BEHOLD AND TREMBLE
The Mad Missourian, Ben Wheeler returns!
A tome of terror and nightmare beyond your reckoning! IT IS THE NECRONOMICON AESTHETICA . Bound in the twisted and flayed flesh of critics and penned with the blood-tear ink of underpaid and overworked artists, this book will be the end-all and be-all of entertaining fiction analysis. This is not to be an explicit guide to a paint by numbers towards something poor, generic and, Lord forgive me for saying this, derivative. This is a guide to promoting excellence of story telling, to look at, disagree with or consult like a road map where you already know the way, but you want to make sure.
Read ON brave delver of the darkest literary arts!
Scrofula’s letter did not come afterwards, and you cursed the strange man for his eccentricities. William Twist’s back is ready. Your muse begins to sing without restraint and ITUMBO OF NIGHT shifts every time the eyes blink. The blood moons rise in the symmetric courses through the stars. The villagers whisper and hone their pitchforks in lightless halls. Shadows pop out from the corners, safely hidden from your fireplaces and wall sconces, to whisper to you dark secrets and to criticize your choices.
Letters from diviners and wise-women flood in on the wings of bats and in the mouths of dogs. King Leon of the terrible vampires of Sumac demands he beta read first, before all others. Your editor begs to be spared. But you will not spare anyone. Scrofula be damned! You will begin!
Yet, of course, it is not so simple. Time travel you have as a gimmick or setting, yet how to apply it? How can you put in the strange loops and logical leaps your desire requires. The very heavens weep for the pirouettes and back flips you will have to perform to ensure that the reader never ever ever ever ever loses their suspension of disbelief.
Though, sadly, the plot doesn’t come for you yet. It doesn’t formulate into crystalline substance. You only know that it will involve wolves. And that you are fine with this. How? You don’t really know yet. Why wolves? Why anything? Your muse nods enthusiastically before slipping into your shadow, disappearing from thoughts and into your dreams. Teasing harlot! Her half-words and quarter-visions do not sustain you!
Yet wolves… How to handle them? You pace about wearing your second best Jack Kvetch Hood. Why? And how could you use them?
Wolves are, fundamentally, an organic class of villain or character. Rarely are they properly heroic, usually as a ‘companion’ capable of being understood in some way by another character, who is usually pure of heart. For example, you remember certain books your dearest female relative (which, after a certain series of shenanigans involving a vindictive, dimension hopping, reality warper and the last bagel at the local village shop, it’s gotten weird) enjoyed, the ones with the girl and the wolf on the cover. Those are different from what you want.
Werewolves, dire wolves and wolves.
Yes, those same brutal canine ancestors who brought fear to continents. How many myths and fairy tales have them as villains? How many children and grandchildren have been eaten? Can one bring them back, as some wish to bring the wolf back to the wild? Yes! Yes indeed!
The qualities of the wolf are numerous. First, they are savage, violent and easily explainable in their service to evil. The Ice Quean had frost versions of them, and they served her as loyal attack dogs. For a less directed approach, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase had them almost as environmental hazards, attacking trains and characters as often as is reasonable. The White Witch of Narnia had Maugrim, captain of her secret police and others.
Wolves are smarter than most, by their wild nature, but not so cunning as a fox. They can attack or trick as they want, but they don’t hit those heights that make it unbelievable if you want to use cunning to get by them. Separate the healer and a non-combatant member of the party? A perfect opportunity to hype up tension by sneaking around or finding some trick to slip past them. I.e. The wolf eats grandma then dresses up as her, but the disguise is kind of bad. Their cunning is one of violence and eating, rather than getting what they want or getting ahead, unlike the fox.
Their strength is another one of their great features. Whereas the fox is not strong, and while the dog can be strong, the wolf dominates them both. A dog can be an immense mastiff or hunting dog who can fight wolves, but the strength of their jaws must be equal or negative to proper wolves. Of course, this isn’t a hard rule, but the larger the wolf is, the more powerful it must be treated. This is the rule: Wolf>timber wolf>Dire Wolf> Werewolf
A human must struggle against the wolf as well. The wolf is a primal thing, of a thankfully forgotten nature. Man once huddled around campfires, and while dogs defended them, who can say when the pack strikes? Unlike Coyotes or other, smaller canines, Wolves can be brave, even in their villainy. A wolf can be craven, as anything CAN be craven, but it does not fit character as well as it would the coyote, dingo or other such wild beast. Wolves dared against man, where others rebelled against him, or joined him.
