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What to say about werewolves?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Svrtnsse, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Ahoy scribes, I need a little brainstorming help.

    On Thursday, I'm doing an author takeover in a facebook group, on the theme Shifters (werewolves etc). This is a great opportunity as my book has just been released and I'd like to try and make a good impression. Unfortunately, I'm late in preparing, and I'm looking for ideas, so I figured I'd ask here:

    What would you like to know about werewolves?

    I've got a few ideas already:
    - How does one become a werewolf?
    - What does it mean to be a werewolf?
    - What's a good theme song for a werewolf?
    - How does a werewolf fit into a society where they don't have to keep their existence a secret?
    - What kind of wereanimal would you be, given the choice?
    - What are drawbacks/benefits of being a werewolf?
    - What is your favorite story featuring werewolves?

    Okay, so that was a lot more than I thought I had. It might be enough even...
    When I started listing my ideas I only had the top three in the list.

    Even then, what kind if werewolf related topics could be interesting to talk about?
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    First thing I notice is, the topic includes an et cetera, but all your points are about werewolves. What about other were-beings? Is there room out on the edges, like for were-sparrows or were-penguins?

    Letting werewolf stand in for all their cousins, what's a werewolf's day job?

    Being a werewolf is somewhere between shameful and dangerous for humans. Is it the same for the wolf side? We always think of it as a human turning into a wolf, but maybe the wolves think of it as turning into a human.

    How much human reasoning is retained while in wolf form? Can a werewolf do algebra? They can't speak, presumably. I dunno. I don't read much in that genre.
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Great points. I'll add them in for discussion. Thanks. :)
  4. Mel Syreth

    Mel Syreth Scribe

    There is always the questions of the basics: Do werewolves change involuntarily under the Moon (full or otherwise) due to a curse, or they can shape-shift at will? Are they rampaging beasts every time they transform or only under specific conditions (again, full Moon)? Do they transform into big powerful furry towers of muscle or plain old regular looking wolves?

    Different rules fit better for different stories.
    Chessie2 and Svrtnsse like this.
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Cool. This is a good point too. I'll try to fit that in. :)
  6. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

    When I think of werewolves or were-creatures Glen Duncan’s “The Last Werewolf” and Larry Niven’s mers in the “Burning Tower” always spring to mind. The Last Werewolf is a cursed man, beset by lunatic urges to, ahh, kill, eat and sex (to tone down the language). All the ghosts of those he has killed haunt him (they’re in his head, literally). Niven’s mers are whales and dolphins that transform into humans when there is enough mana. I remember one scene with a large black and white man (orca) was joking that if Coyote’s Daughter had used up all the mana he would be rolling down the hill right now.

    I always wanted see a biker gang of werewolves with Metallica playing.

    Personally I like the idea of someone taking the skin of the animal, preparing it using spells and rituals, and then wearing it to become that creature. Unfortunately that tends to limit their numbers, not ideal if you want packs; which I think has great story potential but is often overlooked or poorly executed.

    I’d be a jaguar.

    Jobs for werewolves could be airport security (I can just see this seven foot monster sniffing luggage saying ‘Did you pack this yourself?). Idk honestly. Why discriminate?
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Werewolf stories all tend to have a theme about taming the monster within. It makes me think of the Hulk, or else a parallel with somebody who struggles to control their anger or abusive behaviors. Thinking about it this way........ I feel like I'm running into an essay question. :shifty::yawn:

    Thinking about it like that, though, it's kind of fun to think about the stories that lend themselves to these themes (which may be why werewolf stories about the "pack" feel somehow off to me), or else ways to craft a story which still feels werewolfy while avoiding those themes. But also, think about how those themes shifts for a different animal. A were-sparrow might work for a character who's hiding their creative talents from everyone else. It's late or would think through more possibilities.

    I don't know if any of that could spark a discussion point for your group or otherwise help your needs, but it seemed appropriate to bring up the themes.
  8. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

    How about how they die, the whole silver bullet thing. Hmm...silver kills bacteria...maybe becoming a werewolf is simply an infection...and it’s in the saliva so when they bite people...
  9. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    I now have more topics than I can reasonably fit into the one hour time slot I've got for this. :)

    Now to pick out which ones to include, and whittle them down to posts that encourage some discussion.
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    I'll probably share my posts here once they're done. :)
    Devor likes this.
  11. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    I'm late to this conversation but am currently writing a paranormal romance with werewolves set in the Victorian era. :D

    I want to specifically answer this. In some mythologies, werewolves shift voluntarily, others under the moon, others are infected by bites, others are cursed, etc. My understanding of werewolf mythology is that each time period/culture has its own definition of what a werewolf is and how it comes to be one. For example, in some Native American mythology the man shifts into an actual wolf, whereas our modern idea of there werewolf didn't necessarily come to be until the 1800s.

