Jan 05 2008

Seven Common Problems with Psychic Characters

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Writing a novel or comic book/graphic novel about a psychic character? Here are some recurring challenges.

1. Psychic fights are hard to depict. In a comic book or graphic novel, you can draw Superman throwing a rock at someone. How would you show a psychic using his mind to throw a rock? Those little white lines going everywhere usually look goofy. In a novel, describing a psychic fight is even harder.

 

2. Psychic powers are usually hard to use creatively. Mind-reading, telepathy, mindblasts and (especially) mind-control are not very versatile. In most cases, these powers either solve the problem instantly or are completely useless. On the plus side, telekinesis gives more opportunities for creativity.

 

3. Secrets, fear and uncertainty add drama, but mind-reading powers pretty much rule out surprise and deception. That’s a suspense-killer. One way to avoid this would be to remove the mind-reading powers altogether.  Failing that, you could add limits to your character’s mind-reading powers. For example, mind-reading is usually a discreet/covert ability, which isn’t very dramatic.  You can raise the stakes by making mind-reading so intrusive that the victims know when their minds are read.  That will encourage your hero to read minds only when it’s very important.  Another option is forcing the psychic to touch the person before mind-reading is possible.  That will make your characters have to do interesting things to turn on their powers, rather than just flip the switch and solve the problem.

 

4. Memory erasure/alteration makes a story vulnerable to “reboots,” when something important happens and the story later makes it unhappen. For example, someone learns the psychic’s secret identity and later the psychic erases his memory. That isn’t very satisfying.  First, solving a problem simply by turning on a superpower is rarely very interesting.  One more interesting alternative would be somehow using hallucinations or illusions to somehow convince the person that what he learned is not actually true.  Second, it makes it hard to tell who knows what.

 

5. Forcefields usually don’t work out well for authors. They’re hard to depict, hard to choreograph (especially in novels) and aren’t very versatile. They also suffer from power fluctuation. (Typically, the villain can break them until the author wants the hero to start winning).

 

6. It’s hard to explain how a psychic could survive the routine blows any supervillain will land in a fight. Most superheroes have some kind of super-resilience so that their fights don’t end as soon as the villain lands a punch.  But super-resilience doesn’t seem to fit with psychic powers really smoothly, particularly if the hero has an otherwise normal body.

 

7. “Why doesn’t she crush Dr. Doom’s windpipe!?” Readers will wonder why the Invisible Woman doesn’t make the most of her powers by rearranging her enemies’ organs. “But she’s a good guy!” and similar ethical qualms will seem really flimsy when the supervillain is moments away from conquering or destroying the world. It will probably help to create a stronger restriction. For example, your character’s powers only work on things he can see, or they only affect inorganic material.  

 

For an alternate take on psychic characters, I recommend Writing Psychic Superheroes and Psionics.  

228 responses so far

228 Responses to “Seven Common Problems with Psychic Characters”

  1. Psynapseon 28 Feb 2008 at 9:25 am

    Interesting as my character is psychic. I’ll keep this in mind whilst writing my story.

  2. B. Macon 28 Feb 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Good luck. Let me know how it turns out. If you need a beta reviewer, I’m available.

  3. chulanceon 04 Apr 2008 at 7:53 am

    Hey, will you help me with a hero? He has elasticity and increased strength because he’s a martial artist. What kind of transformations can he have?

  4. B. Macon 04 Apr 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Elasticity transformations? Well, uhh. Hmm. When you say transformations, do you mean a species-change (like Kafka’s Metamorphosis or The Fly) or something like Spiderman? I’m drawing a blank on a species change (well, I guess some lizards have long tails and tongues that you could conceivably use for stretchiness, but that’s pushing it).

    If you’re looking for a more generic modification (like Spiderman), you could try pretty much any sci-fi origin story (radiation, genetic engineering, cybernetics, mutation, chemical alteration, cosmic rays/radiation, etc.) For example, your character is working in a lab that is designing spider-silk body armor, which is designed to stretch when the wearer is shot. (That reduces the impact of the bullet by extending the time of impact with the person… you can think of that like jumping off a building vs. jumping off of a building onto a trampoline). However, he spills one of the chemicals on himself and it makes his own skin as elastic as the spider-silk… his bone structure becomes more flexible and his skin becomes more elastic. If you’re looking for quasi-scientific mumbo-jumbo, I recommend “tensile strength,” “molecular cohesion,” “material density,” “structural enhancement,” etc.

    If the spider-silk body armor tangent interests you, I’d recommend looking at this site: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_32/b3996068.htm .

    Depending on how wacky your story is, you might try a fantasy origin (magic, artifacts, divine intervention, etc.) But I’d recommend a sci-fi origin… that’s probably more appropriate for your story’s tone.

  5. mollibon 07 Oct 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, your whole site is ridiculously cool. So happy I came across it.

    A few of my characters in my current novel have a variety of psionic and psychokinetic powers.

    In number three you wrote, “Secrets, fear and uncertainty add drama. If your character can read everybody’s mind, he can’t be surprised. That’s a suspense-killer!” which makes complete sense. Do you have any ideas about realistic (well, relatively :) ways to present a character with telepathy? What might be ways in which the telepathy is limited? Distance/range is one limitation I’ve given to my telepathic character – she has a hard time when someone is beyond X feet, etc. Other ideas?

