The Science of Shifters

on May 29, 2014 by Poppy Dennison

Based on the title of this post, you might be thinking I’m smart or something. I’m not. Well, not where science is concerned. Or physics. Or whatever science would be involved to allow a person to shapeshift. Does such a science exist? Anyhoo, I’m not smart in those areas. I have been called a smart ass a time or two, but that’s another post. *g*

No, today I want to talk to you about the science of shifters. There seem to be two different mind sets among authors on how shifters work. One is through magic. Shifting just happens. The other gets into the physics of it. Mass must equal mass. Or something like that? Clearly, I’m of the first mind. But I think looking at the possibilities of the science isn’t a bad exercise, so I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts today and see what you guys think.

I mean, yeah. I get it. If you have a 200 pound man, then he should turn into a 200 pound wolf. Right? Good gravy, how big would a 200 pound wolf be?? *ponders* *googles* According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the largest wolf they’ve found was in 1939 and he weighed 175 pounds. Huh. How about that? It would work for that science theory. A man that size is reasonable. Not the size of your typical romance novel hero, but it could work.

But, if most wolves only weigh between 100-130 pounds, then that would be a small guy. If you’re doing the science. Which I don’t. And this is part of the reason. (As a side note, don’t google “large wolves”. If you’re a wolf lover like me, you won’t like the images that pop up.)

One of the things that happens when you read fiction is the suspension of belief. It happens when you’re watching movies too. I mean, do you really think that Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible could explode from a helicopter and land on a moving train without going splat? Nope. Don’t think so. But I’m willing to believe it for a little while and read the little disclaimers at the end that say things like “don’t try this at home”. (And as another side note, isn’t it sad that they have to add those disclaimers?)

When you’re willing to let the author play, a man and wolf being the same size when they shift forms isn’t as big of a deal. If the author does their job, you don’t really think about it. You’re too lost in the adventure of it all. Other things are more important, like that love interest he’s got to win over with his wolf wiles. (Heh. Wolf wiles. For those of you who know my fondness for alliteration, I think I just found a title for a new book. )

I don’t want my readers stopping to think about specific weights and sizes. In the Pack Partners series, Dan, the pack beta, is the same size as the pack alpha. This probably wouldn’t happen in nature, right? But we can allow it to happen in this book because part of Dan’s struggle is accepting that he wasn’t chosen as the alpha. If Lex were a whole lot bigger than Dan, it wouldn’t work as part of his character’s conflict. It would be obvious why Lex was the alpha.

But what about you? Do you need for the science to work in your shifter books? Does it need to be technical and logical, or do you just want the magic of it? Let me know what you think!

Belligerent Beta

Publisher: Wilde City Press
Release Date: May 14, 2014

When a human is chosen to lead the pack instead of him, Beta Dan Keller struggles to find his footing in a rapidly changing environment. Committed to his pack and not one to turn away from a challenge, Dan follows his Alpha’s request and works with Nathan Ross, the new pack Omega. Though he is initially concerned that Nathan’s weakness will harm the pack, Dan learns there is more to the shy wolf than meets the eye.

As Dan struggles to balance his growing feelings for the young wolf with his responsibilities to his pack, new threats emerge and Nathan’s loyalty is questioned. Not understanding the basics of being a wolf leaves Nathan vulnerable and the pack at risk. Can Dan embrace the true role of a beta so he can protect the man he has grown to love and save his pack?

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About Poppy Dennison

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

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Based on the title of this post, you might be thinking I’m smart or something. I’m not. Well, not where science is concerned. Or physics. Or whatever science would be involved to allow a person to shapeshift. Does such a science exist? Anyhoo, I’m not smart in those areas. I have been called a smart ass a time or two, but that’s another post. *g*

No, today I want to talk to you about the science of shifters. There seem to be two different mind sets among authors on how shifters work. One is through magic. Shifting just happens. The other gets into the physics of it. Mass must equal mass. Or something like that? Clearly, I’m of the first mind. But I think looking at the possibilities of the science isn’t a bad exercise, so I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts today and see what you guys think.