Wolves can be pack animals or independent, but mostly pack hunters. A lone wolf is a proud creature and must be stronger than your average member of the species. In Swan Knight’s Son, Gil befriends a lone red wolf with interesting ideas. He becomes important later, and may well again as he has the gift of Gil’s invulnerable hair. As a lone wolf, he fears man a little, but still goes to talk to him, and see what he can get out of it. While Gil would put up a fight, so early in his knightly career, I’d put the money on the wolf. The pack can have smaller wolves, but it cannot neglect its ferocity, and a wound done on one, is done on all.
These traits are scaled up to Dire Wolves, which seem to be more common as ‘companions’ in those stories for adolescent girls. They are less defined, and so more free to act as you desire, but in wrath they must be more terrible. Anything that is put to paper that has a nature in the minds of man, when scaled up, must have their nature scaled up. A king is best when he is the most noble his nation has to offer. So too, with Dire wolves.
Do be careful, since going immediately to the more formidable Dire Wolves is a terrible build up for conflict, especially if you plan on having real wolves running around. Build to the dire wolf so it feels like a real fight!
Werewolves are similar in nature, but all the negative traits are enhanced. They are much like vampires, but do not possess the cold, rational control a vampire should have. They should be creatures of anger and emotion. A cold, calculating werewolf is unsatisfying. Why not simply have a vampire? Are you specifically avoiding vampires? Vampires are trashy villains in this era but don’t be arbitrary like that! Being arbitrary with your villains ruins them. Own what they are. If a werewolf, why not a ghoul or some other zombie or dread spirit? If a werewolf, what do they bring to the table and why them?
Whereas werewolves are almost on the ‘fodder’ tier of literary villains with personality, they are capable of a lot of damage. Done right, they can carry a novel. After all, a powerful foe that only strikes at night and cannot be hurt apart from silver? And there are so many way to do it! You could have him make many smaller werewolves or just be one powerful example. You can have him hide in an immense tomb with all the thousands and thousands of victims or just have him found eating the corpse of some loved one. There is no control with a werewolf. All of the being a wolf without any hint of self-restraint.
Further discussion of the supernatural elements will be in the chapter about the moon.
The proper use of wolves, Dire Wolves and Werewolves are in the flavor. It is the savagery they exhibit that promotes them above their fellow animal and supernatural villains. So, you have struck with an idea. What if wolves, dire wolves and werewolves are coming in through a break in the space time continuum. What if their attacks are lead by a powerful werewolf sorcerer? Yes, your muse is dancing the dance of the seven veils, and the first one, covering her toes, has been lifted!
You can see it now! Men falling and clutching at their necks and screaming like they have been bitten, and then, the blood and flesh disappearing in chunks. only to be discovered again as, earlier wolves tore at the empty air where the ghost of a man screams and begs for help.
It forces a certain amount of mystery and thought without getting to the time-wolves too quickly. When can they attack? Who dies? Can they be stopped from their purpose, even though the attack has already happened? All great ideas to follow. All involve wolves.
One can even do Cyber-wolves, Space-wolves, sea-wolves (pirate werewolves), ghost wolves (For that Native American Flavor), moon-wolves, lava wolves (though lava sharks are more common) star-wolves and disgusting Furries. The possibilities are quite endless. Give them weight, make them a threat and set them loose, the natural order of things will be fulfilled.
Wait a minute, weren’t you just thinking about time travel? You realize you can’t remember the last two weeks. Time shenanigans? Who? How? Why? What are the rules to this? Did anything change? Something had to change!
Your muse watches as you destroy your office for no reason. You find nothing but the vague smell of hay and quartz. Why. Why are you so confused? How did life turn into this?
Time Shenanigans. It’s always time shenanigans. They ruin everything. Even wolves.