    Thank you!

  6. B. Macon 07 Oct 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Hmm. I would start by making sure that his powers aren’t very useful for preventing ambushes. For example, perhaps one of the restrictions on his ability to read minds is that he has to see the target first. That will make it easier for villains to surprise him. In contrast, some psychics have the ability to mentally sense people behind them, which takes away the potential for dramatic ambushes.

    Second, I would suggest tweaking his mind-reading power so that his targets know what’s happening. They should know that he’s reading their minds. That would help restrict his ability to read minds.

    As for making telepathy realistic… the brain works with electrical impulses. Your psychic might just be able to pick up and interpret the electrical impulses of other people’s brains.

  7. mollibon 11 Oct 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you! That is incredibly helpful.

  8. B. Macon 11 Oct 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Sure thing. Thank you for your question.

  9. Bretton 11 Oct 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Also, could a psychic hero be limited by technology or equipment?

    Example: Magneto wears a helmet to block Charles Xavier.

  10. B. Macon 11 Oct 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I like your suggestion, Brett. Juggernaut also wears a helmet to protect against psychic attacks. An anti-psychic helmet would force a psychic hero to improvise– how can you get the helmet off without using your powers? That’s an interesting setup.

  11. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Nov 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Angel in Maximum Ride can read minds, but her enemies have developed ways to mentally block her, and replace the organic Erasers (flunkies who carry out the dirty work) with robots so they have no mind to be read. Angel is a very scary six year old, I’m telling you that. She doesn’t have the problem with being a kid either. When she does have a cute line, it always makes you feel sorry for her or go “awwww”, not “shut up and do something useful”. That shows just how good an author James Patterson is.

  12. iMion 25 Jan 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Well, this is good. I’m writing a comic book with five main heroes. Krystal can summon diamonds to use them as weapons. Invisible King is, well, invisible. Gassy Girl can transform into various gasses. Shield has the power to create force fields and is a combatant. And the psychic one, Miss Marvel, has telekinesis.

  13. Davidon 25 Jan 2009 at 5:55 pm

    i think miss marvel has been taken Rogus sister from X men i belive

  14. Ragged Boyon 25 Jan 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Yeah, Ms. Marvel is already taken, she’s a member of the Avengers. I’m not a big fan of the names, Krystal and Shield are ok, but the rest are a little cheesy.

    How about:

    Fume instead of Gassy Girl

    Lucid or Hollow instead of Invisibility King

    Marvel instead of Ms. Marvel

  15. B. Macon 25 Jan 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’m not really sure about the tone of your series. For example, Gassy Girl is fine if you want to be a really over-the-top comedy with cartoonish characters, but it doesn’t feel like she’s in the same universe as Shield or Krystal (who sound like serious superheroes played straight).

    So, umm, I’d recommend deciding whether you want this to be a serious and conventional comic book, a comic farce, or something in between. For example, if the running gag is that one of the heroes is the Only Sane Man and everyone else is completely wacky and over-the-top, then giving the sane guy a serious-sounding name would help.

    Also, I’d recommend spelling Crystal with a C. Unconventional spellings (or less conventional spellings) can distract readers.

    RB, I really like your suggestions for alternate, more serious names. I think Fume in place of Gassy Girl really works, if the character is meant to be serious. However, my main concern is that Lucid doesn’t sound quite right (to me at least). Lucid can mean translucent, but it usually means sane or intelligible. In place of Lucid I’d recommend Lucent.

  16. TRISMEGISTUSon 27 Apr 2009 at 11:48 am

    I writing a hero with the power to see the future.
    He has limits but I was wondering if these are original.
    - He can only see so far into the future.
    - He can only see himself
    - The less certain the event is the more cloud it is.
    - He has to touch someone to see their future
    - The more things he tries to watch the vision either become clouded or mixed up.

    I don’t want him to be too weak, but not so strong it can’t take away the supense from the novel.
    Also, I want him to have ability to use possession.
    I thought about weakness for that power too.

    - He only gains the Possession ability after he turns.( I not sure into what yet)
    - He can only use one of the two at a time.
    - Using possession for two long makes him weak.
    - He has to be able to lay his eyes on them (not eye contact exactly)
    - He can possess a maxium of six people, but the more people he possesses the less time he can hold on to them.

    Can someone please help me with these. I would very thankful.

  17. Marissaon 27 Apr 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Hey, Trismegistus, do you mind if I call you Tris?

    I’ve not seen you here before, so welcome. :D

    I, personally, think that seeing into the future would be anything but weak, if he’s smart enough to know what to do with it. However, if you’d like to do both that and possession…

    The only one I have a real problem with is the possession. It seems overpowered in itself, being able to possess anyone he can see, and up to six people. It’s one of those powers that cannot be fought. I’d take the number down to something like three at max, and even then, not only can he possess them for a shorter time, but the possession would be weaker. The strong at heart might be able to resist, so he’d have to choose his victims accordingly.

    I don’t know, those are just my thoughts.

  18. TRISMEGISTUSon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:18 am

    Hello, Marissa. Yeah, Tris is fine.

