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Writing about Superpowers

hippiepeace2I write speculative fiction, in a genre known as magical realism. In my worlds, fantasy-type things happen as part of normal reality and you, the reader, are hopefully convinced that neither magic nor yet-to-be-invented science are involved.

Each of my books concerns a character with a different superpower, and each time I have struggled to invent ways in which the power doesn’t work. It turns out that the abnormal abilities are fun, but it’s those limitations that make for a good story. In x0, my first protagonist discovers that she is a telepath. I could tell early on that if I let her powers go wild, by halfway through the book she’d pretty much run the world. That’s not much of a story.

One solution was to create villains with equal or greater powers, but this yielded a sort of comic book cosmos that wasn’t what I was after. I wanted a believable lady in a universe that looked like my own, in which she dealt with dangerous but real people. So, she could read minds, but obviously not easily or at a distance or all of the time.

In my second book, y1, my main character is a real life shape shifter. Once again, if he could turn himself into anything and he had even a little imagination, he ought to be in charge of everything before the plot really gets going. Luckily, I developed his powers as being rooted in his amazing fine muscle control and certain chameleon-like color alteration abilities. That left him limited by his hair, his clothes and his approximate size. No turning into wolves or refrigerators or flies on the wall for him. His limitations helped me craft a plot that involved the fanciful but didn’t spin out of control before it even got started.

My hero in z2 can slow down the passage of time to the point where it almost stands still. Once again I was challenged to limit his capabilities. He begins the book thinking that his unique talent only shows itself when he is playing sports. As he finds himself in a variety of physical emergencies, he figures out that he is more versatile than he realized. Fortunately it takes him to the end of the novel before he learns to dependably control and use this power. This lack of knowledge about how and when his superpower can be called upon allowed him to occasionally save the day without becoming too powerful.

I am now finishing up final edits on c3, and beginning my fifth book d4 and both introduce new superpowers developed in the other family members. I’m enjoying playing with these new plot lines, and working my hardest to keep my remaining super people from becoming entirely too invincible. I want them to ultimately save the day, but not until they  have had adventures that my readers will enjoy.

Thanks to Hippie Peace Freaks for the wise saying.  Please like their Facebook page.

(Note: I originally wrote this as part of a blog tour with Orangberry Book Tours and this content has appeared at Bunny’s Review, Me, You & Books, High Class Books, Reading the Dream Life and at Imagination in Books. )

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in telepathy, writing

 

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and then you bleed …

blood2I’ve just handed my fourth novel off to the first of my beta readers and I’m taking a little time to reflect, not to mention time to do a few loads of towels and go through the “where the hell did this junk come from” pile on my dresser. I’ll be starting d4 in October, and it now looks like I will in fact write a collection of six books. Wow.

I’m thinking of Ernest Hemingway today. It’s somewhat embarrassing that I’ve never read one of his novels even though I love many of his quotes. Recently I found this one. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Five years ago I would have found that silly and overly dramatic. Today it strikes me as the most succinct and accurate description of writing fiction that I have ever read.  Not that I write as well as Hemingway. He wasn’t talking about good or bad writing, just about the act of pouring yourself intotypewriter a story. No matter how overblown it seems, the truth is that I have pretty much gotten up for three days a week for the last seven months and picked up my lovely new ultralight computer, taken it out to my porch, and bled all over it. And found it fun.

Now that I’m handing the bloody mess off to friends and strangers alike, I have to wonder what motivates such odd behavior. I’m a very private person, yet I’m incapable of creating a story that isn’t filled with my most personal dreams and fears. I’m also incapable of not creating stories. I am aware that this didn’t end well for Hemingway, or for a lot of other writers that I admire. Others seemed to have navigated those same waters and survived and even thrived. What makes the difference?

Maybe while I’m on break I’ll skim a few writer’s biographies and try to figure out how others bandaged up their open wounds in between books. Maybe I’ll even finally read “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. I mean, how can I be writing a collection of stories that starts off with the premise that we are all one, and not have read a book that takes its title from a 1624 quote that says

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

Words worth considering as our world contemplates one more outbreak of war, and as each one of us sits on our porch and tries to bandage our own wounds from the previous day.

injury sign

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in writing

 

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