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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Story concept - need advice - both genders please

   
Author Topic: Story concept - need advice - both genders please
rcmann
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Setup:

Young married couple, deeply in love. One night she gets caught out after dark and attacked. Her husband finds her in time to drive off the beast and takes her home. She recovers. Next full moon she transforms and breaks out to roam the forest nearby.

FYI, magic is not commonplace in this setting, but not unknown. Mainly traditional witchcraft based, powered through supernatural intercession and herbal potions. There is no witch available in the area to help out. It's the first werewolf in the area in years.

Plot Idea:

They are still deeply in love. However, when in werewolf form, the young woman seems compelled to find and mate with the male werewolf that originally changed her.

(BTW, I would be perfectly willing to reverse the genders, and have the husband be the werewolf. It would work either way. But that's another point I desire feedback on. Would it work the *same* way with either gender?)

When the woman returns to human, she has no memory of the night before. When informed of what she did (witnesses, or physical evidence maybe) she freaks out. Husband tries to track other werewolf, no luck. Recruits help, still no luck.

Next full moon same thing happens. She breaks out of the shed where she was confined. And the next as well... but this time husband goes out after her in the night.


Questions:

1) What's wrong with this concept and how can I improve it?

2) I can't decide whether to have the husband get eaten, or both werewolves to get silver-ized, or just have the bad werewolf bite it.... so to speak (sorry). I could put together interesting endings out of any of the three.

3) How would the woman actually react, ladies?

4) Guys, how would you react?

5) Mainly, could this actually be made to work as a short? Or would it require at least a novella?

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Daniel_W
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There's nothing wrong with the idea itself, but I think the problem is that most of it has been done already. The idea of having no memory of the night before is pretty standard werewolf stuff, the young couple in love is almost archetypal, and the thing about tracking down the one who bit you was recenty covered in the UK by the TV series 'Being Human' (for example).

The unique twist you have here is the thing about being compelled to mate with the one who changed you - that's what I'd suggest you build on. (I think that her being married is just a complication, and I'd be tempted to leave it altogether. It might provide more plot fodder if she were single, too; the complication of meeting someone, falling in love with them, and having to fight this compulsion too).

Just my opinion [Smile] .
Daniel.

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rcmann
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Well, the not being able to recall the night before goes back at least as far as the original "Dark Shadow" tv series, and probably farther. Tracking down the one who bit you is at least as old. It's all pretty much SOP for werewolf stories, I thought.

Getting rid of the husband? It's a possibility. I put him in because I didn't want to end up essentially re-doing the plot from anything else. I'm not sure about mating, but being driven to seek out other werewolves after being bitten is another common trope.

Starts to look like not such a good idea.

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Treamayne
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Are your werewolves wholly animalistic Does any of the human intellect remain? Are your werewolves a "wolfman" form, or more dire wolf form? Id the mating compulsion based on a supernatural element of being a werewolf, or are you deriving it from the hybrid wolf nature?

if that last question is answered by wolf nature, then I would suggest some mild research into wolf mating. Generally, the female does not seek out a male for mating. The alpha male of a pack will mate with the alpha female when she comes into heat. If there is contention the Alpha and Beta males may fight for the right to mate.

From a scientific standpoint (in this last case) it would make more sense if the genders were reversed - the Male, when transformed feels a pack compulsion to seek out his own kind (since wolves are pack animals) and when finding his own kind may feel a compulsion to fight for the right to mate.

http://www.wolfcountry.net/information/WolfReproduction.html

I think there is potential here. I also think that you could heighten the tension by changing some of the tropes. Why does the bitten need to forget what happened while transformed? What if the wife (husband) is fully aware of what's happening while transformed - btu the wolf instinct is too strong. Though they will remember what happened while transformed because they don't lose awareness - when they are transformed the wolf instinct is too strong to ignore. "Why would I not run and hunt with the pack? Why would I not mate if I won the dominance challange. This is right and natural."

