Naked shapeshifters? A writing problem.

pixabay image compilation

I’m about 21,000 words into my latest WIP after a week of NaNo. Can I keep up the pace? Not a chance! But it feels good that the words are spewing – yeah… spewing. πŸ™‚

But I have a problem… naked shapeshifters. They’re distracting, and I refuse to bog down the story to deal with all the nudity or the logistics of finding clothing. I’m curious as to how you might handle it.

The challenges of keeping your clothes on while shapeshifting

My human characters are shapeshifters. The story is an adventure that takes place over four large territories. Shapeshifting is a convenient way of traveling, spying, stealing, protecting oneself, and escaping some sticky situations. There are extreme drawbacks to shifting, so it’s a choice that has to be carefully weighed.

Anyway, when a human shifts into a bird or leopard or beetle, for example, their clothes don’t fit anymore and, logically, are left behind. (Yes, exceptions abound, but I’m not going there .)

So the animal travels or escapes, and then shifts back into human form somewhere in the mountains or jungle. It would follow that their tidbits are fully exposed to the elements, to the terrain, and to each other. Naked shapeshifters dangling and bouncing, wrapping themselves in handy fern fronds, or keeping a thousand stashes of plastic-wrapped outfits all over the vast territories doesn’t work for me. What to do?

Of course, I googled this problem, and I’m not the only one to face it.

Here are some ideas based on my research:

1. Clothing is a part of the shifter’s physical organism and when he changes, his clothing goes along for the ride.Β It’s part of his being. Damaged clothing could regenerate just like physical injuries.

2. Shapeshifters transform by rearranging the space that their physical organism and clothing occupy. The matter that makes up clothing transforms with them.

3. Similar to fey glamor, a shifter doesn’t physically reconfigure matter or change form, only appears to. Thus clothing is optional, and only the shifter knows the truth.

4. A shifter’s pattern, or archetype, is not limited to the physical body and appearance, but includes, personality traits, quirks, instincts, and training, as well as a distinctive choice of clothing. Just as the pattern of a wolf or bear includes a specific coloring of skin and fur. When a shifter changes into another archetype, the clothing disappears with his humanness. When he retakes his human form, the human imprint reappears. The shapeshifter simply transforms from one archetype to another, and back.

5. Another take on patterning – Magic is a form of energy. It interacts strongly with matter and can be controlled consciously. A shifter transforms by mentally reforming his self-image into an animal. The mental image provides a pattern for the magic, and they shift to match. Same thing in reverse, with clothing.

6. Shifters perform a ritual using the carcass of the animal they wish to turn into. They wear the skin or furs of that animal, and when they shift, the ritualΒ pulls through the “bonded” matter around the shifting body. When transforming back, the spell returns the shifter’s body and other matter to its former arrangement.

7. Shifter clothing is crafted from animal skins and furs so it can morph with the shapeshifter.Β Inorganic items cannot shift and are left behind.

8. Clothing is made for a child-shifter using hides, hair, feathers, and other animal materials. During a ritual, the clothing is patterned to the child, who eventually learns to shift with them. Until they learn this skill, they are shifting in the naked human form.

9. A shifter imbibes a substance that permeates the body and gives the shifter control over his physical organism, integrating consciousness with anatomy. The substance reacts based on the conscious commands of the shifter.

10. The clothing is made of psychoactive fibers thatΒ meld into a shifter’s body when he transforms, completely hidden from view.

11. Shifters wear some kind of charm that allows them to change or create appropriate clothing.

12. Magic requires no explanation – it just works.

13. Clothing doesn’t exist in this world.

14. Deal with the nakedness.

15. Have everyone wear ponchos.

Is there one or two of the above that appeal to you? Any other ideas?

Happy Writing!

234 thoughts on “Naked shapeshifters? A writing problem.

  1. Widdershins says:

    I like the one about only organic materials can be ‘shifted’ and the one where the ‘shifter’ is trained as a child. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seto says:

    Reblogged this on Stow-away Book and commented:
    amazing, but when aren’t they X’]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seto says:

    I love how slowly the options start becoming real funny. Like “Deal with nudity”, I like that. XD. I would believe #1,6,10,14 &15. Ponchos would make it more amazing because all I can think about is a small child in a yellow pancho shapshifting into a small duckling, in a rain pancho. YESSSS, it’s late.. . .:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The poncho idea was a take on the real options of capes and robes. Ponchos just made me laugh. Deal with the nudity is still an option – it could serious complicate the character’s choices. This has been a lot of fun and what a huge variety of preferences! Thanks for voting and Happy Writing!