    I was thinking that also.

    Rule #6 had me think of a defense for a psychic type, but I didn’t want it to be a force field or shields. I want to be both a defense and offense. Since seeing the future is more like a support skill than anything else, I want the hero to come as being strong than he really is.

    So, for limitations, how about these?
    - He can only possess 3 people at once.
    - He can make them allies when he’s being attacked.
    - Since he’s the good guy, he’d probably make them fall asleep to get away.
    - Since he’s a troubled teen, he may have reservations about using this power. (But that would hardly stop them).
    - Think Pusher from Push the movie.

  19. Ragged Boyon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:24 am

    Hola, Tris. :-D

    I think those are some solid limitations. Oh god, don’t remind me of Push. I despise that awful movie.

  20. TRISMEGISTUSon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:26 am

    PS: I want to turn him into a vampire, but I’m seriously thinking it over since it feels overused.

    But I want to use the immortal and regeneration powers within the horror genre. The main thing about my vampire novel that is different is that there are more monsters than vampires and werewolves. If these two mythological creatures are real, why leave the others out.

    I want to use these four main genres: Action, Horror, Mystery, and Romance.

    I’m new to writing, but I am really trying.

  21. Davidon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:29 am

    Hey, what was Push about and what was wrong with it?

  22. TRISMEGISTUSon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:33 am

    You’re absolutely right; the movie was awful. However the powers were really cool. I give it 2 out of 5 stars, but that was only because of their abilities.

  23. Ragged Boyon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:34 am

    I don’t remember much about the storyline, I was too busying rolling my eyes to see the scene. But it was just really lackluster to me. The action scenes were lukewarm, the story scenes were boring, and the main character lucked his way out of everything and was pretty bland. The only thing I found interesting were the different types of psychics*.

    *I’m not sure if they are actually psychic, but I presume so.

  24. TRISMEGISTUSon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:36 am

    I don’t think the bleeders (the ones that scream) are psychics.

  25. Ragged Boyon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:42 am

    Oh, I forgot about the Bleeders. Oh well, no one will remember the movie anyway.

  26. TRISMEGISTUSon 28 Apr 2009 at 9:43 am

    What do you think about my character and his powers?

  27. Ragged Boyon 29 Apr 2009 at 7:30 am

    Well, I don’t know much about his personality, but his powers seem pretty solid.

  28. TRISMEGISTUSon 29 Apr 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I changed my mind, instead of using possession. I’m think about use illusion instead. It’s more passive, but still can be used offensively as well as defensively

  29. Davidon 29 Apr 2009 at 12:31 pm

    My character Cara uses illusion magic in her battles as well as some elemental spells.

  30. Marissaon 29 Apr 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I like illusion a lot better. :D

  31. Davidon 29 Apr 2009 at 1:18 pm

    me to theres so meny tricks you can do with illusion lol

    speaking of cara “sound of footsteps going down stairs, car door opens and shuts, car speeds of, Airport, plane landing, car, room, computer
    type type type type type type :P

  32. Davidon 29 Apr 2009 at 1:19 pm

    reminds me Marrisa you not fogeting something lol

  33. Marissaon 29 Apr 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Nope I’m not. I’ve just been busy lately, I’m working on it.

  34. Davidon 29 Apr 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Lol, no rush. How’s the weather? And how’s your story coming?

  35. BlueBamferGirlon 29 Apr 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Hey, I just wanted to see if I could get some advice on my ideas for superhero characters.

    Element- control over all elements (water/ice, fire/lightning, air, earth/plant)

    Red Cape- force fields, telepathy (but only on inanimate objects), flight, energy blasts.

    Angel of Death- two swords (Death’s original weapons used to get souls), possession.

    Spark- nuclear blast of energy, takes in energy (in any natural form) expelled around her.

    Cat (I want to change her name, but can’t think of one that hasn’t already been used)- cat ears, heightened senses, claws (think Wolverine, only nails) and a tail for enhanced balance.

    Please let me know what you think.

  36. Marissaon 29 Apr 2009 at 8:12 pm

    David:

    The weather is awesome and I’m writing again after forever, so my story’s doing good too.

  37. B. Macon 29 Apr 2009 at 8:34 pm

    –I think Element could probably use a more exciting name.

    –Red Cape’s name is better but could also use some flavor.

    –Is Angel of Death supposed to be a hero? His powers and name seem kind of villainous. The first thing that came to mind was Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor that became known as the Angel of Death. On the other hand, archangels Gabriel and Michael have also been called AODs in a more positive way.

    –Instead of calling her Cat, I’d recommend something like a kind of cat. Lynx, Puma and Sphinx are already taken, but Manx, Usuri, and Keuda are available. Even if the name changes, though, this character sounds very similar to Catwoman. How will you differentiate her?

    –Across the board, I’d recommend fleshing out the personalities of the characters. In particular, I think Cat’s personality is important because her theme sounds so similar to Catwoman’s.

  38. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 30 Apr 2009 at 4:50 am

    “The first thing that came to mind was Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor that became known as the Angel of Death.”

    I did a project on him. The stuff he did was horrible.

