So, how does someone get to be a shapeshifter?
There are two main ways, from what I see. The character can be born into the particular shape shifter species – having some kind of different genetic profile than humans do – or is made into shape shifter by some event, often traumatic. Think of the radioactive spider bite in Spiderman, or a vampire pausing for a snack on the heroine’s neck.
This is really a question about pre-destination. How much of someone’s life and circumstances is pre-destined or arranged in advance? How much do each of us choose? Is it different for shape shifter characters? Should it be?
My dragon shape shifters are born Pyr – they are a distinct species from humans – but because one parent of each Pyr child is human, the children are indistinguishable from humans until puberty. They come into their powers then, when they come into their adulthood.
I thought that would be simpler than having – quite literally – little monsters around the house! On the other hand, there is something scary about the idea of teenagers with more powers than most – and yes, we will be having some fun with that in the Dragonfire series.
What about good and evil? Are shape shifters born with a predilection for being a good guy, or for being bad guy? Or do they choose which team to play on? In Dragonfire, the Pyr have a saying that Pyr are born and Slayers are made. They’re all born dragon shape shifters, but the bad guys have chosen to turn to evil.
That choice in the Dragonfire world-building echoes my own view of people – I don’t think that anyone is born evil. Their lives might compel them in a dark direction, but ultimately they make a choice to follow that path – or not. There are countless human stories of people who had tremendous odds stacked against them (and very bad luck besides) who refused to become wicked. I like the idea of the human spirit overcoming adversity, and of people having the strength to confront obstacles, even the ones that appear to be insurmountable.
Of course, you have to guess that in my worldview, love plays a big part in giving people the strength to make those choices!
So, what do you think? How much is bred in the bone? How much of a shape shifter’s life and choices are made in advance of his birth, and how many decisions should he get to make for himself?
What about people? Do you think we have the power to choose good over evil, and chart our own path, or is it all decided for us in advance?