      Like

  4. dgkaye says:

    Helping you on on this is so not in my wheelhouse lol, so I’m going with #12 Magic! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide and commented:
    Might need this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like 2 because you can go to science and nature for an explanation. Shape-shifting is a conscious act that happens on a quantum level therefore the shift is complete. The clothing is an elaborate textured camouflage formed by the shape-shifters squid like skin.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Diana. I always enjoy it when you ponder in a post.
    It’s interesting to me that we (and I would be asking the same question if I was the one writing) wonder so much about this one. Partly we are used to seeing it explained ever since the Incredible Hulk burst from his shirt (and stayed in apparently stretchy pants), to that vintage movie of the Colossal Man. Not quite the same as shape-shifting, but close enough. I think it reflects the discomfort our culture has with nudity. And I freely admit that I’m an utter prude about it. LOL. o_O

    My reaction is sort of like #12, except I’m not so much about the magic of it. I just don’t feel the need to explain the cause and effect of my magic when I write. However, given what I said above… I really don’t know how I would handle your drafty predicament of a draft novel. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for a fun post. Mega hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Teagan. I was surprised how many bloggers suggested no explanation was necessary. I tend to want a semi-quasi-sciency basis to the magic in my stories, but the point to not belabor the mechanics struck home. It’s all just fun, isnt’ it? This was really helpful. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. KL Wagoner says:

    I love it, only speculative fiction writers have this dilemma! I think I like 5 and 7, as well as 12. Looking through your comments, I see you’ve included a cost for shapeshifting as the expending of energy. Adding clothing to the shift might mean using even more energy (that they might want to save or which they may not have). You’re a brilliant writer. Whatever you choose will be logical for your story.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the votes and suggestion, Kathy. So true that speculative fiction requires some very creative problem solving. This was fascinating to see all the responses and it helped to clarify my thinking. Now to distill in light of the needs of the story. πŸ™‚ Happy Writing!

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  9. inesephoto says:

    I think that #3 sounds like an easy explanation, and of course #12 is the best :). Surprised there is such a vast knowledge on the subject found in the internet. I wonder, how much of it was supplied by the shapeshifters themselves πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Silent Hour says:

    Two, four and mostly twelve. Magic just works. Is the shapeshifter in human form? He/She has clothes on. Are they going about their business in animal form? They have fur or feathers on.

    Just like in mythology. When a god transforms into a human or elemental form, we are not told what happens to their clothes. And we don’t really care, because there are more interesting things going on.

    Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the votes. A lot of other bloggers agree with you, and I certainly don’t want to bog down the story dealing with details of the magic, hunt for clothes, or excessive nudity. πŸ™‚ I also have to take into account the needs of the story, which adds a bit of complication I didn’t share because of spoilers. It’s been fun getting all this feedback and the wide variety of idea. Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. rijanjks says:

    My favorite – “Magic just works. It requires no explanation.” πŸ™‚ Congrats on the word count!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jan. Lots of bloggers voted for that simple solutions. The different opinions were fascinating and so helpful. Now I have to digest them and see what will work best for the story. I appreciate the visit and vote. πŸ™‚ Happy Writing!

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  12. Wishing you the necessary inspiration

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like 1, 2, 10 and 11. Wouldn’t be nice if these are real to human? We don’t have to decide on the sizes of clothing. Very intriguing ideas. You’re doing great with the NaNo word counts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Miriam. Thanks for voting! Everyone has been so helpful, and I love the variety of opinions. Yes, wouldn’t it be fun to just imagine what we wanted to wear and there it was, perfectly fitted. I’m very short, so that would save me lots of hemming. Ha ha. I did a big Nano push but I have lots of commitments coming up, so I wanted to get ahead a little. It will even out. Thanks for the visit! Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m short also, buying pants is a challenge to me. I had struggle last year for NaNo because my granddaughter was born in September, then hosting the Thanksgiving dinner. The first half was okay, the second half just has a trace of story line.
        Happy writing to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. acflory says:

