Transformations 5,018 members · 4,337 stories
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Hello, all. How is everyone? I hope you're all doing well.

The purpose of this thread is to share tips, personal preferences, and writing advice on the subject of transformation, specifically scenes which depict a transformation sequence. When writing or reading about a description of one entity transforming into another, what do you like to do or see, and what irks or annoys you? What advice do you all have for your fellow writers on making a transformation sequence interesting, well-written, and relevant to the narrative?

For example, my personal advice to my fellow writers is finding the right balance between detail and brevity. It's a hard balance to get right, but I personally find that I'm equally disinterested in transformation descriptions that are too short or that drag on for too long. I think a little detail certainly makes the scene more interesting, and I also like to focus on key parts of the form's metamorphosis. If the new form is significantly bigger or smaller than the old one, the change in size should be adressed. If the change is in species, what does the subject feel when acquiring the new attributes of their new species? If the change is in gender, I believe the subject should be able to comment on or at least be aware of the sensation of their shift.

That being said, what advice do you all have for your fellow writers of transformation?

5917493 Don't ramble. I have read so many stories that have paragraphs and paragraphs dedicated to bones breaking and skin crawling, and while I love those juicy details, they shouldn't take up five paragraphs of description when, in actual time, the subject has only changed 10 percent into their new form. I think these kinds of nitty gritty details work best when sprinkled among the other changes the subject goes through, which makes it feel like multiple things are happening all over the subject's body.

Short sentences and paragraphs can also work better at really punching home how disturbing a particular change is, like if describing a subject's neck growing longer, or a new limb growing. But yeah, just avoid rambling.

Blaze rod
Group Contributor

Do not gloss over the transformation. Mere words cannot describe how much I hate it when an unwanted and/or unexpected transformation happens and the character that is the victim of it goes "Meh, whatever."

This is a running theme and I hate it so much. God-damn seriously, something that might be permanent has happened to you, screwed up your life and future, and you're just going to gloss over it after an extremely brief panic.

The actions and the mental state of the victim should mirror this possibly life-changing event. Not feeling like themselves, anxiety, not having a control over the new, unfamiliar and probably terrifying body while your entire world and your future plans are collapsing. Panic attacks and realizations that this might be permanent and that it's now the reality you're living in. A comparable event in real life would be losing limbs, becoming blind/deaf or paralyzed.

It could be argued that mental changes are preventing the said panic, but that is only a good argument up to a point after which it becomes another can of worms I have no interest in dealing with.

Something I've always been annoyed by is a lack of knowledge in skeletal structure.
In vertebrates, unless the number of limbs is different, then the bones will often be quite similar.
Take for a bad example American werewolf in Paris
The knee snaps backwards making a new ankle while the shin becomes part of the foot, removing the old ankle. The thigh breaks in half and the break forms a new knee. At the end the number of bones and joints and where they are is the same but I think the process is ridicules.
This applies to humans and ponies as well. Think of ponies as walking around on the tips of their middle fingers and middle toes.

5917537

I can agree with this sooooo bloody much! I admit I'm guilty of it on occasion but I'll be a changeling's zebra uncle if it doesn't at least cross my mind.

Heck, two things I'm currently writing on have a guy having to deal with being sent into the future and turned into a little zebra, and the other having a person wake up as a mare.

5917643
Yeah, that American werewolf in Paris TF was actually more for the squick factor I believe. And I think that before that were simply just fade into furry abomination

Try something new at the same time as you are writing a TF story. Transformation is inherently about CHANGE and trying something new and different can help open your mind up to the possibilities offered by a character who suddenly finds themselves experiencing the world in a new way.

For example, say you're writing a story about becoming pinkie and you dont know how to cook, just open up youtube and check out some beginner baking recipes and just give it a shot.

Or say you're writing a story about becoming rainbow dash and you're wondering what its like to be an athlete who flies through the sky. Did you know you can go sky diving just about anywhere in north america for as little as a couple hundred bucks?

There are so many different ways to break yourself out of a rut and experience new things and the experience of doing so will be invaluable for writing about characters having such a drastic change happen in their own lives.

Study anatomy. Seriously. I can't emphasize this enough. If I have to read one more story where the human's fists turn into hooves...

Keep in mind that it's not really transformation if literally everything transforms. Something must remain untransformed, otherwise it's just replacement, or consumption. Generally the divide is along the lines of a mental TF, like in my story Harmonized, or a physical TF, like in Bloom Filter. Use both, and you won't have anything transformey to write about. You'll just have an ordinary pony, a situation no different than if the human had just disappeared, and they wandered into its place. Those can be worth writing about, but I don't consider them transformation related.

