05 April 2007

Oh the power!

One of my favorite paranormal characters to write are witches. Maybe it's because it lets me experience magic powers vicariously. My problem is limiting myself (and my characters) to a believable number of gifts. Yes, usually the plot dictates what the main gift should be, but oh man! It is so easy to just add a power here and there, thereby creating the "super witch." Unfortunately, that's not good. Too much power makes the character completely unbelievable unless there is some major drawbacks to having so many gifts, not to mention the fact that it becomes too easy to have a "magic" answer for everything. With a super witch character, you're going to have a hard time maintaining suspense if she can just wave her hand and solve every problem.

The question becomes where to draw the line. How much is too much? At what point does your character become the equivilent of Q from Star Trek or an ascended ancient in Stargate? There is no magic number (no more than 4 powers to each customer) and every story is going to have different requirements. One option is to let the character have a couple strong gifts, and a very limited ability with some others. Mercedes Lackey did this with her character Vanyel in The Last Herald Mage trilogy. he was strong, yes, and had almost every gift out there, but some were only useful in small things. (Example: he had the firestarter gift, but it was only strong enough to start a campfire, and would't have been useful as an offensive weapon)

In a project I'm working on now, I divided the popular "powers" into elemental groups. Any one witch can have as many gifts as I care to give her/him in one group. Having powers from more than one group, ultimately destroys the witch and drives them insane. Some pairings are slower to disable the user, but others, like fire and air can mess them up pretty quickly. And what happens when some pour soul starts developing powers in all four elements? I don't know yet. I'll let you know when I get the story done *grin*
Post a Comment