I have been working out the villains for Phoenix Aflame. They are a clan of muscular, quarrelsome, vicious shifters who are after the main characters and their families. They are brutal killers (literally).

I want some advice on how best to proceed. But first, here is a glimpse of these bad guys.

Malik and Dustin shifted too. The three of them stood shoulder to shoulder and displayed their teeth. The old boar ground to an astonished halt. Behind him and sows and yearlings crashed into his hindquarters, squealing and yelping. The old boar lurched. His beady black eyes glittered uncertainly. Shawn inhaled the arousing fragrance of the boar’s newfound alarm. He growled deep in his own throat.

Beside him, Malik and Dustin also growled. As one, they charged. The boar’s nerve broke. He turned tail. His powerful shoulders scattered his females and young as he bolted in the other direction. Their fear was an exhilarating fragrance in the humid night air. Now the fun could begin.

Shawn felt one with his brothers as they drove into the midst of the terrified, stampeding hogs. He seized the hind leg of a yearling in his jaws. Blood and bone spurted. It was the most delicious taste in the world. The pig squealed and writhed on the road. Shawn ripped out his throat.

He turned his head. His next bite brought down the sow rushing past. She fought him, but he had a grip on the side of her neck and when Malik added his jaws on the other side, she was done. Dustin was pounding after the stampeding herd. He bit a yearling on her skinny rump. She swung her around to attack him. Dustin’s teeth removed her snout.

The entire herd was wild with fear. Shawn didn’t know if he liked the smell or the sound of terror better. He bit and snarled and gulped hunks of the pigs that fell behind.

Malik had a plan. He started snapping at the heels of the running pigs and signaled to Shawn and Dustin. Shawn didn’t want to leave the thrashing animal he was disemboweling, but Malik’s threat drew him away. He propelled himself alongside the running hogs. He bumped them with his shoulder and nipped at their asses.

The hogs turned as a unit, futilely trying to get away from the menace he and his brothers represented. He slashed at a haunch or two to keep the pressure up. The yelping was the sweetest music he had ever heard.

This excerpt was deliberately non-specific, so you had to imagine the predatory animals who were attacking the feral hogs. The species I had in mind was the wolverine, a predatory animal of the far north. It is also known as a skunk bear or glutton. With a few changes, these villains could be crocodiles instead.

My writing buddies think people do not know what a wolverine is and will visualize those animals as cuddly wolfettes when they are ferocious animals not afraid to take on bears and wolves.

Could you fill out a short 4-question survey to help me decide how to portray these bad guys?

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