1. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Describing Psychic Powers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by JTheGreat, Jul 22, 2010.

    I'm starting to think I should've gone with plain ole' magic... nah.

    Anyway, inmy story a majority of the characters possess psychic powers. It's very organized. Class 1 is telekineses, Class 2 is telepathy, and so on. There are also level systems, Level 1 being a kid who can barely do anything at all and Level 5 being a grand master of sorts. What I'm wondering is how to describe the usage of such powers through description.

    Should it be....

    Salem’s brows furrowed as he pushed his way into the confines of Olivya Knight’s mind. Her mind, like most, was a large, complex fortress, each room full of books organized by subject. He dashed down a hallway. She’d made the thought fairly obvious, lying out in the main chamber. Windows in the thought chamber looked out to what she was seeing. Horns stuck out of the walls, conveying the soft murmuring of her hearing. He picked up the note about the quill, returning to reality.

    Or....

    Salem concentrated, weaving his way through the sea of Olivya Knight's mind. He found the thought of the quill, stark and bold. She made no effort to conceal it.

    The second option is more pragmatic, and less confusing, but the first option would give much mre understanding to how mind-reading takes place. *Sigh*. Thoughts?
     
  2. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Although the first feels a bit overwritten in any case to me (and lose the extraneous 'the' in the first line), I think it would depend on what you are trying to describe and where in the story that falls.

    I know that's a non-answer, but let me give an example. Ever read any L.E. Modesitt? A lot of his characters have psychic/supernatural powers, but they're as much a part of everyday life at times as they are an important part of the plot. Thus, when a character is eating dinner and wants to cool down his soup (or some other not-a-big-deal event like that), he uses the second description: 'John used his temperature powers to cool down his soup' (or whatever.) However, if John's temperature powers are what's keeping him alive in the frozen fantasy tundra, then they are much more described, in keeping with your first example.

    So what's Salem's going into Olivya's mind--just a daily thing, because he's a psychic beat cop, or is it something much more important? Answer that, and I think you'll have your answer.
     
  3. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the great explanation! Well, it was an excerpt from the first chapter, where he is proving his powers so that he could be admitted into a school for psychics. I guess that's important, but I'll cut down the wordiness so it doesn't bog it down so much.
     
  4. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In fantasy and SF there is a learning curve. Things are new and strange and you got to give the readers a chance to catch up.

    You could warm up having quite straight forward descriptions in the beginning of the book gradual becoming more complex.
     
  5. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    I'm still a bit confused as to how to describe telekinetic powers. In Push (the sci-fi movie with Dakota Fanning) "Moving" (what they call it) is described as the character altering the gravitational field around an object. Or something.

    I have no problem with that, but I do with cryokineses/pyrokineses.

    I'm tempted to say that they just concentrate on a patch of molecules and they speed up and burst into flame, or they slow down and turn to ice, but that seems too simple. Thoughts?

    I can't omit any details, because the way the children are taught how to control their powers is crucial to the story.

    WHOA, IDEA. The less-skilled people were taught with no visualization techniques, but the strongest ones were! But that still means I need to explain how they visualize. Help!
     
  6. Berko
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    Berko New Member

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    One easy ways to describe them using these powers would be to describe them preforming a trigger that lets them use their power.
    Too often it seems like psychics just tap into their ability with no effort. Maybe have them do something physical that activates their power. This could be anything from drinking some concoction to the classic pressing of the temples.

    Another thing you could do is have their be a side effect to the powers and describe the characters pain or strength in dealing with it. Could be as simple as simply getting drained of energy, or maybe it's as different for people as their powers. If I were to do it, I'd have it be something to do with their emotions. Whenever I think of psychic powers having a disadvantage, I think about the spiritual and emotional aspects of it. Having their current emotion become overwhelming or maybe just having them get really mad whenever they use their power, and making it an almost literal battle between mind and heart.
    Thats just me though.

    If none of these suggestions help I'd recommend reading The Dead Zone and Carrie. Also watch Scanners for some visual help.
     

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