Monday, June 15, 2009

The Logistics of Shifting - Is Anything too big or too small?

As I write my shapeshifters I begin to wonder just what the limits are for shapeshifters. Are there any limits that would make a reader go "Huh?" when it comes to shifting into an animal far larger or smaller than human.

Could a human shift into a creature as large as a humpback whale or as small as a mouse? What would stretch a readers belief in your world? Is there a point beyond which writers shouldn't go?

I've mentioned that there are writers that have written about their humans shifting into dragons. Now dragons are darn big - but they are "magical" creatures to begin with. To believe in a dragon you have to suspend your disbelief before you begin. So imagining a human becoming a dragon isn't outside this particular shapeshifter trope.

But what if you write more mundane sorts of animals, like I do? Would someone buy it - literally and figuratively? I've considered expanding my shapeshifter world but when I thought about my humans shifting into something the size of a whale, for instance, it seemed too big. How does a normal human male (weighing approximately 200 lbs) morph into a mammal that weighs 25 to 40 tons - that's 50,000 to 80,000 lbs, kids. Would anyone believe that? I know it comes down to writing but it would take a lot to make that believable.

And how about going in the other direction. Could you make a 200lb muscled man shrink down to the size of a domestic cat (10-20 lbs) or even smaller - to a mouse weighing in at a groundbreaking 20 some grams.

JK Rowling made it work in her world with some of her animagus animals and creatures that had been transfigured. But would it work in urban fantasy/paranormal romance? Let's hear it folks. Weigh in on this weighty issue important to all writers of shapeshifters!


Serena Shay said...

LOL...weighty issue, cute!

You know for me you hit the nail on the head when you said "Now dragons are darn big - but they are "magical" creatures to begin with." I can roll with any shapeshifting big to small or small to big if it is suggested that the process is a magical one. Now if it is a biological change...nope, it needs to be in the weight ball park.

However, my ballpark seems to be quite a big one! LOL only the really big and really small make me go HUH?

Great post!

Paris said...

I find the whole shape-shifting process magical in a sense that I believe there are untapped resources in the human brain that we've yet to explore. If a writer can get me to suspend my belief that there are indeed, such a thing as shapeshifters, I have no problem believing that a character could shift into anything from a mouse to a whale! And you have to admit, there are some darn good writers out there;-)

I love a post that gets people thinking! Good job!

Savanna Kougar said...


Savanna Kougar said...

Great topic. I think it all depends on the parameters of the world you've created.
Actually, people who have several different personalities can shift their weight, eye color, disease conditions with every personality.
Actually, mind itself is limitless. It's all a matter of frequency adjustments and, of course, magic.