Anubis: Metamorphic or Man with a Jackal-headed headdress?

ImperiumSega138

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Hello again.
I am currently designing a character for my WIP called Anubis. He is Not a god but an advanced being that was worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians as one. The question I need help answering is: Do I make him Human looking with a Jackal styled headdress/helmet or do I make him a metamorphic (someone or something that can transform into another form) so that i have him human looking one minute and the next he has the head of a jackal? I was thinking that his type of metamorphosis could be named "Lycanite" (as relating to any animal related to the Canis or Dog family in the animal kingdom). What do you guys think? Because I can't decide.
 

Toby Frost

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I’m going to give my standard unhelpful answer to questions like this: you have to decide.

I don’t mean that you’re doing something wrong: it’s not so much a matter of getting things wrong as of having to make those decisions yourself. There are a couple of reasons for this: firstly, nobody knows this book as well as you do, even though it’s not written yet. Nobody has quite the same mental image as you. All other people can say is what they think would work, or would look good, but sometimes that won't be the same thing as what you want. You might have an understanding of your world that other people don’t have (especially with the technology vs magic thing), and which is hard to explain even in long posts. All you can do is write it.

Secondly, deciding what goes in and what doesn’t is an important part of writing and one that you have to get used to. It recently occurred to me that in Dune, which has Arabs In Space, there are no camels. Somewhere along the line, Frank Herbert must have decided that there would be no camels. That’s his decision – the important thing is that he stuck with it and incorporated the results of the decision properly into the story. I think this making of decisions is an important part of being an author and, basically, it’s a good habit to get into.

So all I can say is whether I think something roughly works or is so absurd that it doesn’t (in this case, both options could work). To be honest, most things in SF can work in terms of an entertaining story so it’s not as if you’re about to make a terrible mistake that will ruin everything. It’s better to be consistent (so magic or science and stick with it) but in superhero comics the answer is often very blurred anyhow. Also, and this is important, background detail and world building isn’t anywhere near as important as telling a good story. People read books for the story, not the setting. You can have a story whose setting makes no literal sense, and includes things that are obviously “wrong”, and the story still works. Dragons shouldn’t be able to fly or breathe fire. But people are happy to read about them doing both because (a) it’s entertaining and (b) they always do that. It’s consistent. There’s no real need for an explanation.

This has become a rather long post, but you see what I mean. If you have to take these decisions yourself, you end up creating something that’s better because it’s more yours. Even if the question you are asking changes from “Which of these should I write about?” to “Could this particular idea work?”, that’s a step in the right direction. I hope this helps, even if it isn't really an answer to your question.
 

ImperiumSega138

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I know what you mean Toby and I understand that but what I'm trying to gather here is intel, intel that will help me make a final decision. If I ask a bunch of people what they think might work best is the same as asking the target audience what they want, like what companies do by asking their target market what kind of food product they want/would like to buy. Once a majority has been identified the company then sets out on making it a reality...its the same here. I'm not asking what should I do but rather which would you (the target audience/market) like to see, out of two options. I have a clear idea on what both will do/be like but I'm asking the important question of asking the audience which one they would like to see/which one they prefer. I hope that makes sense and I hope it clears up any confusion about my question.

Its which one should I do, not what should I do.
 

RX-79G

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I think part of the problem with the question is that your character is either the origin story of a mythic god, or it is a person co-opting an existing god's characteristics. So you're asking the question a bit like "should Batman have a utility belt or fanny pack?", but the real question is about the overall plot, not a detail. Which type of character do you want?
 

ImperiumSega138

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He is the truth behind the myth, yes, but I'm still not 100% sure on how to approach the attribute of him being said god. I mean I don't know weather or not he should "transform" (and I use the term loosely) into the jackal-headed Anubis we all know, or perhaps he is humanoid after all and he is simply wearing a headdress/helmet that looks like a jackals head, like the ancient Egyptian embalmers used to wear to rebody Anubis when doing the ritualistic embalming of a dead pharaoh.
 

EJDeBrun

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I'm new here, but I have a question that might help you decide.

I get where you're going with this and it's a good question. I think the best way to answer it is how do you want your setting/world to function.

If the choice is between:

A) metamorphosis power of some sorts (transformation a la magical girl sailor moon! <- this is me trying to be funny)

or

B) headdress/look of other being but not actually with any magical power (sorta like Batman is part of the Justice League but he no can fly)

You gotta figure out, is magic real for this character? in a tangible way? (like harry potter: Avada Kadava! (I totally spelt that wrong)) or is his power something else? Like... see the future, mind reading, or just really really smart? (Sherlock Holmes anyone?) Or is it a combination of both? And what do you want to show for the world?

That sort of question might help sort it out for you.

I think for something like this, asking the "market" might not be the best idea because it's a very critical thing to decide since it appears to be the hallmark of the character. I get what you're asking for, but really the reader only wants a compelling character. Whatever you think will be interesting since I personally think any and all those options are good. SO LONG AS THEY ARE CONSISTENT.
 

Locrian

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Without context it's hard to say: a mask might fit better in a sci-fi setting where you are de-mystifying the mystical, shapeshifting would fit better in fantasy where you are trying to maintain that mysticism. In something like the Marvel universe I could see either being accepted. If this is purely an aesthetic choice rather than a plot point it doesn't matter and you might as well show but not tell, but it is a choice you could use to develop the atmosphere and feel of your story.
 

ImperiumSega138

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Thanks for the comments. I just wanted to say that a few of you touched on the subject that the character's aesthetics don't matter that much because its about the story and I get that but this is for my current WIP storyline which (and while it is still writing, thus still relevant to this forum) is also part of my Games Design Portfolio, so things like character aesthetics really are important, that's another reason why I'm asking. Otherwise asking about what a character should look like seems like a silly question for a book, which is ink on paper, rather than the visual representation of it on a screen. In this instance, I need to think about the character aesthetics and world building just as much as the storyline and the setting, they are all important factors for a video game. Sorry, for the misinformation on this one guys, but I'm not really writing a book as so much as writing and designing for a video game. This forum just seems like the best place to get others opinions and help on all things sci-fi, as well as the writing.
 

RX-79G

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I just wanted to say that a few of you touched on the subject that the character's aesthetics don't matter that much because its about the story and I get that but this is for my current WIP storyline which (and while it is still writing, thus still relevant to this forum) is also part of my Games Design Portfolio, so things like character aesthetics really are important, that's another reason why I'm asking.
I don't think that's what is being said at all.

How things look, why they look that way and the underlying story should be tightly connected if you are writing good fiction. If want a certain aesthetic, I strongly suggest you make your other choices match that decision so the work is cohesive.

I think, in all your posts, you are taking trying to "write" by assembling tropes on their individual merits, rather than having a story you want to write and creating characters to move the story. Anything can work, including what you're doing, but when you decide you want a speedster or a fake god and don't have any idea why you want them, I think it shows that you haven't thought about actually writing anything. It is more like you're collecting action figures and will then come up with the reason they are all being played with together.
 

ImperiumSega138

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The speedster and the fake god are separate storylines from one another but in the same shared universe. I've already written loads on how the story's are going to go, what's going to happen in them but there are still holes in each story. I haven't finished them yet, but I'm getting there, just trying to put all the pieces together so I can see the whole picture. I do know why I what them, my problem is going from the why do I want them to the how do they become them. Many of my characters have origin stories. I'm trying to fill in all the gaps there first, then moving on to what's next. But sometimes I get ideas on other things to add (there is always more to add) and I ask questions on them that sometimes I don't even know. Is that wrong?

I know its more about a good story but a good story is made from having good characters.
 

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