    In my story, I handle things a bit differently. There is a curse that has been placed upon the family but the readers don't really learn who is responsible, just what it has done to the family and how they come to be cured. The characters shift voluntarily the stronger they get--meaning that at first, the draw of the moon causes them to shift. They have more control over this as they age but their minds flip as well to the point where the moon has a magnetic power psychologically speaking: they enjoy the thrill of the hunt and see the pain of shifting as a price to pay for true freedom.

    What really matters are the rules in your story and that you follow them down to the letter. I also think that it's easier for readers to believe the happenings in the story if you are consistent and draw from a mythology that is familiar to them.
    Mel Syreth and Svrtnsse like this.
  12. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    What happens to a werewolf on the moon?
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  13. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    That is a VERY good question. One that I've never seen asked. :)
  14. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    They feel an uncontrollable urge to howl all the time, but cant figure out what at.
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  15. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    It dies from asphyxiation because it's on the moon.
    A. E. Lowan and Svrtnsse like this.
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Oh, right, and if someone's on FB, and wants to join, the link to the group it's in is Fantasy and Sci-Fi Readers Lounge - I'm pretty sure you don't require approval to join, but I could be wrong.

    Otherwise, I'll share my posts here, along with any interesting questions/comments.
  17. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Okay, so it's done. I had all my posts pre-written and saved in a file, so I'll be pasting that in here - minus any pictures. I also skipped the intro post as that's not really relevant here. :p

    Please keep in mind that this was as much an attempt to promote my book as it was an introduction to therianthropes within the setting I've created for the book.

    What kind of shifters are there?
    No, it's not just werewolves. In the world of Lost Dogs, shifters come in many different shapes, but they're all humans with the ability to turn into an animal, and that animal can only be a predatory mammal. There are no weresharks or werecows.
    Also, I decided to skip out on the were-thing and instead went for calling them therianthropes (Link: Therianthropy - Wikipedia). The shorter, more common term, is terry, and if you want to be politically incorrect, it's dog.
    This, by the way, is where the title for the series comes from. Lost Dogs refers to the two main characters and how they're a bit lost in the world (metaphorically and literally), and how they're trying to find their way home.

    Shifters come by many different names and kinds. Someone I know used the term therian in their stories, and they had bunnies. What other names have you come across, and what is your favourite kind of shifter?

    What's life like?
    To be a therianthrope – a shifter – is to share your body with a beast living inside your mind. Kind of like a mental room mate who comes and goes as they wish, spies at everything you do, and who throws a big party once a month that you can never quite remember.
    Also, you can't throw them out, and the longer you live together, the more like them you become.

    In Lost Dogs, the character Roy has a wolf living in a vast forest within his mind. Sometimes near, and sometimes far away, but always present. Always there.
    The wolf is a character in its own right. It's got a will of its own, and it's got its own ideas of how to handle the problems Roy faces during the story. Often, Roy and the wolf do not agree, for even if the wolf has lived within Roy's mind for nearly two decades, it's still very much a wolf.
    Fortunately, for Roy, he's on pretty good terms with the wolf. They've known each other for a long time, and they get along decently. Imagine what it's like when that's not the case – when the beast inside your mind absolutely hates you and does its best to ruin your life in any way it can.
    As a teaser, that's what Alene, the other main character of Lost Dogs, has to deal with. If there was a list of fictional characters I didn't want to meet, she'd be at the top of the list.

    How about you?
    If you were a therianthrope (shifter), what kind of animal would live within your mind, and what would it look like?

    The white sister in the sky.
    As a shifter, you're under the sway of the moon. Once a month, the beast within your mind forces itself out, and your body transforms. You're powerless to stop it, and the roles are reversed. The animal is in control, and you're just a passenger riding along in the back of its mind.
    Depending on whether your inner beast likes you or not, it might pay attention to what you want, but it's the beast that's in control.

    Shifters can, if they want to, transform into their animal forms at other times as well. When shifting in this way, their bestial aspect grows stronger, but its control is not complete. A human shifter who needs to travel a long distance through difficult terrain can change into their animal form and have an easier time covering the distance.
    Of course, this requires a certain trust between the beast and the human. It may very well be that the beast decides it doesn't want to run that way at all and goes off hunting rabbits instead. You may not be able to resist it.

