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. 🙂

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. 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 ritual 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. 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 that 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!

My bossy muse returns

The muse’s latest look (all images from pixabay)

My muse and I have a love/hate relationship. She’s a shapeshifter, and she isn’t known for her sweetness or patience, so I’m not sure what to expect when I open my writing room door.

I know she’s there because of the howler monkey roaring at me from the banister of the outside staircase (and I don’t live near a jungle). “Shoo, shoo,” I order, flapping a hand. I slip past and shut the door before the beast tries to bite or groom me.

A glaive

The muse is sitting on my futon, flipping a knife, a pistol-thing in a holster at her hip. Against the wall rests a double-bladed glaive that looks like it could take my head off, maybe twice. My instincts tell me to take my chances with the monkey.

“How’s the book coming?” She arches an eyebrow. Sarcasm leaches from her pores.

I lean on the door, arms crossed. “I had a hectic summer.”

She puts her boots up on my coffee table. The knife spins above her head, and she grabs it out of the air before it stabs her. “I’ll give you a pass… this time. But I want some progress. You’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year – 50,000 words by the end of November.”

I wrinkle my nose into my “stinky-smell” face while panic flutters in my chest like a caged sparrow. “You realize that November is tomorrow. I haven’t prepped. I haven’t even signed up. I barely have an outline. And need I remind you, NaNo is a ton of work!”

“So, get over it.” She practically rolls her eyes. “You’re a writer. Writing is a ton of work.”

“I know, but I’m having trouble even envisioning this story. Your suggestion of goblins and shapeshifters isn’t clicking. It’s not my thing.”

“Trust me.” She gives me a sly grin full of evil, musey intent.

“Can I fire you?” I ask, only half-joking.

She ignores me and sheaths her knife. “I want you to add elves to the mix.”

“Elves?” Now she’s struck a nerve. I pretend to gag. “That’s your solution? Ugh. I don’t even like elves. Their too Tolkien, too… elfish. I love Tolkien, but… ugh. I’d feel like I’m writing a spin-off. Ugh, yuck.”

My muse sighs at my immaturity. “You don’t write spin-offs.”

I still can’t get the elf-taste off my tongue, but since that sounded like a compliment of sorts, I cease gagging and plop down beside her. “Thank you, but elves?”

“What do you have against elves?” She tucks a lock of hair behind her pointed ear, and I groan. “It’s not like I’m insisting on dwarves.”

“Dwarves? As in Thorin and Balin, or gnomes with red hats? Even worse! Thank you for not ruining my life. Elves are bad enough. Yeesh.” I’m starting to feel incredibly cranky under all this pressure. “And what’s with the gun thing? I don’t write guns either.”

“It’s a pulser.” She pulls it from her holster and rests it on the table. “I’ll leave it to you to figure out how it works as well as its limitations. I want you to stretch, Peach. Write something different, something challenging.”

I slouch and put on my grumpy face. “Shapeshifters, goblins, and elves, oh my.”

She smirks and gives my shoulder a hearty shake before rising to her feet and grabbing her glaive. “Once you get started, I’ll help. It’s my job.” She opens the door, and the howler jumps into her arms.

While she clomps down the stairs, I stand at the banister outside my door. Through the dense trees, dawn’s thin light is green and liquid. The monkey barks at me from my muse’s arms, and another annoying thought pops into my head. I have to ask. “And I suppose one of the settings is a jungle? You know I’ve never lived in a jungle.”

“That’s called research,” she yells and glances at me over her shoulder, wicked half-smile curling her lips. “Have fun.”

She fades into the forest. I shut the door, open my laptop, and google NaNoWriMo. Ready or not, time to sign up.

***

My blogging time will be a bit sparse this month. But I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve too. Elves? Really? Happy Writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nano-Newbie Reports In

Nano Final

 

Well, thank goodness November is over. I just entered my final word count for the month: 61,552 words, about 3/4 of my first draft.

Am I happy? I think so. My brain is numb.

As a newbie to the NaNoWriMo adventure, I didn’t know what to expect. I approached it like I tackle most things in life…jump in with both feet, paddle like mad, and discover I’ve learned to swim by not drowning. I’m panting on the muddy bank after reaching the shore.

What I learned:

1. On the whole, this is an exhausting great experience, and I wouldn’t have written a fraction of these words without the challenge.

2. Preparing the family is key. I think I vacuumed once, did laundry once, and made scrambled eggs for breakfast…once.

3. Love up the spouse/partner – you’re going to owe him or her big-time at the end.

4. Let personal hygiene go. There’s no time for anything beyond brushing one’s teeth.

5. Install a pet door. The critters can walk themselves.

6. Cancel all outside commitments. Invite yourself to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving. Offer to bring cranberry sauce.

7. Give up on all television except The Walking Dead.

8. Prepare and preschedule blog posts, apologize in advance for your absence, thank everyone in the end for still being there.

9. Get the flu. It relieves you of every single remaining responsibility you weren’t able to shirk in good conscience. You get to write in bed all day and everyone feels sorry for you and brings you tea. (Note flu onset 11/14 on graph).

What else I learned:

1. I am a slow slow edit-as-I-go writer (ave. 250 wph). I didn’t enjoy feeling rushed, and writing for me has always been a luxurious experience. If I dedicate another crazy November to Nanowrimo, I don’t think I’ll pay much attention to word count. Why?

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square2. Because dedicating time to writing, prioritizing creativity and engaging in what we love to do is the point.

3. Participating and writing one word more than we would have otherwise constitutes a true win in my universe. Congrats to all the participants regardless how much you wrote. You are all winners!

Thank you for hanging in there with me.

Aaaah. Back to blogging.

thank you

Happy NaNoWriMo

witch

I’m thousands of feet in the air as you read this, or I’m on the 4-hour drive from the Utah airport to my folks place in the high desert of Colorado. My parents don’t have internet, and even if they did, my time isn’t likely to be my own.

NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday, and I’ll spend my private nighttime minutes on a cot behind the sofa, cranking out a smattering of paragraphs. I expect a slow start and will make up the time when I return. For me, it’s better to just accept it, take a deep breath, and let the week unfold.

The point of this post is to graciously advise my friends in blog-land that my November presence will be intermittent.  I’ve preplanned posts for once a week. My reward for achieving my word-count goals will be some luxurious browsing of your blogs, but I know I’m going to miss many wonderful posts. For that, I pre-apologize and send everyone gigantic virtual hugs.

Oh, And Happy Halloween! Some pics that still make me laugh.

My daughter at age 2. Mother of the Overlord.

My daughter at age 2. Mother of the Overlord. She dressed herself and walked in to show me.

The Overlord as Yoda. (Wearing a costume for a dog). Ha ha!

The Overlord as Yoda. (In a costume for a dog). Ha ha! The woman behind him had blue clown hair 30 yrs ago.

I have turned off comments for this post.
Have a wonderful weekend!