Monday, January 18, 2010

How much shapeshifting is too much…or not enough?

My paranormals have featured shapeshifting wolves but my characters don’t run around as their alter egos very often. So sometimes I wonder if they spend enough time in their wolfy forms. How do you know how much is not enough or too much? I think this varies from book to book and author to author.

I try to have my characters change at least once, but is once enough? My characters are humans first and animals second. Their animal nature permeates their human selves but it isn’t all that they are about. They change if they feel inclined or being an animal is more convenient than being human. They also choose their animal form if it’s more suited to a particular situation.

It’s not that you never see any animal aspects of my shifter characters. I created my shifters so that when they mate during a female’s heat cycle, their fang’s elongate and other human parts of their anatomy change somewhat too. I let you guess what might change. :evil grin:

Their animal background figures into their speech patterns as well. For example wolf shifter children are referred to as pups and female shifters may be referred to as a bitch. For my shifters, the term is descriptive not derogatory. Their families are called packs and wolves within those packs are alpha, beta or omega, depending on their temperament.

Fellow writers…do you have your shifters make the change to their alter egos often or occasionally? How do you decide what’s enough? Readers, how much shifting do you enjoy in novel featuring shapeshifters? Lots, none or just a bit?


Paris said...

In Assassin's Kiss, the hero was in his Jaguar Warrior form through almost all of the book but that was purposely done because it was part of the plot, which I think determines how many times your shifter's "change" more than anything.

Another determining factor is the world you set up and whether your character's can change at will or rely on the the moon's influence to change (or any other outside influence).

As a reader, I expect authors to be true to the world they create;-)Love those shifters!

Savanna Kougar said...

I think Paris said it best 'true to the worlds they create' ~

My red lioness. Sun Rocket, is in all three of her forms, but is probably in her lioness woman form the most because it's key to the sex scenes.

Sable, my heroine in Black Cat Beauty, keeps her little cat ears because she's wearing a black cat costume and can get away with it.

Zio, my stallion prince shifter, is in both his human and stallion form about equally because his stallion form is crucial to the story.

Trail is mostly in his human form during his story. However, when he is a stallion and a stallion of ash and flame, those times are key to the suspense element.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Paris. The needs of the story will dictate how often your shifters change and how long they need to stay in each shape. Author preference also figures in: I love dialogue, but animals can't talk, so my shifters tend to stay human most of the time so I can indulge my love of snappy repartee. Of course, if a shifter wants to end the conversation they can just change into their animal form. This is especially handy in interrogation scenes.

Then there's character preference. My latest story has a half-breed wolf who's never changed because he loathes his shifter side. Others might go the opposite direction and almost never turn human. Either can lead to intriguing conflict. Again, it depends on the character, the story, and the world.

Pat C.