    If you had a wild beast living within your mind, would you trust it to take over control of your body? Silly analogy: would you trust your dog to drive you to work while you slept in the back seat?

    Shifters and Everyone Else
    In the world of Lost Dogs, shifters aren't secret. Neither are elves, or magic, or dragons – except dragons are really rare (and they don't feature in the story). In that sense, shifters aren't supernatural, and they have a role to play in modern society.
    Let's take a step back and talk a little about the world in general, just briefly. The basic idea was to take an ordinary, traditional, bog-standard fantasy world, and then fast forward it into something like the modern world of today, only with all of the fantastic elements intact – including shifters.
    Shifters are, by their very nature, stronger and tougher than ordinary humans. They're able to take on jobs that require strength and stamina, and they're often found working as security guards of various kinds.
    Unfortunately, due to their sometimes unreliable relationship to their inner beast, it's rare to find shifters working in law enforcement. It's just not deemed safe, but whether that's warranted or not varies from individual to individual.

    Roy, one of the main characters of Lost Dogs, is (or was) a world famous wrestler.
    Given time, a shifter can recover from almost any injury. Having them beat each other up for the entertainment of the masses is not a new idea in this world.

    If you were a shifter, with the increased strength and stamina that comes with it, how would you best put that to use in your daily life? What would you work as?
    It's perfectly fine to want to be an artist. Just because you're crazy strong doesn't mean you have to dedicate yourself to lifting heavy things – or maybe you'd like to get into nature photography and visit places so hostile regular humans can't go there for long enough.

    Almost Invulnerable – Almost
    Like in a lot of werewolf mythology, the shifters in the world of Lost Dogs are vulnerable to silver. Contact with silver does not mean instant death though, and doesn't even guarantee it. However, silver does hamper the accelerated healing of a shifter and it causes them a great deal of pain.

    Let's return again to Roy, the werewolf wrestler. Silver is used as a safety measure to protect the audience if something goes wrong during a match and one of the fighters loses control completely.
    The fighting ring is surrounded by a fence with the wires coated in silver, and security guards are able to use silver spray to pacify a fighter. Silver spray burns the skin of the shifter, and knocks them out, but it does not kill them. It also prevents them from shifting into animal form if they haven't already.

    Another threat to the shifter comes from within. As they grow older, the beast within them grows stronger, both physically and mentally. This is a slow process that goes on for decades. Over time though, old shifters start taking on features of their animal aspect even in their human form.
    Their ears grow pointed, and their canines longer. Chests grow hairier, and nails turn into claws.
    At the same time, the animal aspect begins to influence the shifters personality more and more. Shifters who survive to old age often withdraw from society and escape into the wilderness. In this way they don't pose any danger to the people around them, and they won't run the risk of being locked up (or put down).
    Being a shifter gives a person some physical advantages, but it's also a curse slowly eating away at who you are.

    Then again, returning to the wild to roam free on four legs may be a dream for some people. Would you do it?

    How do you become a shifter?
    I have a confession to make.
    Even after years of writing about shifters, I still haven't nailed down where they come from. About the only thing I know is that it's not hereditary. You're not born a shifter, it's something that happens to you at some point later in life.
    It's just... I'm not sure how.
    So far it hasn't been important to the story, but I can't help but feel like I'm missing out.

    What's your take on how shifters are created? I can't promise I'll follow the results of the poll, but I'm still curious to see how others feel about it.
    Shifter creation poll – how do you become a shifter.
    • It's a curse.
    • It's a blood borne disease
    • A shifter bites you
    • You're born with it
    • Bitten by an animal under certain conditions

    Done, that's about it.

    As you can see, I barely scratched the surface, and I probably didn't address even half the suggestions I got in this thread. It was a fun experience though, and I think I learned a few things for the next time. :)
    Futhark and Chessie2 like this.
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    It would be interesting if there was one character who could shape-shift at will, while there's another for whom it's the standard full moon curse. Could be some interesting interplay there.

    In Altearth, it was just natural and obvious to have Richard the Lionhearted be a shapeshifter. Right now it's just the idea, not a story. But at least it gets me away from wolves.
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  19. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Something that came up in the discussion was how there's a difference between werewolves and shifters. It seems the expectations placed on the two are slightly different. I'm a bit uncertain on exactly what the differences are, and I don't think there's any kind of consensus. It just seems like the two are somewhat separate.
  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    Shifters transform into the actual animal whereas werewolves change into a beast/monstrosity. Shifters also have a natural affinity for this, meaning, they are born with the power to change vs the were-anything that is cursed into it.
    Futhark and Svrtnsse like this.
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