  39. B. Macon 30 Apr 2009 at 5:25 am

    Ack. That’s kind of morbid subject-matter for a junior high school. When I was in junior high school, I think we were just assigned to do a presentation on any aspect of the war. I think 2-4 people did the Holocaust, 1 person did internment camps, and then it got more positive from there. (Well, as positive as a major war can be).

  40. Stefan the Exploding Manon 30 Apr 2009 at 5:46 am

    BlueBamferGirl (is that a Nightcrawler reference?), I’d just like to add to what B.Mac said earlier. It’s horribly cliche for a woman with “cat powers” to be a femme fatale, so maybe you could mix up her personality or even do a little bit of lampshading by playing with the fact that people expect cat-powered woman to be sleek and sexy. You could go the way of X-23. She’s a Wolverine clone with the same powers, but she’s even more of a robotic killer than he is.

  41. BlueBamferGirlon 30 Apr 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the advice. By the way, B. Mac, Angel is a girl. I know the powers sound kind of morbid, that was kind of the angle I was going for, because her powers relate to death, but her personality is bright for someone in her position; she figured she could either use her powers for good and help people, or give in to how they would think of her and be a villain. What would you suggest I use instead of Element? I can’t think of anything else that would be related to her powers.

    Stefan, yes, that is a Nightcrawler reference, thanks for noticing. And I hate to admit it, but I did make Cat the “cliche for a woman with ‘cat powers’, but I kind of made her like X-23 as well, because she is a killing machine, not really caring who she slices down to get to her target. But I do see what you mean, most people who would read it would probably think, “Oh, another sexy-crazy-killer with long metal claws”, and would put it down to find something more interesting.

  42. TRISMEGISTUSon 01 May 2009 at 7:52 am

    I would suggest something that would go good with her personality as well as her powers.

    Names:
    - Terra
    - Gaia
    - Titan
    - Wiccan

    This are my suggestions.

  43. BlueBamferGirlon 01 May 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I thought Terra was the name of a Teen Titan?
    I like Gaia though, does that mean something in another language?

  44. Davidon 01 May 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Gaia is the name for mother earth it was used in Capten planet and the planateers

    Gaia is goodess of the earth

    u also have Gaia the feirce knight in Yu-gi-oh

  45. Marissaon 01 May 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Wiccan was taken, too.

  46. Tomon 02 May 2009 at 3:29 am

    In Greek Mythology, Gaia was the Greek Titaness of the Earth, and in their creation myth she was the first being in the universe, born of Chaos. She created her huisband, Ouranos, the sky, and they gave birth to all the Titans, who gave birth to the gods etc. etc.

    She was one of the Titans who were considered ‘good’, whereas most of them were evil. So she has good connotations.

  47. BlueBamferGirlon 02 May 2009 at 6:46 am

    How about Nature, like a force of nature or ‘Mother Nature’?

  48. Gyaltsoon 07 May 2009 at 5:22 pm

    i play a pen and paper game that revolves around super heros in a comic book universe (silver age) and my current character is a psychic kinda forced me to start being very creative with my powers.
    opening decks of playing cards and having them dance around the villains face with telekinesis.
    using telepathy to create the image of a dragon, or even a car about to hit them.

    a good limitation for using telepathy to read minds is only let it work on surface thoughts so to get something from someone you must first find some way to make them actively think about it.

    a psychic works better as a support character in most aspects

  49. Chulanceon 09 May 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Hey B mac by transformations I mean another form for example saiyans from DBZ can become supersaiyan and Superman can fly into the sun to get extremly muscular and his powers on another level. Tenchi can transform into the omnipotent Kami Tenchi when in danger and Davis from Smallville can become Doomsday.

    Physic powers such as telekinesis can create a TK field for increased durability or complete immunity to physical harm.

  50. Eaceron 10 May 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I am making a psychic superhero and need some ideas for weaknesses for him. i am drawing blanks and its quite annoying

  51. Marissaon 10 May 2009 at 11:17 pm

    What kind of psychic power is it, Eacer?

    Is it the typical mind-reading? Or is it something like telekinesis? Or… wow, I’m drawing a blank, but there are plenty of other ‘psychic’ powers.

  52. Eaceron 11 May 2009 at 2:26 pm

    telekinesis is his primary power, he can also use telepathy and create some illusions if he has someone deep enough under his power.
    he is also from another dimension if that can play in for a weakness or two

  53. B. Macon 11 May 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Maybe his telekinesis’ aim isn’t very good. Or he needs a lot of concentration to aim. Or his telekinesis isn’t all that strong. Or the telekinesis only applies to a particular type of material (like Magneto’s metal or paper or garbage or whatever).

    With telepathy, I would recommend making his power indiscreet (so that the victim knows his mind is being read). That will force him to ration his power, which will reduce the potential for plotholes.

    You could do something like a weakness to sound or bright light. Either one of those would make it hard for him to concentrate, which I imagine would make it hard for him to use his powers.

  54. Holliequon 11 May 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Though I have nothing to add to this conversation, I think the fact I misread the title (briefly) as “Several Common Problems With Psychopath Killers” might amuse you. :P

  55. Asayaon 11 May 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I think one of the best ways to limit a psychic’s power is that each technique a psychic uses will take more concentration and use more energy.

