What More Characters Should Consider Before Turning, Transforming, Or Augmenting Someone


It happens sometimes in fiction that characters who really ought to know better are just a little too quick and willing to change someone into a vampire, grant somebody superpowers, or just casually turn somebody into a toad for a few minutes. But in actuality, something like this should not be done lightly (and almost certainly not as a prank, even if it's only temporary or can easily be reversed) by characters intended to be smart, experienced, or ethical. So here's a list of consideration that these characters should be taking into account before just up and changing somebody.



Does this person actually want it? Any undesired transformation has the potential to be very traumatic for someone, especially if it involves severe physical change or necessitates a major shift in lifestyle. Even if the change grants the recipient new or enhanced abilities, it has to be remembered that one person's gift is someone else's curse; it can't just be assumed that the recipient will come to appreciate it eventually. It's still a problem if the change is only temporary, since it's still taking control of someone's body and forcing it to do something that person does not want. (And we know from numerous real-life cases that it doesn't take much more than a few moments of being in a terrifying situation with no apparent escape to give someone PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms, and transformation absolultely has the potential to feel this way.) So as a general rule, changing other people's bodies without their consent would constitute a severe personal violation.

Does the intended recipient fully understand what all the change will entail? Let's say someone wants to become a vampire. Has this person been made aware of what vampires can and cannot consume to sustain themselves? How about things that might be dangerous or harmful to a vampire? What about any mental changes this might cause? Has this person been informed of what sorts of laws and customs vampires are expected to follow? What about the full extent of what kinds of lifestyle changes will be necessary? And has this person had the time to fully weigh and consider all of this and so decide whether it's worth it or not? Similar questions will apply to anything else a character might become - does this character fully comprehend how it all works and what sorts of expectations, responsibilities, and lifestyle changes it will entail?

Why does this person want it? It might not be necessary for someone to have a lofty and noble reason for wanting it, but some motivations should be considered red flags that this person should not be turned now, if ever. For example, a bad reason is "I just fell in love with this immortal guy and I want to be with him forever!" (Really? You haven't even been with him long enough to get out of the infatuation/honeymoon phase yet! Maybe wait a few years to find out if you're really going to be long-term relationship material, hmm?) Another bad reason is petty revenge. (Someone this short-sighted and prone to thinking of violence as a good solution should not be given any additional power!) Other bad reasons are becoming rich or famous. (There's no guarantee that it will get you this!) Essentially, any motive that is purely about gaining immediate gratification or has high odds of ending in abject disappointment is not a good motive for a permanent transformation, and any motive that comes down to pure pettiness or callous selfishness is a bad reason for any transformation.

Will this person probably behave responsibly and ethically with it? This is important to consider if the change will give this person any new abilities and powers. Does this person show the ability to exercise restraint when annoyed or stressed, or does this person easily fly off the handle? Is this person willing and able to try to resolve things diplomatically, or are you looking at someone prone to violence, backbiting, or petty revenge? Does this person generally care about the wellbeing of others and trying to be a decent person overall, or are you looking someone who shows no concern or compassion for others?

If ethics just aren't a concern here, could this still be a bad idea? Maybe your character is a villain who just doesn't care about ethical ramifications, but that doesn't mean all concern should just fly out the window. An unwilling recipient intended to be made into a minion might just run away at the first chance - or worse, decide to take vengeance. A decent amount of self-control is a must for one's minions, since it just doesn't do to have them constantly mucking everything up by going off-track. And it's probably not a smart idea to change someone whose reasons for wanting it conflict with one's intentions for this person.

Will turning this person likely cause other complications? To use vampires as an example again, vampires (usually) need to feed on blood and wish to remain hidden. Every new vampire created is going to cut into the local food supply and increase the odds that vampires are discovered and exposed. Whatever you might have going into your story, consider what complications might be made by changing someone, and whether the one or ones doing the changing might consider this to be a serious issue.

Someone dying is not necessarily a good reason. Even if the person is dying, the above considerations still apply. Does this person want it and know everything it entails? Is turning this person even a good idea? Careful considerations must be made even if this person is unconscious, too. While in medicine it's considered the best course of action to save the life of someone who is in grave danger but is incapable of giving informed consent (whether due to being unconscious, mentally compromised, etc.) or is not carrying a DNR card, things get a little hairier where a transformation is concerned. You're not simply saving somebody's life - you're giving somebody an entirely new life that may be entirely unwanted and may possibly be completely abhorrent to this person. And if this change grants powers or abilities that could be used to harm people, do you really want to risk giving them to someone of largely unknown character?


And these pages might be relevant to you:

Things To Know If Your Character Will Be Augmented Or Experimented Upon
Tips & Ideas To Make Better & More Interesting Powers
Pointlessly Edgy Tropes To Reconsider Using
Villain Tips: Of Conquest, Minions, Progress, & Planning
Ethical Considerations For Fantastic Situations - Are Your Sci-Fi & Fantasy Heroes Ethical People?

Tips For Writing Better Immortal & Long-Lived Characters
Tips & Ideas To Write More Believable Masquerades
Common Plotholes In Vampire Fiction
Alexis Feynman's Guide To Writing Better Vampire Fiction
Common Werewolf Tropes You Should Think Twice Before Using



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