1. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America

    My character is too powerful (?)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheNewGuy, Jul 25, 2010.

    Hi everyone! This forum has been really great with the feedback I get from my submissions in the novel section. I'm working on the Dheko idea (if you want to read it, check the novel section in review room), and I was thinking about this idea:

    In Dheko (not the title), the main character (Markus Dheko) triest to escape from his old life by joining a rebellion against the government (and several other heinous corporations) in a medieval/modern fantasy setting. The world has just invented simple firearms that function with 'magic' powder, so essentially technology is at about the level Earth was when the firearm was invented. No cars (thought I thought about it) or planes, not yet. The guns are also very expensive, so only the rich (or lucky) can use them. Other than that, the most powerful technology that will be used in the novel is psychology and philosophy.

    Anyway, there were going to be some villains with personality disorders and a few magical powers that they use to their advantage. I don't see a problem with this, it's not a horribly unoriginal idea...but I wanted to give my main character an edge. I thought about giving him a magical power too.

    Does this make him too powerful? I want him to be dynamic and change throughout the story, but to me it seems like introducing a character with an already learned magical power seems kind of...awkward. I feel like he might be too powerful, or too developed. Not everyone will have powers. So should the main character?

    So, I guess my question is: power or no power? Or should I make him learn the power throughout the journey (I don't like this, because it seems overdone, but its just an opinion)? Are powers overdone?

    I know its a loaded question, and you might not have enough data to answer. You don't have to get specific, I'd just like a little outside input.
    Thanks :-\

    (maybe if I decide to give him a power I can make a poll and y'all can vote on what power to give him :D)
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I think it's a matter of how much power you give him. If he's too powerful, then he can easily overcome any challenge he faces, and the story is boring. (This is the Superman problem - the reason the writers of Superman comics had to invent kryptonite.)

    The reader has to believe the character can be defeated, otherwise there won't be any suspense. So don't make him too powerful. How powerful is too powerful depends, I guess, on how powerful his enemies are.
     
  3. Langadune
    Offline

    Langadune Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    I'm from the part of Kansas that doesn't look like
    This being a mostly fantasy story, I don't think the use of "powers" would seem out of place. As to your main character's dilemma, it depends on how you write it. Yes, the journey of self discover has been done before (a great many times) but that's because it's a theme that people can follow. What will set it apart is what you do to set it apart. Make it interesting enough to be different and people won't say it's overdone.
     
  4. Evelyanin
    Offline

    Evelyanin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    10
    Personally, I think the character will be so much more likeable if he is able to defeat the bad guys without the use of an extra power. By using his brain to come up with plans to overcome the obstacles, people will be able to relate to him. I find it so difficult to relate to a character that doesn't really have to work in order to win. If he has to put in the extra effort, the victory will seem so much more sweet.
     
  5. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America
    Thanks guys. I think I mostly agree with Evelyanin's statements:
    I think he will remain powerless for the time being (alas, I'll have to erase the last three hundred words or so...). Perhaps one of his friends can have a power--that way I get all the fun of using magic on the good team but without making the main character seem unrelatable.
     
  6. untalented311
    Offline

    untalented311 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    ohio
    You might want to give him a character that everyone else might find useless but that he can use creatively, something that he may be ashamed of at the beginning, but learn to use at the end. Does that make any sense? Something that can grow, you never want a character that has everything at his fingertips but someone who has to work and sharpen his skills is common.
    And villans are supposed to be almighty, lol, otherwise where would the challenge be? I hope that this was constructive.
     
  7. B-Gas
    Offline

    B-Gas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    14
    The main character is nothing without his villain. Who is the villain? If we know what the villain is capable of, then we can judge whether your hero is too strong. To test this theory, picture the super-strong, nigh-invincible Herakles (Often written Hercules).

    Exhibit A:
    Herakles vs. Old Man Abernathy (Scooby Doo)

    Exhibit B:
    Herakles vs. The Hydra (Hercules Legend)

    In Exhibit A, Herakles can win by simple overwhelming force, and Old Man Abernathy simply cannot compete without being diabolically clever and having lots of friends. In Exhibit B, his overwhelming force is met with an identical overwhelming force in the body of a monster with several heads that grow back double if they're cut off.

    Exhibit A is unbalanced in favor of the protagonist- though it can be balanced again by giving Old Man Abernathy some advantage like a good reputation, or lots of strong friends with guns and a good vantage point.

    Exhibit B is balanced, though this isn't necessarily a good thing. You don't want things balanced for your main character, you want things unbalanced against them. If they're not overcoming impossible odds, why bother reading about them?
     
  8. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America
    B-Gas

    So, my villains are:

    -Honey, a beautiful psychotic killer who uses the power of her own magic to keep herself beautiful and keep her minions under control (it's some kind of pheromone thing. Much akin to a Queen Bee.)


    -Geoffree (David), Literally only one person, Geoffree has at least two known personalities. His two personalities interchange without warning, and while both are completely aware of what is going on they both have quite different goals. Geoffree was once a good soul but after whatever event caused him to develop a split personality, his original self became a twisted mockery of what he once was. He is sad all the time, with a hint of deranged lunacy, but also quite cunning when he needs to be. David, his other side, is angry and ruthless, developed from his suppressed feelings of rage towards his tormentors. When David is unleashed there is usually no going back until things calm down. It is said that neither Geoffree nor David feel love, but Geoffree is prone to pain and guilt, either of which will usually cause David to emerge. Geoffree and David work for Honey at the beginning, but David has bigger plans. Her chemical methods have no effect on them, which makes them her most threatening hirelings.