    I also tend to think of psychics as stationery fighters (basically they don’t move much in battle) because they need to concentrate to exercise their powers.

  56. Eaceron 11 May 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I like the idea of being sensitive to sound.

    I’m using his telepathy so that he can only read surface thoughts. So if he needs information from someone, he has to find some way to get them to think about whatever he needs to extract from them.

    I might also add something along the lines of carbonated drinks completely inebriate him.

  57. B. Macon 11 May 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Hmm. I like your surface thoughts restriction, but there are some situations where it might not be enough to keep mind-reading from breaking the story. For example, Heroes once tried to weaken Peter by having his father steal his powers with a hug. But Peter’s a mind-reader, so he should have known that his father was up to no good. And presumably his father would have been thinking about how he was going to steal his son’s powers…

  58. B. Macon 11 May 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Those restrictions seem workable, Asaya. I particularly liked the one about standing still to concentrate.

  59. *i88*on 06 Jun 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hello. I have a character named Zero who is a psychic who doesn’t see the future or anything but can control your thoughts, mind read to an extent, illusion stuff, and telechineses. I have one weakness for her so far and that’s when she reads minds she picks up everyone’s thoughts which causes a lack of focus because a lot of voices are thinking over each other and when gets to a point of high emtional and physical stress/pressure, her powers go beserk and stronger. The last one can play as an advantage because she’d be a class six (in my world, the highest power classifactions on teh ESP scale [Energia Stabability and Projection).

    Any suggestions people you guys seem like geniouses to this field of help!

  60. Trollitradeon 06 Jun 2009 at 11:26 am

    Heya, *i88*! ^_^
    I like that your character is a GIRL named Zero.
    More often that not, the name is used for boy characters, so I thought it sounded cool.
    So far, I like the idea that Zero has to WORK to get information out of peoples’ brains, heh-heh.
    It seems WAY too easy for psychic heroes to just hop into somebody’s brain and find the EXACT information that they want.
    It’s hard navigating through your OWN thoughts, much less somebody else’s when the terrain is completely different.
    So having to weed through the jumbled, mass of conscious and subconscious thoughts of her victims could be really interesting.
    Especially if she’s reading the mind of an emotionally disturbed person.
    Maybe for a little while after connecting so closely with somebody’s mind, Zero can have the after effects of feeling suicidally depressed (if her victim is), or she must struggle with a nearly overwhelming hatred for “mankind” (if her victim was an angry pyschopath).
    So not only would she get one heck of a migraine or powerblast (powers going berserk) because of the stress, but AFTER her powers go a little nuts, she’d be trying to remember that the hatred or sadness or euphoria she’s feeling afterwards isn’t HERS, but somebody else’s…?
    Does any of that sound helpful at all for another “weakness” instead of ONLY high pressure?
    I really do like your idea of making her WORK for the thoughts she’s looking for instead of immediately finding whatever she needs.
    …Oh wait, now that I read what you wrote again, I think you meant she can’t “zero in” on ONE person’s thoughts, but she gets everybody in the room instead. xD
    Jumbled thoughts = group of people, not just one individual that she’s trying to read.
    Whoops…
    I hope this post is still sort of relevant, even though I misunderstood, haha. :)

  61. *i88*on 08 Jun 2009 at 6:46 am

    NO it helps I’m glad you like my concept. But she does have to jumble through sub conscience thoughts as well and I do hate it when a psychic just gets the answers so fast that it makes your head spin. It’s not fun when a superhero can kill someone by looking at them, psychics are so easy to make over powerful.

    I called this character “Zero” because I think she has “Zero Limits” with her powers but she doesn’t have enough control and focus to live to the codename she gave herself. She gave herself that name because people call her Zero because she’s short. Her super hero trio she’s in Fake (a shapeshifter who’s the cocky loser slacker, wise guy of the group) calls her ‘booster seat’ because she’s so short. Steel (metal manipulation and has a roug power to but can give others the power he steals) has to bend down to talk to her.

    Thanks for suggestions Trolli, I’m new to the superhero business.

    -*i88*

  62. *i88*on 08 Jun 2009 at 6:48 am

    Oh by the way, Zero’s powers go out of control because when she can’t focus on a thought or letting the emotional/physical stress get to her, all that energy has to go somewhere and it either hurts her or it goes around her in an out of control frenzy.

  63. BlueBamferGirlon 10 Jun 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Did anyone like the name Nature as a substitution for Element?

  64. *i88*on 11 Jun 2009 at 5:36 am

    I think it’s fly, what elements does your person namly control?

  65. M. Noiron 11 Jun 2009 at 12:18 pm

    BBGirl,

    I think your largest problem with finding a name for Element is that she’s well on her way to being a Mary Sue. Given the vast scope of her powers, you’re finding it difficult to pin down a distinctive characteristic to identify with.

    Consider picking one element (two at most, like Earth and Plant) and I think you’ll find it easier to name her and in so doing, the concept of her will crystallize.

  66. BlueBamferGirlon 12 Jun 2009 at 10:23 am

    @ *i88*
    she mainly likes to control earth and plants because it’s easiest for her, she has a kind of “back to nature save the planet” personality.

