Some helpful hints for Transformation writers
As a fan and novice transformation writer, I like to step back and really look at works I, or a friend have written and look a the closer detail of things (you could call it nitpicking in a way). But I also like to throw tips, tricks, what-to-do's and what-not-to-do's around in a critical way that's also constructive; One thing you want to do in transformation writing is include lots of detail right?
Wrong! But hear me out!
Yes, describe the setting, the transformation, the trigger and the character in detail. However, impertinent elements, such as how far the person walked down the lane, or the color if the neighbors bike, do not need to be thrown in. It's all about how much detail you use and where. Don't pour it all out at the transformation itself and skimp on the exposition, character or the aftermath.
Since the transformation is happening to a conscious being (duh), they will obviously sense it with all their senses, sight, hearing, feeling, and occasionally, tasting or smelling the shift.
Sometimes format is also something to remember. Walls of text are good things to avoid as well as the opposite (highly frequent one-three sentence paragraphs). You can’t ignore plot either. Include a story with the transformation; that includes an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and a resolution.
Moreover, characters need love too. Let’s use a character of mine who isn't a shape shifter; eeny-meeny-miney-Aaron! I'll describe him twice, once in detail, the other, not so much. You should clearly see which one puts you in front of that character.
Dust and dirt were common themes when it came to Aaron. His blond hair, raggedy shirt, and baggy burlap pants harbored enough that it never seemed to wash out, not that Aaron has seen a bath in a long while. Several cuts a long his hands from the time spent in the kitchen only heal to be reopened. His bare feet are dry and cracked. But despite his physical state, Aaron keeps his head held high. And his power to move things with his mind is always there when he needs it.
Now for a skimpier description.
Aaron’s dirty clothes and cuts are tough on him. But he never let's them stand in his way, not when he has his psychokinesis with him.
Okay, the second description had a big and fancy word in it. But which one really painted a picture of him in your mind? I'll bet the first one did. The same applies to setting and, the star if tf stories themselves, the transformation!
Let’s use Aaron again, but this time, we'll use his house as a setting example. His place is fairly small, for as you might've guessed (or not), Aaron is quite poor.
Just as Aaron is quite dirty, his house shares the trait. A small brown clay hut, no taller than a head or two above him, and wide enough to hold a small brick stove, which doubles a furnace, and a two person chair, which is also his bed. When it rains Aaron must put a tarp on the roof, or he risks it being eroded away.
Now for take two.
Aaron lives in a small dirt hut with only a stove and chair to greet him. The stove also keeps him warm. But his roof is sensitive to rain.
As you can see, the first one goes more in depth with his home as opposed to the second one. The detail is in the right place (or simply present).
Now for the part most all transformation writers (myself included), skip right to and dump all the detail into, the transformation. The key here is to get the reader to feel, hear, see, and maybe even smell or taste the changes! The more of the 5 senses you include, the better, but not all aren’t always necessary. Like I said earlier, if you get to technical and put the detail in the wrong place, or just leave it out all together, the reader will get bored and move on to a different story. This is also where many clichés come in. Try to come up with an original trigger, not something like "Boy drinks bizarre liquid and turns into an anthro fox." and have a variety of reactions in your stories; what if the transformee isn't writhing in pain, but is more confused as the changes progress? What if some parts tickle? How about some feeling good, or just overall, strange? How about sad? Angry? Jubilant even! People get tired of seeing someone going through something that could rip them apart and have all the screaming and yelling going on, all to have the person suddenly say, "wow, this is awesome!"
A common thing in furry writing is Male-Female tg as well as the transformation. I tend to lean away from this due to sexual connotations, but I’m not saying a little pleasure is bad every once in a while and it is, after all, one of the reactions I mentioned above. Seek out the rarer Female-Male transgender sequences and try them out for a spin if you must. Variety is your best tool; use it wisely.
Now for a challenge;, Take the examples of aspects provided above, and write (or rewrite) a section of a tf you’ve written, perhaps an older one, one that you look at and your eyes barf out rainbows! Copy and paste it into one document; then paste it into a second and edit that one until you think it’s better. Use these as you examples for this topic.
Inconsistency is another thing that will bite you in the butt. If a character has blue eyes, in the beginning, make sure they stay blue unless the transformation changes that as well as skin color, hair style and other personality aspects that should be static to the character themselves.
And, if you took my advice, here, you should be asking how Aaron could work in a kitchen if he’s so dirty! I left it out that he does keep clean enough when he goes to work at his job. He also is required to wear a hairnet.
Now, more on the topic of transformation variety. Mostly, a sequence will end with the head. Try to have a different order for things to take over. Maybe have it start in the middle and spread outward? How about from the head down? Outside in (tips of finger and toes first, than making its way to the center such as the chest)? Inside out? Alternatively, you could have their insides go first.
Now what about duration? Most of them happen in less than a minute, and due the speed could easily rip the person to shreds. Maybe span it out longer, a progression so to speak. Of have it happen lighting fast (most people use the ‘poof’ method for this.). Maybe the subject is unconscious. Or maybe the subject isn’t even human! Instead of human-dragon, swap it out! Have a dragon character turn human.
Whew…that was a lot of writing. I hope you have picked up from this piece. It’s simply my two cents on transformation writing or writing in general. Note that I am no pro here; I could've just waisted your time, my time and the valueable memory this document takes up on my hard drive...or not. :3
Now go cause some chaos and change some species!