    I’ve actually read a very good fantasy series which revolved around shape shifters. They weren’t exactly human and changed into a specific ‘other’ form, but the principle was the same.
    The one thing I found terribly distracting about the story was the clothing. The author decided that clothing would shift with the shifter.
    Yes, it was a convenient way of dealing with the problem, but it always left me feeling cheated. Despite the fact that shape shifting is pure make believe, and despite all the rationales you listed in your post, shifting things that do not belong to your body still feels wrong to me.
    Honestly, is nakedness so very bad? I can see some really interesting plot angles that would grow organically out of the lack of clothing. In fact I recently read a story about an FBI agent who was secretly a werewolf. When he shifted, he was left naked, and it did become a vital part of the plot. And my prissy little fact-checker sub-conscious loved it.
    Whether we write science fiction or fantasy, ultimately the world building is only as good as the honesty of the world we create. If that world can’t abide by its own rules then, imho, it will never feel completely real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree completely, Andrea, and that’s why I had to ask for feedback. My prissy little fact-checker self agrees with you – to have the clothes shift with the character feels like a cheat (too easy). However, I have so many shifts in so many places, that one of my characters would be naked for most of the book, and in places where he could be executed as a shifter. Granted this is an opportunity for conflict and tension, but it might get stale after the tenth time. And my other main characters would spend a fair amount of time without clothes too. I doubt the goblins would care, but the elves? Hmm, not so much. I’d have to use a fair amount of story real-estate acquiring clothes which doesn’t advance the plot. So much to think about. Thanks for the feedback – very helpful and much to think about! Happy Writing. πŸ˜€

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      • acflory says:

        It’s a tricky problem that’s for sure, and I do understand the issue with rampant nudity. A bit much unless you set the story /in/ a nudist colony. πŸ™‚
        Not sure if this helps or not, but magic is a ‘thing’, right? What if shifters all had pierced ears with a small, unobtrusive gem in their. Or a rune tatooed onto their skin or some other magic artifact that is ‘part of their body’. Rub the artifact before shifting and the clothing is swallowed up by the magic ‘thing’. Shift back to human, rub the artifact again and hey presto, clothing is back.
        Still awkward but there’s a kind of cause/effect thing happening.
        You could explain the process once or twice, perhaps with some mishaps along the way. After that the reader should be able to fill in the gaps when you say ‘XX shifted back to human form and went home’.
        I must say I’ve totally enjoyed the brainstorming you inspired. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • After your last comment, nudity is back on the table, Andrea, but with very little emphasis. And my shifters will have to be a little more proactive, as well deal with some problematic situations. I want my “quasi science” to explain all the magic in the book – not just shape-shifting – which is why matter-manipulation is an option. Thanks for being such a great person to bounce ideas off. πŸ™‚

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  15. I like 11-12 best and simple! πŸ˜† I could not help it but giggling was involved with my reading. ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You are one amazing writer, Diana! ❀ xo

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So many ideas! I never thought about all the options; most of the books I’ve read with shapeshifters work the nude angle (start dressed, shift, shift back nude). Some manage to bring their clothes with them so they have them when they return to human form (Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series is like this). Some just accept the nudity as a ss thing and the ss only wear clothes so humans aren’t uncomfortable about it (Laurell K Hamilton does this sort of angle). My favorite is a variation of #7. Jennifer Roberson did something similar in her Chronicles of the Cheysuli series. I actually use a variation of #7 in my contemporary Irish fantasy. I know you’ll figure out something clever!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great references, Julie. In the cities, I have “hideaways” where shifters go to transform and recover their strength (its illegal to shift in the Borderland). But shifting is going to take place everywhere and the rampant nudity would need to be dealt, with since goblins and elves don’t shift – until something happens that I won’t share. Ha ha. The suggestions have been great and I definitely have a stronger direction. Happy Writing! I hope you’re making lots of progress. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  18. equinoxio21 says:

    I go with 13 and 14. deal with it. πŸ˜‰
    (Lovely idea though. Congrats)
    Bon week-end.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Steven Baird says:

    Personally, I like number 12… it just is. I’ve often wondered about the Hulk, always wearing the same size pants whenever he transformed, though he’s clearly larger than Dr. Banner. I read somewhere that the best fantasy/science fiction needn’t explain itself. There is an interior logic to the story that doesn’t require a background check. The ideas of the story are — or should be — to move the story forward, trusting the reader to tag along. Just my two cents worth, though I completely understand wanting to figure out the architecture. I think you’re doing great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m certainly leaning in that direction, Steven. It’s been highly recommended. I do prefer a more quasi-science approach than a magical one. So, I might go with a simple sentence or two and then leave it at that. I do have a couple of character who are forced to become shifters, so I need a process for that and may combine the two. The discussions have helped a lot. Everyone has such great ideas. Thanks for the visit, my friend. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steven Baird says:

