Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS

Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS I'm all moved into my new townhouse! Now that I'm settled, I'm going to try to update this blog more often. I want to share more of my writing with you guys, so with that in mind, today's post is all about the project I'm working on now. Enjoy!

When I started writing my WIP Reflections, I knew I wanted it to include shapeshifters. I'd never written urban fantasy before, so I was looking forward to including a little bit of magic. I haven’t read many stories about shapeshifters, and they’ve always fascinated me. I couldn’t wait to get started. Of course, I knew next to nothing about what my shapeshifters would be like. I didn’t think that mattered and started writing, anyway.

Soon, I hit a wall. I got to my first big shapeshifter scene and realized I had no idea how any of it worked. For me, a great deal of writer’s block comes from not knowing where to go next, so I had a massive problem on my hands. I needed to correct it or I’d never get any more work done on the project.

As nervous as I was about moving forward—I had no idea how to develop any kind of mythology!—I was certain I could do it. And anyway, I had to.

So I got to work. When developing a mythology, like worldbuilding, I figured I needed to come with answers to a few crucial questions. After half an hour of brainstorming to determine what I needed to know, here’s what I came up with:

  • Who/what created the shapeshifters?
  • How did they get their power originally?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of their abilities?
  • If their power isn’t endless, what motivates it? Do they have a personal power source?
  • Does each individual have unique abilities or distinctive traits, or is everything uniform?
  • What is their “kryptonite”?

These weren’t all of the questions I came up with, but they did form the framework for the introspection I had to do to move forward. I took about another hour to think through each question, jotting down every thought I had without censoring myself. When I was finished, I had some answers. Here are some of them:

  • Someone traded his or her fertility for the ability to shapeshift—this is also how a shifter can become a tribe leader
  • It comes from gemstones that have been imbued with power by other shifters
  • Shapeshifters (well, mine, anyway) can only shift into the guise of another human, and they can’t pick and choose what to change. For example, if you’re a shifter and you want someone’s nose, you have to also take on the form of their whole body
  • Each shifter’s power is store in their crystal, which must periodically be “topped off” by a tribe leader
  • Each shifter has a specialty, and some are more adept at shifting than others. Each shifter also has a unique gemstone that can only be used by them
  • A shifter’s true form is revealed in their reflections, shadows, and photographs. Shifts can also be broken by extreme emotion

Once I put all of this information together, I had a solid foundation to work from. In addition, I had my own unique “brand” of shapeshifter—and I knew the basis for almost every character in the novel. The feeling was incredible. I could now move forward with my writing.

Since then, I’ve hit a couple different snags, but none related to this mythology I set up. I might talk about some issues I’m facing in my next post because I think that some of you might be able to help me solve them. For now, though, I’m content with the progress I’m making.

While writing this novel, I've definitely had to focus more on planning and worldbuilding than usual. That's one of my favorite things about writing, though--the more you do it, the more you learn. No wonder I keep going. :)

How do you create a mythology? What are your tips for worldbuilding?

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What's your worldbuilding process like? Author @brianawrites shares her process for her novel #Reflections. (Click to tweet)