terrier mix.
Drawing on my experiences with Wiggins, I created a realistic dog character who added additional layers to the story. Another fictional Cairn Terrier who accomplishes this is Toto. Toto is, according to many scholars, an extension of Dorothy's subconscious.So, think about your life and the things you enjoy and use them in your story. You never know where your subconscious Cairn Terrier might take you.
Minnie serves this same purpose in many scenes of Lady's Wager. For example, the only male character Minnie likes is Edward, suggesting to both Charlotte and the reader that Edward is Charlotte's true love. I've spoken to many dog lovers who've had similar canine intuition experiences. It happened to me when I first brought my husband home to meet my parents and their killer Yorkie didn't try and chew his ankles off.
If you want to see how I use dogs in many of my stories, please check out my books. www.Georgie-Lee.com