Writing Weres and Shifters

During the “Second Nature: Werewolves and Shifters in Urban Fantasy” panel at the Westin, Saturday 11:30AM, Faith Hunter, Linda Robertson, Samantha Sommersby, Jeanne C. Stein, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro discussed what it takes to write some of the hottest supernatural creatures on the market.

The appeal of writing shifters and weres is in the challenges. They are both human and not human. We all have a little wild and unique side to us and that side gets to come out and play in the weres.

What comes first, the story or the shifter? Sommersby said she always writes the character first and then the plot evolves. For Yarbro, when most of her characters emerge they bring with them really important information. Robertson, however, created the character of Johnny while at an airport eating a Po’ Boy.

Mythology abounds with weres and shifters, but how much research goes into writing these creatures? Hunter started studying skinwalkers when she found out about her Native American ancestry. Yarbro read folklore, myths, and legends. Sommersby researched both the pack behavior of red wolves and folklore.

When asked about how to keep the content fresh after writing several books and with all the competition in the genre, Stein said that she does it by creating and following the rules in her universes. Robertson said that it’s her characters that make the stories unique and different.

The overall conclusion of the panel is that it takes a delicate balance between research, rules, characters, and creativity to successfully write shifters and weres.

Author of the article

Not everyone can say they watch television for homework, read novels for inspiration, and are paid to follow what’s trending. For Alicia Pack, it is all part of life as a writer and media enthusiast.  When she isn't lost in the world she is trying to create, you can find her with her nose in a book or catching up on her favorite supernatural shows.  She has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film.  Her nine years of diverse media experience include news writing, copywriting, website content management, social media, promotions, television production, and teaching.