        I think the writing/imaginative process is fascinating, the way we work out our imagination… It’s an amazing thing. We work in different genres, and I’m frankly in awe of what you write and your imagination. It all comes from the same well, I think, but the water tastes a little different for every one of us, and I trust your imagination to tell a fulfilling and wonderful story.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I like that when they change matter they change any matter touching them into anything they like – this would imply they could change other things by absorbing them, by the way, OR they can recall an archetype that they have learned to be. If they have been a human wearing a tunic once – even by dressing that way – then they can reproduce that shape again at will. OR the whole shift is just an illusion to others’ perception – favoring the first or second, depending on whether absorption is useful in your story or whether skill/experience is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sheri, for the visit and the ideas. Your note about what’s “useful to the story” is key. I tried to make a complete list but only some of these are viable options. I like the whole idea of patterning archetypes and that once a shape has been assumed, there’s a reusable imprint. This whole discussion has been very helpful. Have a great weekend and Happy Nano!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. janmalique says:

    Loved this post Diana! Intriguing possibilities abound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Jan. This is a part of writing fantasy that I find so fun – world-building! I like trying to make all the fantastical components integrate into something that the reader forgets isn’t real. πŸ™‚ The comments were extremely helpful in guiding my thoughts. Have a great weekend and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha. Well, I hope this gave you some ideas! It was amazing how many different responses showed up in the comments. Most of the bloggers emphasized keeping it simple so the story doesn’t bog down with wardrobe issues, and I think that’s good advice. But I also realized that the right answer to the question of shifter-clothing is dependent on the story and world-building, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I wish you tons of luck. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Make your shapeshifter a nudist. Your character can’t miss his/her clothes if they’re never there in the first place. Problem solved! And you’re welcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Wow just when I think you have reached the top of creativity! You are amazing! Love this

    Liked by 1 person

  24. cagedunn says:

    I like 4 and 8, plus the idea of a tattoo when the child attains mastery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cage. I really like 4 and 8 too, and may go with some sort of blend. Not all of the items on this list would work with the story, but it was fun laying them out and opening them up for discussion. Everyone is so creative. Thanks for adding your thoughts. πŸ™‚ I see your Nano-editing is going great!

      Liked by 1 person

      • cagedunn says:

        Thanks. I think I need a deadline to push me past the re-re-re-revisions – and having the new story as the carrot on a stick at the end of it – better than chocolate!
        Good luck with the story – it sounds intriguing.