I mean, yeah. I get it. If you have a 200 pound man, then he should turn into a 200 pound wolf. Right? Good gravy, how big would a 200 pound wolf be?? *ponders* *googles* According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the largest wolf they’ve found was in 1939 and he weighed 175 pounds. Huh. How about that? It would work for that science theory. A man that size is reasonable. Not the size of your typical romance novel hero, but it could work.

But, if most wolves only weigh between 100-130 pounds, then that would be a small guy. If you’re doing the science. Which I don’t. And this is part of the reason. (As a side note, don’t google “large wolves”. If you’re a wolf lover like me, you won’t like the images that pop up.)

One of the things that happens when you read fiction is the suspension of belief. It happens when you’re watching movies too. I mean, do you really think that Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible could explode from a helicopter and land on a moving train without going splat? Nope. Don’t think so. But I’m willing to believe it for a little while and read the little disclaimers at the end that say things like “don’t try this at home”. (And as another side note, isn’t it sad that they have to add those disclaimers?)

When you’re willing to let the author play, a man and wolf being the same size when they shift forms isn’t as big of a deal. If the author does their job, you don’t really think about it. You’re too lost in the adventure of it all. Other things are more important, like that love interest he’s got to win over with his wolf wiles. (Heh. Wolf wiles. For those of you who know my fondness for alliteration, I think I just found a title for a new book. )

I don’t want my readers stopping to think about specific weights and sizes. In the Pack Partners series, Dan, the pack beta, is the same size as the pack alpha. This probably wouldn’t happen in nature, right? But we can allow it to happen in this book because part of Dan’s struggle is accepting that he wasn’t chosen as the alpha. If Lex were a whole lot bigger than Dan, it wouldn’t work as part of his character’s conflict. It would be obvious why Lex was the alpha.

But what about you? Do you need for the science to work in your shifter books? Does it need to be technical and logical, or do you just want the magic of it? Let me know what you think!


Belligerent Beta

Publisher: Wilde City Press
Release Date: May 14, 2014

When a human is chosen to lead the pack instead of him, Beta Dan Keller struggles to find his footing in a rapidly changing environment. Committed to his pack and not one to turn away from a challenge, Dan follows his Alpha’s request and works with Nathan Ross, the new pack Omega. Though he is initially concerned that Nathan’s weakness will harm the pack, Dan learns there is more to the shy wolf than meets the eye.

As Dan struggles to balance his growing feelings for the young wolf with his responsibilities to his pack, new threats emerge and Nathan’s loyalty is questioned. Not understanding the basics of being a wolf leaves Nathan vulnerable and the pack at risk. Can Dan embrace the true role of a beta so he can protect the man he has grown to love and save his pack?


Find Belligerent Beta:


About Poppy Dennison

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.


Find Poppy Dennison:


2 Comments

  1. Weeeellll – since Alpha wolves don’t really exist in nature, I don’t think the size of the Alpha and Beta really matters. But that’s not what this subject is about. The laws of the werewolf pack in romance don’t follow natural wolf family laws – and that’s OK.

    It’s all about being consistent. Even a magical explanation may have a “science of magic” behind it – certain rules you can’t break, certain things that need to be taken into account. Mass is often one of those considerations. (I have a pooka shifter who takes multiple forms and he tries to explain to his love where he puts the extra mass when it’s something small and why that’s so difficult.)

    All magical systems require consistency to be believable. The more detailed the system, the more we, as readers, tend to buy into it. So when you bring mass into the equation for shifters, and deal with it in a consistent way, our suspension of disbelief is that much stronger. (Love this pic of Poppy, by the way 🙂 )

    • Poppy says:

      Thank you Angel! And I agree. Consistency is key. You can “sell” anything if you have thought it through and make rules you have to follow.

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