Don't be afraid to transform them in the way you'd like to see them transformed. It's tempting to avoid "poof" TFs because doing sort of anatomical interpolation morphing from one creature to another seems more realistic, but it's not more realistic. It's just as looney an idea as someone instantly transforming in a poof of sparkles. You can use the illusion of realism, if you want to have a transformation that's all speculative and medicalish, but never feel obligated to do so. You want people to transform by covering them with pony goo? No problem! You want them to transform by briefly glitching into static? Works fine. You want them to transform by just sort of stretching and molding them like clay? That works too. Until we actually can transform someone into something else, nobody has any right to say which method is more realistic.

Don't skimp out on the aftermath. Maybe it's just muh fetish talking, but there's so much delicious stuff to write about in the aftermath of a transformation. Don't miss out on that, by writing them transforming, and just ending the story there! Many TF fetishists are guilty of this, because they get their rocks off imagining the process of the transformation, and after it's complete they lose all interest. As with other activities, I feel that a strategy of "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" leaves the reader, and the writer feeling unfulfilled, because they missed out on the interesting stuff after the transformation happens. This happens more with visual art and comics, I guess.

The implications of a TF are high octane fuel for your story. So don't gloss them over because you want to skip to the part where you're the 7th Element of Harmony. Your story will deflate worse than the Hindenberg if you skip all the conflict because you think it's bad. Stories thrive on conflict, even if the characters don't, so remember that when you consider whether to upload horse-fu into your character's brain so you don't have to write about them having trouble.

On that note, in real life if you just plop a brain into a new body, it kind of can't move or sense anything, then dies. As long as you're doing an impossible act such as transformation, nobody has any right to complain it's unrealistic if the transformation includes language, reflexes and abilities. Leaving something for the character to struggle with is an opportunity for you as an author, not an obligation. It's your choice entirely whether you want to write about it or not.

My biggest pet peeve with TF is when the one being transformed has no emotional response to the event. "I got transformed, cool, I guess."

I see it like this. Transformation is the equivalent of killing your old body and replacing it with a new. This should bring a plethora of psychological distress signals all over the place. Phantom limb for what has been lost, raw utter confusion for the situation. Add to that the fact that most TF fics has to have the character interact with a new specie and how is your character staying sane!?

Transformation is dark. It involves replacing what makes you human into something that might not be human. For some, it also is a question of whether or not you are still you anymore. Such existential crisis should be common place in this theme, but all I keep seeing is "Wow, I am no longer remotely human or humanoid, I guess that's a normal occurrence and I will not question it because I am perfect."

Edit : The will to live is a psychological concept where people suffering from near-death experience can survive by sheer force of will. What happens if you no longer have the will to live after losing everything?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_live

5917537 Thank you! This exactly.

5917788

Spoilers don't hide links at all.

Don't skimp out on the aftermath. Maybe it's just muh fetish talking, but there's so much delicious stuff to write about in the aftermath of a transformation.

It isn't just you and "muh fetish." I don't have a transformation fetish, or not much of one, but the change is the beginning of something weird and new. There's so much to explore, and so many potential stories from that point on, that I would put transformation at the start, not the end. Most half-decent TF stories I've read do this.

In fact, early transformation fits quite well into the classic "hero's journey" story structure as the event which upsets the status quo and lights a fire under the protagonist's arse at the very beginning. Transformation also fits well where the protagonist fails and has to change (or accept change?) in order to overcome their greatest obstacle(s).

5918098 Yeah the "muh fetish" thing is just a joke. I dunno what you call an unusual fixation on a particular scenario or set of circumstances, that has little to nothing to do with sex.

Autism?

Spoilers don't hide links at all.

They make my links dark and edgy.

5917980

Oh right, I wanted to say that these kinds of stories are great, along with the stories where the transformation is harmless, painless, or welcomed. Bringing "should" into the equation is tricky, because some people do like stories where the protagonist doesn't angst too much over being turned into a cute pony. I think both have validity in the realm of TF fiction. Sometimes we want to feel glad that we haven't transformed, by describing how unpleasant it could possibly be. Sometimes we want to just imagine being transformed, and forget our inability to do so for a moment, making unpleasantness more of an detriment. Sometimes we even want to feel sad, for having the interesting things in life something only fictional characters can achieve.

5918137

I think it's still called a fetish. It doesn't have to be sexual. Some people just like getting spanked though pretty much all of my fetishes are tangled up in my sex drive.

