The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Super Powers

Alright let’s talk super powers. There aren’t many fantasy and science-fiction books left that don’t have any super powers in them. You could say that everything has been done before, as it is for a lot of things in fiction including whole story lines. But don’t worry about it too much! Just because it has been done once (or a million) times before doesn’t mean you can’t use it again! If it wasn’t acceptable to write about elves or trolls or dragons ever since they’ve been written down once before, we wouldn’t have books like Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Eragon.

Writers have to face at one point that almost everything they’ll write about has been done before. But that doesn’t matter! What matters is how you write, what your voice is, how you combine the certain elements that have already been used before. No two stories are alike, just like no two people are alike. And that’s exactly how it should be.

Back to the super powers. If you want to add inhuman powers to your story first you have to think about why your character has them? Here are a few suggestions:

Inhuman nature:
The character has the super powers because he is of a different race than us normal mortals. For instance a wizard, alien, elf, faerie etc.
Power giving object: The character possesses something that grants him to have these super powers such as a costume, wand, ring, necklace, magic shoes etc.
Mutation: The character transforms for some reason for instance something in his DNA gone mad, or evolution.
Freak accident: By some sort of accident the character gets his superpowers. Think radioactive fluids, bite from a werewolf, getting hit by a meteorite, radioactive spiders etc.

Now that you have decided how your character got his super powers, it’s time to decide what kind of powers he’s going to have. Can he convince anyone of the most absurd things simply because of his voice? Does he have power boosts which allow him to jump really far and high? Can he read thoughts? Can he control earth?

Mostly you’ll have to decide if the powers will be physical, mentally or naturally based. Physical can be anything from super eyesight to outrageous strength or invisibility. Mentally-based abilities are used by simply using one’s mind and will. For instance empathy, moving objects with your mind, chocking someone by simply thinking it. That sort of thing. With naturally based powers think about controlling earth, air, lightning and other forces of nature. Or of course you could decide that your character knows how to use all these kinds of powers. Just remember that if the hero in your story has super powers the villains must have as well! If the hero is stronger than the villain there isn’t much of a story now is there? The hero will win within seconds. The other way around is however possible . It makes it more difficult for a hero to defeat the bad guy if the bad guy has such a big advantage.

When you think about some typical bad guys, you realize that most of them have something big, something evil and powerful to their advantage against the main character. Take any bad guy and see what advantages he has over the main character. Take a few books and compare the baddies. You’ll see that the advantages that they have most likely look alike. A lot of time it will be wealth and power including a big army at their disposal. In a lot of books they will also have superpowers that assures their control of the kingdom/country/world/ galaxy etc.

Now I think that a lot of you worry all the time that your writing is affected by books you read and that it looks too much like a book or movie that already exists. First, you probably are influenced by a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve seen. But don’t worry that’s not a bad thing! That book probably got you interested in the subject. It created a small window for you to look inside of a world full of stories about the same genre. For instance I write about fantasy and I’m certain that I’ve been influenced by the books I’ve read. That doesn’t mean that I copy exactly what they write. It meant that they got me into fantasy. Through those books I learned about dragons, elves, adventures, love, magic, sadness, true heroism and lots more. They inspire you and you want to write something just as good and perhaps a little bit better. My point is as long as you use something thinking of it on your own—and not copying it with full knowledge of doing that—and if you use it in your own way and use it to fit your story, there is nothing wrong with it. There are thousands of books about dragons out there still they are all read and loved by readers… now why would there be a reason why your book can’t fit right in there?

I wrote this post because of a comment where someone was afraid that the powers would look too much like those in Star Wars. First let me tell you that those powers have probably been used in fiction tons of times before Star Wars and tons of times after Star Wars. When you read back your story you think “This looks too much like Star Wars” because you are probably into that and have seen the movies and/or read the books. Another person might read your story and think “This seems way too much like Charmed.” Because they’ve never seen Star Wars and are big Charmed fans. In other words there will always be people saying “It is just like....” often mentioning a book or movie you’ve never heard about before.

Take Telekinesis for instance, the ability to move things with your mind. Here is a really short list of some people who can do that:
Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Jean Grey (X-men)
Maxima (DC comics superman titles)
Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)
the Fallen (Transformers)
Andros (Power Rangers)

And the list goes on and on. And that’s just with one ability! So don’t worry too much about if it has been done before and if it looks too much like something else. Just enjoy writing it and if it turns out 100% like something else... well then you can always go back and change it a little bit so it goes back to 98% and then you’re fine.

Please comment to tell me what you think and/or suggest something for my next post it’s always appreciated! You can also follow me on Twitter now. I don’t think I ever say anything interesting on there but it could be fun!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii


  1. Thanks a lot LordKiwii!! :D
    This really helped me, thanks!
    If I think of anything else to ask, I'll let you know! ( I was the one who asked you to write about this )

    Thank you for taking the time to write a whole blog entry about my question :)

    Keep on writing!

  2. I know you just took a request, but I'd like to ask you for a favor? Can you write an article on plot lines and cliches? My plot line just hit a wall and I don't know what to do. I also had my friend read the beginning of my story and she said it was full of cliches. Can you please help?

  3. @ Broken Angel:

    I'd love to help! Actually you saved me because I had no idea what to write about next! I'll try my best! :)