        Liked by 2 people

  25. That is certainly an interesting point to ponder, and I see that you have many avenues to go. I am so happy that the creative juices are flowing for you Diana! How awesome it is to have that feeling of accomplishment. I guess I’m just too simple and magic is too overpowering, so I’d go with magic doesn’t need an explanation. Happy NaNo progress my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re definitely not alone in the suggestion that magic doesn’t need an explanation, Lana. I have a couple “non-shifter” characters who become shifters in order to get out of a crisis, so I need some kind of “process or assist” that gives them the ability. It has been great fun getting suggestions, especially to keep it as simple as possible. Thanks for the visit, my friend, and Happy Writing. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m sorry I’m not going to be much help with this one. I was going to say they could just run to the phone booth where they left their “Clark Kent”ish clothes, but now we don’t even have phone booths anymore. What’s a shifter to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. You’re making fantastic progress with NaNo, Diana. It’s such a great investment of a writer’s time. I’ve got a December 1st deadline, otherwise I would have joined you. I laughed at #14 and # 15! πŸ™‚ Keep up the great writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I usually just have them deal with wardrobe issues. πŸ™‚ I just don’t let it take up much story space, unless it’s a plot point at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for weighing in, Jason. “Wardrobe issues.” Ha ha. Not that I’m against the idea of clothing being another complication for the characters, but I have too many shifts in too many different scenarios and settings, and often on the run. They wouldn’t always have time, and then I’d have all this nudity to deal with with three different types of “races,” including goblins. πŸ™‚ Ack! It’s been fun getting feedback, and your point about not taking up too much story space is key. πŸ™‚ Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Look at the splendid ideas pouring in, Diana! I like 12, 14, and 15 with ponchos being my favorite since it’s the kind of clothing I like to wear. It is a fantastic camouflage for the shapeshifting I do during winter months. Another idea is to have the characters patterned after Barbie and Ken dolls with tidbits that are mere suggestions. πŸ˜‰ You are on fire, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Oh, this is a popular topic! πŸ™‚ I think of The Hulk – we are expected to be ok with the fact that he rips and tears and outgrows his clothes, yet they still fit and when Hulk is gone, the clothes are good to go again….. I am always distracted by that scenario. #4 makes the most sense to me. Otherwise, I think, you (as SS) might risk losing yourself completely. Never able to return. In The Time Traveller’s Wife (from memory – sometimes not that reliable on books read long ago any more) he arrives wherever naked and the twists involve him having to find clothes and what happens when he can’t and the weather is inclement…….. It is a very different kind of writing to yours though. Personally I prefer the mystical, magical element. Also ancient legends involving shape shifting never mention the problem of clothing. Shifting entails the ability to appear where and as necessary, the physics of the material world have no place there. I shall look forward to discovering what scenario you go with xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aahhh. You hit on something I’ve already planned, Pauline. You’re so clever. I want lots of limitations to my shifting and one is that they can get “lost”/stuck in animal form if they’re there too long. And yes, Time Traveler’s Wife is a perfect example of the nudity issue, which works wonderfully in that story, but I think will be too much trouble in mine. I won’t be able to (and don’t want to) avoid the mystical/magical, but I want a world where there are limits and its use isn’t as easy as snapping one’s fingers. The characters will have to work for it and suffer for it. (I’m so mean to them.) πŸ™‚ Thanks for the visit and for the wonderful comment. Have a wonderful weekend. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I like #4–the idea that with shape shifting also comes characteristics of the animals being shifted to as well. It is easily explained and can lend additional complexity to characters, as needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the vote! It’s so fun to see all the different ideas and preferences. I agree with you that shifting should be more than just an appearance-change. How could one live as a seal, for example, and not have an altered perception of the ocean, the body’s movement, and the feel of the water while swimming? Ah, so much to think about. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. C.E.Robinson says:

    Diana, sounds like a dilemma! I read the post and my mind clicked into #11. I’d say a shapeshifter is born with a birth mark/ tattoo like wth built in magic in the shape of a chosen animal for them. They grow up and learn to shapeshift by touching the mark, then touching it again to become a human wearing the same clothes. The charm sounds like a dangling thing that would get wound up in the animal fur or fall off. Good luck! Quite a challenge. πŸ“šπŸŽΆ Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great addition, Christine. The amulet/charm idea wasn’t going to work easily so a birthmark or magically infused tattoo is a great solution. You should be writing fantasy. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Never thought about writing fantasy. But I love to conjure up imagery like that. My WIP does have the main character’s magical numerology gift that was fun to develop. Look forward to how you work through the shapeshifter’s clothes challenge. Happy Writing back! πŸ“šπŸŽΆ

        Liked by 1 person

  33. balroop2013 says:

    No explanation for magic…it can happen anywhere and whatever form the writer wants to give. So shapeshifters could land anywhere in any form, naturally fitting into the skin they assume. Happy writing Diana, you are doing a fab job!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Dewin Nefol says:

    Namaste Diana πŸ™‚

    Of course I love the fantastical, the imaginative and the fanciful – in fact all superlative ideas that convey the notion of otherworldliness. However, with a dilemma such as this, which one might consider a side-real issue to the main event of actually shape-shifting, simplicity might well be your best option. Why not suggest that a shape-shifter’s magic alters the onlookers perception to the point where nakedness isn’t a consideration for them. It then doesn’t matter if the shape-shifter is naked for the observer doesn’t see deviation from what is normal or expected.

    I wonder what you might come up with by way of a creative solution?