    @ M.Noir
    I know what you said id true, but I’va had this character in my head so long that it would be hard to change her, but it can be done and it would make things easier if I did, thanks for the advise.

  67. TRISMEGISTUSon 19 Jun 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I want to make the main character in my novel. A immortal, but I didn’t want them to be a vampire or a werewolf. I think using these would kind of being boring. So I decided to just make them a immortal race with no mythical background. Basically, they are just a race with a rare blood condition. Not many immortals are born because many of them die during birth because of the condition but there are some that have survived. Their blood turns blue when they reach their 18th birthday. They trade the mortallity for immortallity. They have enhanced strength and speed and some have mental powers. They simply have healing abilities. their pretty much the same as humans. Excepth for the blue blood and they live a lot longer. This Blue blood race have their own weakness to. 1) They can’t touch wrought iron.
    2) Oxygen is nesscary but pure oxygen is like CO2 to them. 3) While sunlight isn’t deadly to them, they can get sick to Ultraviolet radiation. *beware the UV lamps*

    so I just need some ideas. All comments are welcome.

    *Even the most unhelpful comments can spark great ideas*

    I am also having doubts about his precognitive ability. It doesn’t allow for much suspense. So any ideas, again will be helpful.

  68. BlueBamferGirlon 19 Jun 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Maybe when he has a vision (?) it can appear in a flash of rapid, chaotic pictures and sounds which causes him to have splitting headaches.
    And maybe he than has to pause a second to decipher what the images meant.

  69. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 19 Jun 2009 at 6:44 pm

    A note about the oxygen: pure oxygen is deadly to humans, too. We don’t filter oxygen from the air, we take in a mixture of gases but oxygen is the only helpful one. We just breathe the rest out.

    Maybe the visions are like possibilities that could happen, but won’t necessarily. Like what’s-her-name in Twilight.

  70. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 19 Jun 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Alice Cullen, that’s her name.

  71. BlueBamferGirlon 20 Jun 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Also, maybe the farther he looks into the future the more unclear the vision appears.

  72. Davidon 20 Jun 2009 at 5:02 pm

    a note about blood octupuss and squid have blue blood and apparently blue blood dousent carry oxagien well so they could easily suffocate

  73. BlueBamferGirlon 23 Jun 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I read somewhere that the blood in your veins is blue, and that it becomes red when in comes in contact with the outside air, like when you get a cut.
    Does anyone know if thats really true?

  74. Davidon 23 Jun 2009 at 12:53 pm

    i read its yellow but in House i think it was they said it was purpel when emptyed of oxagyen

    you see Iron turns red when in contact with oxagen thats why our bloods red
    Copper turns green Spiders blood is filled with copper

  75. Tomon 23 Jun 2009 at 12:53 pm

    There’s more to it than that. Deoxygenated blood (that is, blood without oxygen) is blue. When it becomes oxygenated (gains oxygen) it turns red. Your heart’s job is to pump the deoxygenated blood into your lungs so it can get oxygen, then to pump the oxygen-rich blood around your body to get the oxygen everywhere.

    I forget which one’s which but veins and arteries take blood to and from the heart. The one taking it to the heart has blue blood in it, the one taking it from the heart has red blood in it.

    tl;dr version: Kinda.

  76. *i88*on 01 Jul 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Blue Bamfer:

    For your plant hero, what about Thorn for a name?

  77. Marissaon 01 Jul 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Darn, I’ve got a Thorn. Here I thought I was being original. xD Or at least… unusual?

  78. BlueBamferGirlon 02 Jul 2009 at 7:38 am

    It is an original idea, but if you are already using it I’ll just stick with Nature.

  79. Marissaon 02 Jul 2009 at 7:57 am

    Oh, it’s no problem if you’d like to use it too.

  80. *i88*on 02 Jul 2009 at 8:31 am

    Marissa, sorry gal, I didn’t know I was fishing in your name pond.

  81. Marissaon 02 Jul 2009 at 8:45 am

    No problem at all, my name pond is huge. ;D

  82. B. Macon 02 Jul 2009 at 5:23 pm

    DC Comics already took Thorn.

  83. Marissaon 02 Jul 2009 at 7:24 pm

    By the looks of it, she’s a very minor character, plus she’s the wrong gender, plus my Thorn has powers, plus I’ve got a novel going rather than a comic book series, so I think I’m fine. :D

  84. B. Macon 02 Jul 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Hmm. I don’t know if you’re familiar with American Dragon, but Disney ended up changing the name of Thorn, a villainess/love-interest, to avoid legal issues with DC. And that was a TV show rather than a comic book.

    According to TV Tropes, the change was made after the first season had already been recorded. I imagine it would have been more than a bit of work to re-record the episodes… I doubt they would have made the change unless they felt the legal problems were serious.

    However, I suspect that these sorts of legal issues would probably not scare away a publisher that was otherwise interested.

  85. Marissaon 02 Jul 2009 at 8:32 pm

    American Dragon is a TV show. I almost see TV shows and movies more closely related to novels than comic books are, anyway.

    If it becomes a problem, I’ll change it. :)

  86. Marissaon 02 Jul 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Plus, American Dragon’s Thorn is also female, while it sounds like a masculine name. That may also have been a problem for them.