So, when human again, they have the memory of how right and natural the actions felt, even if their human morality makes them ashamed or feel guilty. how do you fight overwhelming instinct? Especially if when transformed you don't "want" to fight that instinct. How do you tell your neighbor that you dismemberd the chihuahua because it tried to nip you while you were transformed and instinct made you fight back?

I hope my rambling makes some sort of sense and I hope it helps.

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annepin
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My suggestion: rather than thinking about gender, think about the characters themselves. Who are these people? Sure, there are some inherent biases, assumptions, and judgements we make on people based on sex, but really, it's just a part of who they are. Depending on their personalities, motivations, and histories, you could evoke a number of different responses.

This could also help with one of the issues that others have brought up, which is that werewolf stories have been done a lot. I think that finding a fresh angle relies on drilling down and figuring out who the characters are. You could describe a plot, but it would have a very different effect depending on who the characters are. THink about Romeo and Juliet. The plot--two people meet and fall in love but are prevented from being together--has been redone over and over again. But the story becomes new with the telling becuase of the characters.

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rcmann
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Thanks everyone. These suggestions are triggering possibilities. Anyone else, please feel free.
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Josephine Kait
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A couple of thoughts:

1) I remember the story of a particular wolf pack (one of the reintroduced ones that were carefully monitored). The alpha male was the clearly dominant personality, but the most dominant female was not the mate he chose. The smallest and weakest was also the sweetest and the one who instigated play. They referred to her as an Omega because of her near outcast status in the pack. Once the Alpha had chosen her to be his mate however, she became the Alpha female. It is possible that in other packs the Alpha female may be more dominant than any of the males, and therefore her choice of mate would designate the Alpha male, but I don’t know for sure.

2) As for the human side of things, I would say that it largely depends on the character of the husband, and the wolf. In your posited scenario you have one female and two males, leading to the “choice” (such as it is) between the two males. Is the husband a good man? Is he good to/for her? What about the wolf, did he mean to turn her? Did he choose her specifically? Did he know that she was married? What about the circumstances of his own turning? The answers to these questions will lead your readers to decide who they want her to end up with.

If the answer is her husband, then a great ending would be for her to Change her husband, that way the sexual link would be between the two of them. If this is the case then the other wolf has to die, one way or another. Killing him to try to free her, but it doesn’t work so her husband wants her to change him too… way too cliché. Her killing him to be free, or to protect her husband, or to protect some other innocent… empowering. The couple fighting together to kill him, to protect each other… romantic.

If the answer is the wolf, then the villainy of the husband needs to be well established by the end. The conflict is then much more internal within the girl. She’ll need to fight to want to be free of him (she chose to marry him in the first place after all), as much as she will need to actually fight him to be free. In this scenario the husband doesn’t have to actually die to be defeated, but his influence has to be fully negated. The husband largely poses the threat of exposure, this changes the nature of the conflict and evens the odds a bit against two werewolves. Having him committed as insane would largely negate this threat, as would his imprisonment for, say, attempting to kill her. And of course his death would end the threat as well, but I find that an unsavory conclusion for this particular conflict.

Of course there is also the “E: None of the Above” option, meaning she doesn’t end up with either of them. It could end tragically with both of the males dying, and her crying over one or both of the shredded bodies. But she could also turn out to be the greatest monster of all of them. Or she could be the one that dies, with one or the other of them successfully fixing the (legal) blame on the other. An interesting twist to that would be the question of if the correct one got the blame. Her suiciding to remove herself from the equation is a weak ending. But as long as all three live free, there is no resolution.

3) I really liked what Treamayne had to say, especially about allowing memory retention and instinct. Humans also make choices based on instinct; they are simply different from animal instincts. Every time a detective “goes with his gut,” or someone makes a choice because “it just feels right,” that is instinct. Switching between two sets of instincts would be jarring, but perhaps that is only for the new werewolves, and as they acclimate the two sets blend? Interesting.

Best of luck with your project,
-JK

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