    -The Cat (Mina, a.k.a. minx) is an assassin, who has a personal vendetta against the main character's group, and leader of an assassins "guild." Like a cat, she loves to play with her victims, and bring back trophies for her master—ears, tongues, fingers, toes and the like. She refuses to be defeated—if she cannot win a fight she’ll run away, or simply disappear, and try again later. She is no stranger to disguise, thought stealth works better for her.

    Question for all: Do you like these villains? I dreampt them up years ago!
     
  9. untalented311
    Offline

    untalented311 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    ohio
    I love your characters! Except the name for maybe the Cat, too similair to Catwoman I think, but I wouldn't put too much into my opinion, I'm a little obsessed with Batman and the Joker (mostly the Joker) but Catwoman as well
     
  10. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    Heres what I would do. Start him off as a regular joe who wants to join this rebellion. Now drop some hints, maybe an outburst of whatever this magical power is, but make it so he doesn't have any control over it. Depending on the ability, he may only be barely aware of it at first. When he really understands it, have him train to use it. Throw in where he thinks he has mastered it, but something goes wrong and because of this it causes damage towards his cause somehow.

    You can give your character just about any magical power, but just don't make it so he can quickly overcome any obstacle he is faced with. Don't let it be something thats easy to master. Have him struggle to fully control of it. Also try and make it something that gives your guys an upperhand in the conflict, but not something that may just destroy all his enemies with a blink of an eye.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  11. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    TheNewGuy, do you want to give your character an edge, or just something that makes him more interesting?

    He may have a power that is of little to no use in a fight. For example, prophecy - being able to foretell the future in general terms. Or healing powers - if it takes ten minutes for him to heal a flesh wound, and an hour to wake someone from a coma, it's of limited use in a fight.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    Yes, they sound interesting. Just give them room to change and grow. Be sure you don't box them in. Same with the main character.

    I think you can give him a power if you want. Just don't make it something where he never faces any kind of obstacles. That will definitely stunt him. In my opinion, any kind of spiritual/emotional growth comes through struggles. In real life as well as books.

    Perhaps he can't control it, or he misuses it at some point, or he doesn't like being so different. There are a lot of ways you can give him dimension and struggles with this. Best of luck. :)
     
  13. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America
    More interesting.

    I have created a giant cast of unique and/or weird characters, and I felt like the main character was the only normal guy. At the same time, in a world where everyone is weird and special, how could he survive? So it's kind of an edge thing too.

    Thanks for the input, everyone. I wrote a story which in which the main character developes a power, and I didn't want to write the same one twice, so I'm kind of hesitant on that idea. As for the villains, I think they will not be boxed in. They will constantly be bickering amongst themselves as well as fighting the heroes, and that's besides the 'government' villain!
     
  14. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    Sounds good best of luck.

    Also, probably every premise on the face of the earth has been done before in some way or another. What makes it unique is your voice as a writer. :)
     
  15. Herl
    Offline

    Herl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Colombia
    I love your villains! and at first I liked untalented's idea about giving a silly power which he could use creatively, but the way you described the world, filled with weird and unique characters, perhaps it is a better decision what you said of leaving him a normal guy. plus it is always nicer to read about a weak character that has to suffer through his battle than one that doesn't.
     
  16. Peregrin
    Offline

    Peregrin Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Totally depends on the story. In comics, everyone has a counter.

    Read a few Dungeons & Dragons novels to get a feel for characters with a wide array of powers. I've only read the Erevis Cale trilogy and his powers are of Divine origin, meaning he gets them when his god (sort of) grants them. This is a good way to keep even the power of Miracles in check.

    Check out a few episodes of One Piece online if you get the opportunity. the story is really long, so it may take a while to get a feel for the characters, but the main characters are truly lesser gods among gods among men. Like so many before me have mentioned, the great parts about this manga/anime is that the characters only get one ability and have to learn how to take it to greater heights in order to stay on top. For example, the main character, Monkey D. Luffy looks and acts like a little kid, but has a body made of rubber, so all of his attacks and defenses center around the properties of rubber. His imagination, not just his power, is what makes him so successful.

    Oh, and if you really want to make your character an "average joe" type, why not make his power a secret so secret even he doesn't know what it is. that would baffle everyone as well as make him a target. Think Biblical Sampson. He was kicking butt and looked every bit the normal tuff guy until he started ripping lions apart bare-handed. No one knew it was his long hair, and finding out that information was just as big a deal as actually beating him.

    It sounds like a fun piece of work you're doing. Hope you end up finding what you need.
     
  17. constant scribbler
    Offline

    constant scribbler Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Make sure that your main character isn't too strong. I have read books where the main character seems to be able to conquer every challenge easily and I end up hoping that they will die. The power thing will work but don't make the power easy to control. Make the power a burden as well as something helpful.
     
  18. Alpha Saluno
    Offline

    Alpha Saluno New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    If the antagonists have magical abilities, why not give your protagonist one too? It all depends on what you like better- A story of a mortal boy who has to stand up to magic opponents or a magical boy who has to defeat the other magicians?

    Most of my characters in story's about magic have the abilitie to use it too, but always a bit less then their opponents. When your protagonist is less powerful then the antagonist but still wins in the end, it gives a better effect. Like HP > Voldemort xD
     
  19. BlueWolf
    Offline

    BlueWolf Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Germany
    The villain of the piece must seem unbeatable, they must seem invincible, with all on their side, and nothing (or little) on the hero's side - it is what creates peril and excitement, so that when the inevitable battle occurs (in whatever form it may be), it feels that much more satisfying.

    Your hero must be in danger, they must lose things (and people), but they come through in the end.

    (Hero vs Villian 101)
     

Share This Page