  87. BlueBamferGirlon 04 Jul 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Random, but…
    Happy Fourth of July! :-)

  88. B. Macon 04 Jul 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Not that random. Did you see my post today on how to grill hamburgers and hot dogs?

  89. BlueBamferGirlon 04 Jul 2009 at 3:13 pm

    No, but I will now.

  90. Jaruson 13 Jul 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Hmmm… Dunno if this constitutes a superhero story in the way you’re thinking, but it does include a psychic of sorts.

    I’ve been thinking of this story for a loooong time and developed a lot of characters quite far…

    The main character in my story is Jengo. He is a 16 year old male who has been hiding from a company he escaped from two years previously.

    Before being taken by the company he shows no signs of special abilities, even though in my story there are humans that do. after awakening from his capture, he finds a deep scar on his chest and shows distinct increase in his physical abilities, including an advanced strength, reflex and stamina growth, and a few mental techniques, including telekinesis, telepathy and an ability to manipulate energy.

    Since leaving the company he has learned to control very little of his telepathy, meaning whenever he tries to read minds, it comes up as a haze of random images, or just a sort of white noise.

    In order to explain where he recieved these abilities, I’ve created a whole back story for the company, explaining where they managed to get these abilities from.

    A scientist, yet unnamed, tries desperately to prove his theories of other dimensions exist. Together, he and two other scientists who believe his theories try to create a small rift in time and space, funded by the Nazi’s who were looking at all sorts of different and unique weapons. Needless to say, they succeeded, and come across a volcanic wasteland at the other end of the rift.

    To cut the story short, two come back torn to pieces and the originator of the disease has become host to a creature of pure evil… One of many evil creatures in the wasteland that turns out to be not another dimension but just another world.

    Basically the scientist starts a company whose hidden intention is the breeding of these creatures, and released in secret into the public, the creature’s secret plot starts to slowly overtake the world. They are bred in humans, but only the humans that have abilities because their bodies are strong enough to cope with the host, as they are more developed than humans.

    Jengo’s powers come from himself, but are strong because of the host. Jengo resolves to take the company down, along with the freedom fighters: a group of gifted people who have all been affected by the company, or the creatures they create. But there are a few more story features that I’d like to keep hidden…

    My problem is… I don’t know where to start the story.

    From Jengo’s POV explaining his daily on-the-run life? From the company’s view and their experiments? (which I thought was too dark to explain at the very beginning) Or from the freedom fighters’ view in an epic duel between the mage character and Random Employee No.1 who is horribly scarred from the company’s experiment on his lightning manipulation technique. Or another start if you can think of another?

    Also, I read through all of the posts, and the limitations I have on Jengo are thus:

    1. The strength he has is enough to lift a car off of himself, but people who have been implanted with a creature shows the same, maybe even more strength, depending on H.S.S. (Host to Symbiote Synchronization).

    2. His levitation ability is rather limited at the start, having only the ability to move objects as heavy as a sofa about.

    3. He is, however, very talented at random bursts of telekinesis from his hands, giving his “force push” ability quite some potency, but can leave him drained after just three uses.

    4. He has the speed and stamina to run at nearly 60 mph for nearly half an hour.

    5. His endurance means he can take a few heavy hits before hitting the deck. In the story, he is hit by a large falling forest tree and leaves with nothing but a couple of broken wrists, a large headache, and a big dent in his pride.

    6. His telepathy is hard to use. He cannot simply focus on a person and get into their mind. He enters what he calls their mindscape, which is different for every person. The one he enters in the story is a web of doors and picture frames. within the picture frames are moving pictures of what the person he is probing has ever remembered, each picture a different memory, so finding the one thought can take time, unless he makes the person specifically remember that memory, then the picture seems to glow with an ominous light.

    7. He has no ability to read the future and has a very limited extra sensory perception, which he can only use in a one on one fight, enabling him to rather distinctly tell what his opponent is going to do. This allows me to write some elaborate fight scenes, with a lot of switching around and changes in tactics, keeping it crisp and fresh, and in some ways, fair. Although this does give him a major advantage over your average Joe, which I’m kinda pondering about.

    Any helpful tips and additions you think would be useful for me would be good.

    Thanks…

  91. Jaruson 13 Jul 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Haha, I got a bit carried away. I didn’t mean to write an essay asking for help! :)

  92. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Hello Jarus!

    First and foremost, the question of where to start:

    1. If it were me, I’d try to explain how this all began. At least, have an opening (prologue of some sort perhaps) that focuses on the first time this rift opens, and the realization by the scientists of what they’ve discovered. I don’t think it’s too dark (though a penance for darkness, I has. *yoda, yo*)

    I would, as a reader, like to know what exactly could prompt your main character to go to a life on the run. Having a prologue that shows this dark/evil thing from another world would set the stage. I’d certainly not one to be near such a thing and could understand your main character running from it.

    2. If not that, then I suggest perhaps a flashback from your main characters POV about the day they escape. I’m sure it was monumental and breathtaking.

    Limitations:
    7-yes I see why you say Major Advantage. I would, if he’s gonna have this power, have him able to use this ability against the average Joe and no one else.

    For example, if he meets someone like him, they are evenly matched, which means he has to rely on his humanity rather than these powers he has.

