Bonus That was scary wasn’t it? Poor zebra, but at the same time it is nature. We are simply observers. As part of my research into werewolves I have been reading a book called Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez. It is helping me get a grasp on how these beautiful creatures live and hunt and thrive, not simply survive; thrive out there in the wilds we can only visit for imperceptible amounts of time in our lives. While writing this post I just realized I already have written in some part how wolves live. In Red’s War, the modern day reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood from the perspective of the Huntsman.
On day sixty-seven since the arrival of the Beast of Lozére, Jackie “The Huntsman” Red took a short break from hunting. He didn’t admit it to himself, but deep down he was discouraged by how the day was going. He’d only seen two wolves drinking at Lac de Villefort- he was watching them through his rifle scope from fifty meters away, lying across an outcropping of boulders on the hill. They were both greyish with a black streak running across their backs. Blood crusted their jowls but it was from a rabbit the larger one had killed. The carcass was mostly just a spinal column, half buried under the roots of a tree on the shore.
He sighed, stood up, and brushed himself off. The wolves heard him and stiffened with their snouts submerged in the lake. Their ears were lying flat and curled at the head and their tails were perfectly parallel to the ground. They were afraid of something and that had been clear since he came upon them- the agitation only grew with each passing minute. Slowly, the smaller one lifted its head and backed away from the water, going to the rabbit carcass and carrying it away. The larger one drank quickly and loped after its mate.
This scene is very… medical. It is simply a hunter watching creatures he knows are the wrong targets. When he finds the real target things change. Read it from the STORIES section above. The wolves are animals. They have their own emotions and individuality but this is simply setting the scene to bigger things to come. I do not need to go into further detail.
Now here is the scene from Ruby Caves:
Across the parking lot, the street lamp popped on again. It distracted Michael enough to look over. A white tail deer was standing on its hind legs at the entrance. Its hooves kicked up ice in a little tap dance. “Aww,” Mom said. Michael was in awe, but seeing a deer on two legs sent goosebumps through his body. “Wait… do you see its face?”
Doc began barking at the deer. He pulled at the leash, hopping into the air.
Michael squinted. The deer’s tiny face was soaked in blood. Both eyes flashed green. It turned to the forest, falling on all fours, and Mom gasped. The deer’s body was opened up and leaking blood all over snow. A small organ fell to the ground. It screamed like a human man. It bounded up and down, stomping the organ. “Damn!” Michael could see its bloody, shiny ribs. A bulbous purple sack flapped over its exposed belly. He gagged and looked away. He had seen Dad gut and skin five deer over the course of his life. This was happening in real time.
A furry arm reached out of the bushes from behind the lamppost and tightly squeezed on the deer’s stringy throat. Michael backed into Mom. He risked a glance at her. Her lips were pursed into a tight “o”. Her hazel eyes were wide, wet, and unblinking against the wind. Her hand slowly inched across her chest to grasp the barrel of her gun. He looked back to the woods to see a mass of penny colored fur haul the deer to its chest. The figure paused. Michael saw red eyes glowing over six feet into the air. There was a loud, passive grunt. A broad head with long, triangular ears turned away from the parking lot and the eyes were gone. No more noise. The rustling bushes the creature left behind were disguised by the consistent, violent wind.
Quick, gory, and conveying Michael’s increasing fear. Until the werewolf grabs the deer he is disgusted and mostly neutral. At least that is my hope with this scene. The gore is mostly written in as little detail, at least when it comes to descriptions of the face. Everything is happening within a minute. The sentences are a little shorter to convey the speed: They see a deer running out of the forest. It turns to the forest and is dragged in by a large creature. Both have direct (Mom) and indirect (Michael) experience with werewolves and know what it is. As an author my job is to relate the details of nature like I myself (and you, the reader) are observers.
That is my goal first and foremost. Of course, depending on the character perspective the creature violence can be exciting, terrifying, or even dull and monotonous. For example, William Bryson is a werewolf hunter. Even still, everything a werewolf does is horrific because they only have a certain level of predictability. William’s perspective does not come in often but when it does, he is doing a job.