(spoilered)

You should feel bad. :derpytongue2:

5918151
Pretty much everything is tangled up in all of our sex drives. It's also all tangled up in our hunger for food, our desire to breathe air, and also our love of dancing, and maybe even our preoccupation with vidya. Everything's tangled up with everything else, so it's easy for some Victorian era prude to make you think sex is the root cause, when it's actually only a single well connected node in a very complex web of ideas.

You should feel bad. :derpytongue2:

I feel autismal. :eeyup:

There is also another point that has not been made yet. It is one I struggle with all of the time when planning for my Pathfinder games (I know its not exactly writing but the same principle applies). It is the balance between how much and/or how little transformation to use. Eventually, as much as anyone may love something, they will get desensitized to it. And your audience is no different, being able to write (and GM) effectively is about knowing how to gauge and in many causes manipulate the emotions of your readers. And you will fail in your task if your audience comes to find anything you write as... predictable.

If you have chapter after chapter each with its own transformation, eventually people are going get bored. Even stories where transformation is extremely long term such as gradual changes from human, to anthro, to finally feral pony. Its not going to be as impactful as a few well placed transformations.

Now, of course, all of this goes out the window if your doing a vignette, or anthology style story. Or even a story that is sex for the sake of sex, where each chapter focuses on a different type of transformation. But those are exceptions and not the rule.

I hope this helps too.

5918763

I like to think of it like a wave function. When people get desensitized, the wave should fade, when they get sensitized it should crest. It's too much transformation all at once, rather than just too much transformation. Sometimes boring is good too, because for instance if you look at those stupid pay to play games, they calculate what'll keep people's interest so much that it becomes unhealthily addictive. I want my readers to be happy waiting for updates, not dying of anticipation, even if it means being a little predictable and boring.

5918144

On that point of view, sure. Having harmless TF can be fun. My only issue is that I haven't seen any good fics that tacked TF in a fun manner. If they try it, then it because somewhat of a Mary Sue fic where perfect ol' protagonist has all the powers and can learn them at will 'cause why not? I wouldn't mind being proven wrong, but this is what I see on my side.

5919387
I don't know, I've been attracted to TF TG fiction for more than ten years. And, TG mostly because it guarantees the appearance or description of naked __human__ female body parts that I'm attracted to. I try to avoid the mature stories where a character is raped or dehumanized, and I'm more interested if not curious of the (more or less) 'heated' problem the characters struggle with as they are rutting (or whatever the word is for horny needs of unusual strength) following the transformation. I think I liked the idea of CYOC stories becasue there was the possibility of escape even though no body ever bothers to write them out.

5920821

I try to avoid the mature stories where a character is raped or dehumanized

Aww, c'mon it's not that bad. Discord is just a big baby who can't hold his liquor.

I'm more interested if not curious of the (more or less) 'heated' problem the characters struggle with as they are rutting

The Canty Canadian wasn't asking for that though. He was asking for "good fics that tacked TF in a fun manner."

As for struggling with rutting, um... that's a tough one actually. The vast majority of fics with estrus are either scared to even barely mention it ("The big guy nods at me, and I feel a twinge in my stomach. At least that’s what I told myself." and never mentioning it again), or jumping into it full bore and getting the character over her inhibitions by force. I know IcarusFics does stories like that but I get kind of squicked by the author's severe mommy issues at times. Plus some of their stories are only up on pastebin of all places. "Icarus' Fable" is about getting used to being a mare in season, but I can't link to it, because pastebin.

(or whatever the word is for horny needs of unusual strength)

Rut, estrus, heat, season...must?

5921380
I just think there's something wrong with torture through ridicule, humiliation, subjugation, slavery, and general cruelty. I'm not opposed to reading about body switches leading to lost innocence or inhibitions and natural consequences.

5921810
I have no problem with ridicule and humiliation if they really fucking deserved it, and it's great if both parties are getting humiliated in one big avalanche of fail that nobody fears or tries to stop. And slavery... eh...

Honestly I think what makes that stuff terrible is the power imbalance. If you use humiliation as a tool to put yourself in a position of power over someone, the problem's not the humiliation, but the exploitive relationship, where one person gains and the other only loses. Cruelty is great, when it's not used to prove to your fragile ego that you're better than someone else. Batman left the guy to die on the crashing train saying, "I'm not going to kill you, but that doesn't mean I have to save you," and that was cruel as heck to say but it was freaky awesome because Batman was doing it in poetic justice, not as a tool to make himself more powerful.

Mmm... Batman... :twistnerd:

body switches leading to lost innocence or inhibitions and natural consequences.

Oh, there was one of the fics where the guy swapped with Lyra that had estrus... but did it just wimpily allude to a mare's season before changing him back and having no problem, or did it actually put her through a cycle? I forget exactly... was years ago.

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