    Namaste πŸ™‚

    DN

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Dewin. That was indeed one of the options. I’m coming to realize that simplicity is a major factor in this decision. Perhaps as long as I understand the details and mechanics, it’s not necessary to lay much of it out to the reader. I’m going to let this all simmer, and then write. Have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dewin Nefol says:

        Thank you for posing the dilemma. I think you are absolutely right: your readers are imaginative and creative and in the absence of any defined explanation may very well either just dismiss the need to ask or apply their own reasoning. I recall reading The Hobbit and wondering how Beorn managed this feat (becoming a Bear) and concluded that he was most probably a very powerfully built hairy man to begin with! Problem solved lol πŸ™‚

        Have fun with the writing. Take care,

        Namaste πŸ™‚

        DN

        Liked by 1 person

  35. Not writing this genre, I am addictively intrigued by this. I find myself agreeing with several–that the clothes can be reproduced just as the creature is, that it’s magic and that’s enough. And your efriend who said it’s all imaginary so the shapeshifter can project clothes that are seen–those resonate with me. I’ll be curious to see what you decide on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were just talking about research on your blog, Jacqui, and now you get a glimpse of some of my “research.” Ha ha. I haven’t totally decided, but this has been immensely helpful – especially the recommendation to not get too bogged down in it. Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

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  36. This is a writer’s problem for sure. I personally like number 3, but reading through the comments, it’s not a popular solution. I like it because it has an element of messing with the viewer’s (the other character’s) mind. Then that opens the doorway to a twist in the plot. An evil villain who learns how to see through the ruse and recognize the shapeshifter, a love interest who comes to see through the ruse because love is stronger than magic . . ..

    Fun stuff! Good luck with the rest of your novel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Priscilla. I actually think most of them are viable within the right story. I imagine they’ve all been used somewhere successfully. The feedback has been so interesting, and really quite varied, though all immensely helpful in steering my choices. It’s been fun, and it’s part of what I love about writing. Have a great weekend!

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  37. The V Pub says:

    Their tidbits are showing? Oh my! I do like #1 best for a solution.

    Like

  38. Hi Diana – I’ve read all the options and option 5 is the one that seems a natural fit to me – come back as was, no explanation, no dressing up, keep the energy, the pace of the story and move it on. Eric.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the vote, Eric. Lots of bloggers like that one. Weighing down the story is definitely something I don’t want to do, and this ability was giving me a headache! Ha ha. The comments have been very helpful. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  39. An interesting conundrum, Diana. I am going to be a bit naughty and say that I never saw Professor McGonagall naked in Harry Potter so just do what she did [smile].

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hee hee. Harry Potter is a magic-based book, so magic is highly changeable and flexible. Anything is possible and no explanations are required. It’s wonderful. Thanks for the giggle, Robbie. Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. trentpmcd says:

    Three thoughts.

    First, most places it seems to be #11 – why explain it if you don’t have to? Isn’t that the meaning of magic?

    The second is a story with the shape-shifter leaving behind a pile of clothing (torn to shreds if they take a larger shape) and then going back to human in the nude would make a very interesting story, or at least a plot point. What if they couldn’t control when and where they shifted back? Could be embarrassing!

    Third, if they need cloths and you need an explanation, I like some combination of #2 and #5 above. They shift from a pattern that includes clothing. That pattern is “stored” (somehow) and when they shift back, it is to that pattern, which included the clothing. This is done on the fly – if their hair is dirty and messed up as they shift, it is when they return. If one picks up a penny and puts it in his pocket two seconds before shifting, it is included in that pattern and the penny, the same exact penny, is there when he returns to human form. Same with carried accessories – purses, backpacks, weapons, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the ideas, Trent. Lots of responses have stated that no explanation is necessary. I am not a fan of totally unexplained magic though – I like strong limitations. The patterning appeals to me too. It’s semi-quasi-scientific-sounding and a quick explanation that doesn’t require a lot of detail. Have a great weekend and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Mae Clair says:

    I like the idea of “magic requires no explanation. It just works.’ In the old days of epic fantasy (many decades ago) shifter nakedness wasn’t even addressed. It was just a given that the clothes were there when the person shifted back. I actually liked that better than the trend to address it.

