So do werewolves need a pack? If so, why? I've been reading more urban fantasy lately and it seems like every book I read about werewolves defaults to a pack setting. The Mercy Thompson and Kitty Norville series are the two I'm most familiar with- both have packs that play a prominent role- and it does seem like this is the norm. And that brings up a related question- are some of these werewolves really werewolves, or are they just... wolves?
I know that some protagonists are more shifters than werewolves per se, so maybe that partially answers the question (I know Mercy is a coyote shifter but her neighboring wolf pack play a huge role), but it almost seems to me that once the transformation is complete, it's like they're just wolves sometimes. They hunt for game and howl at the moon and hang out together- strength in numbers- but they don't always act like werewolves do in movies or folklore. I'm used to werewolves hunting people, or at the very least being very dangerous, whereas a lot of the werewolves in UF seem to try avoiding people.
That's nice, of course, if you want to read about characters that are, you know, decent. Who wants to read about a crazed psycho werewolf killing people constantly? Um... me maybe? But seriously I think there's room for both, but obviously a story like that is going to be very different from the relatively sympathetic protagonists we typically get. I can't help thinking, though- where are the solitary werewolves? Why are there so many that there's always a pack? Would a pack of werewolves really go unnoticed, even if they live in a remote area?
Also something else that's been bugging me. Why does the transformation into werewolf hurt? I mean it might seem intuitive- you're changing form, of course it's going to hurt, right? But, if it's a magical thing... it doesn't have to. I mean you can make either one your default as a writer, but I almost always see painful transformations as the standard. Again, maybe moreso in books? On screen I think I've seen more immediate shifts, or some that are painful but some that aren't.
So... what do you think? Pack or no pack? Should werewolves (or other shifters) be running around solo?