cheap shot

She had to ask! From Deborah Bouziden: In one of your books, you killed a dog. You’ve said you would never do it again. Why not?
SW: Yeah, I still feel bad about poor old Gladstone. The reason I wouldn’t do it again is that it’s manipulative. A cheap shot. It’s an amateurish way to wring emotion from the reader and I did it because, well, I was an amateur, a self-taught writer in my twenties. The heroine’s world was being destroyed all around her, and the dog was the metaphor for that, and I wanted the reader to feel sad for her, so I showed the dog being killed. By one of the bad guys, as it happens.
I’m not an amateur anymore. I know better. If I were to do that now, I’d be cheating; it would be lazy writing. A mature writer knows how to plumb the character for genuine emotion.