    BTW, congrats on the spewing πŸ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Mae. You’re not the only one who voted for “don’t try to explain it.” It’s definitely made me rethink my approach to the ability, so thank you. My word count today will be a bust, and the grandson is coming over for the weekend, but I got a good head start. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  42. This is a fun problem to have Diana! I recently read a book by Nora Roberts in which a character could transform into any animal and back. Clothing was never mentioned and I didn’t think about it. I just assumed he came back to his original state.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! Isn’t that an interesting solution! Just ignore the problem and let the reader’s imagination take over and fill in the gaps. If a story is plausible in all the other ways, the shifting becomes plausible too. My brain wants at least a tiny bit of explanation, but you make a good point that a lot of detail isn’t necessary. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  43. You, too??? β™₯β™₯

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Staci Troilo says:

    If the Hulk’s pants can stretch and fray to accommodate his size, I’m going to say a shifter’s clothes would stretch (and fray), too. Not sure what that will mean when they switch back, though. Could make for interesting conversations. I can see my brother walking into Thanksgiving dinner and trying to explain tattered clothes to my mother.

    Can’t wait to see how you resolve it!

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Belinda says:

    I like number twelve, because when I am reading a magical story, I don’t particularly want to know why, my imagination takes care of small details like clothes and too much reality, or explanation, makes me question the entire premise, because truly, it is all false, so don’t draw attention to it. But that’s just me and I am sure there are just as many, if not more, readers who want an explanation and do not accept the vague world building. 🌸

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Always detailed. πŸ˜€
    Even before reading over your impressive research, I was leaning toward explanations like 7, 8, and 10.
    I also thought something like the shifter can retain parts of animal forms: in a sense, create just the fur (feathers, scales, etc.) needed to be decent till clothing is acquired. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Chelsea. I thought it might be useful to consolidate all these ideas in case another writer faces the same challenge. Thanks for the votes. I thought of the animal-based clothing when a shifter changes back to human, but the characters would be running around covered in feathers or beetle wings, etc. Ha ha. As spies in a city, this would draw too much attention. Lol. It’s a great suggestion though. Remnants of the animal could easily dust their clothes as an interesting detail. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Writing!

      Like

  47. babbitman says:

    Here’s another one. I don’t think it’s covered in the list above but gets around a lot of the problems: a shapeshifter can make their own molecules and DNA etc. flow and change into another creature; they can also, once back into their own humanoid form, hold other organic matter (leaves, straw, grass, ferns, whatever, maybe horse poo if you’re desperate) and make that flow and change into another form (generally thin sheets of material which can be wrapped around the body or worn as a cloak). If you google non-woven fabric you’ll get an idea of what it might look like (a kind of fibrous thin felt). Of course this also saps the strength, so perhaps they have to make the choice of being clothed and staying still for a bit or being able to move but being all nude. And cold.
    Hope that helps!
    πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m thinking about something in that direction, Nick, an innate predisposition combined with an organic link, potentially a need to trigger and refine the skill. You know me – I don’t like to get too magicky, so I’m looking for a solution as “quasi scientific” as possible. As usual, I’ll try to rely on unverifiable metaphysical possibilities (something that is easy for me to believe in anyway). Thanks so much for the feedback! Happy Writing. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • babbitman says:

        I’m glad we’re thinking along similar lines! And the opportunity for comedy here is immense πŸ™‚

        As for the list of possible solutions, I was going down them crossing each one out before I came up with the above idea. And here’s my reasons for not liking anything from 1-15!

        1 – damage the clothing, damage the shapeshifter; can’t have protective clothing or armour; perhaps not as warm as proper clothing.

        2 – a bit too convenient? Also, this is a bit like when Jeff Goldblum became the Fly – the shapeshifter would be merging with other matter. Eww.

        3 – no protective clothing (armour or fleecey coats or boots)

        4 & 5 – these seem just variations of 1

        6 – a bit too magicky for my liking and restricts the wearer to animal fur (and therefore a restriction on shapeshifting – very hard to wear dolphin skin or beetle carapace)

        7 & 8 – a cross between 2 & 6

        9 – sounds like a great trip, but what about the clothing? Or are they too high to care?

        10 – a version of 1

        11 & 12 – too much of a cop out, plus how would they carry the charm if they become an ant or goldfish?

        13 & 14 – eww, nudey books!

        15 – crimes against the fashion police

        πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ha ha ha. Many of my own thoughts, Nick. These ideas all are workable depending on the story, which is why I included them. They’re just not necessarily right for this one. It’s a fun challenge figuring it out and then integrating it into the “magic” of the book. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

  48. Jordan says:

    You are on a roll Diana!!
    I like options 1) and 2). Even before I read them, I thought that the shapeshifter would also be apt at transforming molecules, which would include clothing or anything material. Particles are changeable.

    Happy writing!

    Liked by 3 people

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