    Now, for an average Joe (unlucky purse thief) he can easily best them, which gives him the ability to scare the underworld but those higher in power regard him as little more than an annoyance, if that.

    My two cents.

  93. B. Macon 13 Jul 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Here are some thoughts and suggestions, Jarus.

    Does he have special powers before getting experimented on? “Before being taken by the company he shows no signs of special abilities…” But the creatures are only bred in humans that have powers, right? If he does have powers, where did they come from? If he doesn’t have powers, why are they operating on him anyway?

    Have you decided whether this is a novel or a comic book? (Or something else entirely?)

    Even though the character doesn’t run around in capes or a mask, I’d probably classify it as a sci-fi superhero story. Still, that only matters when you start talking to publishers.

    What’s Jengo’s personality like? What will make him likable?

    Beginning points for the story. Personally, I’d recommend starting with Jengo and leading up to his capture by the company. I think that starting with the main character is generally the best way to create a coherent and interesting story. If you start with a character that isn’t Jengo, people will think that he’s the main character and will wonder who the hell this Jengo guy is. “But I was reading about the mage!”

    Host to Symbiote Synchronisation sounds a bit like mumbo-jumbo. I’d recommend coming up with something shorter and easier to understand. For example, “compatibility.” People that are more compatible with their symbiotes get more powers. Etc.

    He has a lot of powers. I’d recommend cutting out 2-3 that aren’t as important. For example, I don’t think he needs the ability to read what moves a fighter will use against him. In fact, fights will probably be more interesting if he has to guess.

    Other than that, this sounds pretty good. Would you like a review forum?

  94. FarawaySoulon 14 Jul 2009 at 4:42 am

    Speaking of the Invisible Woman rearranging body organs…

    -Barrier heroes can create shields in the middle of an enemy’s body.

    -”Laser vision” heroes can look around frantically, slicing through everyone there.

    -Telekinetic heroes can poke a villain’s eyes out from a distance.

    -Size manipulation heroes can become tiny, get eaten, and then expand.

    -Heroes with absolute persuasive powers (came out in Heroes) could do anything if they didn’t have the idiot ball ._.

  95. Tomon 14 Jul 2009 at 4:49 am

    You’re not thinking big enough with telekineses. A telekinetic could theoretically detach limbs. Gross eh?

  96. FarawaySoulon 14 Jul 2009 at 6:14 am

    Good point.

    Detach limbs, crush organs, pluck out the eye (thinking bigger), pull out the tongue… gah, I wish I didn’t mention this stuff now…

    A magnetist could float iron dust in the air, then blast it off at a foe, shooting tiny particles of iron into the enemy’s body. Then of course, the magnetist could rip the embedded particles outward…

  97. Davidon 14 Jul 2009 at 7:02 am

    snap the spinel cord in half to paralise the enamy u want a real look in to the power of telekineses watch rose red and push

  98. Tomon 14 Jul 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Don’t forget with magnetism what Magneto did in the third X-Men film. He pulled the iron out of someone’s blood (granted the guy had to be injected with excess iron first).

  99. *i88*on 14 Jul 2009 at 4:58 pm

    That was the second film Tom but that was pretty sweet

  100. BlueBamferGirlon 04 Aug 2009 at 2:02 pm

    and teleporters could just take the villian’s head off

  101. Tomon 04 Aug 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Teleporters could do a LOT more than that. You guys aren’t being creative enough! :P

  102. BlueBamferGirlon 05 Aug 2009 at 2:29 pm

    oh, I know, I just don’t want to make anyone sick :-)

  103. M. Noiron 14 Aug 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I’m thinking of writing up a protagonist with empathy and emotion control powers. Otherwise, he would be ‘a typical human’. Thoughts on pitfalls to avoid?

    My biggest concern is the on/off syndrome. Presented with the threat of violence, this hero could turn the attacker(s)’ feelings towards him loyal, or peaceful for instance. What I mean is, the power works, or it doesn’t.

    At the moment, I’ve limited his power to about 8 minute intervals, after which the fake emotion must be reapplied. I’ve also applied the limitation that while ‘under the influence’ the emotion feels genuine but when the effect wears off, the target realizes the feelings were artificial.

    I was also thinking that I could have the character use empathy as a lie detector, sensing the intent to deceive. That would only tell if a lie had been told, not what the truth was, though.

    Any other thoughts?

  104. Lavapulseon 14 Aug 2009 at 6:57 pm

    You might want to think about other possible limitations. Even if the fake emotion wore off after 8 minutes, if the character was able to reapply the emotion immediately that might still be too easy. Maybe there could be a sort of recharge time before (s)he can use his/her powers again, a limit to how many times it can be used on the same person, or each successive time the fake emotion is less convincing to the target?

  105. B. Macon 15 Aug 2009 at 12:27 am

    I agree with Lavapulse. In particular, I think that it’s a power that wouldn’t lend itself well to particularly interesting fight-scenes. Either the character can mind-control his enemies or he can’t. Either way, there’s little prospect for memorable (or perhaps even satisfying) fights. Perhaps he can only control one person’s emotions at once? It’d be sort of interesting to see how he escapes a small gang of mooks if he can only mind-control one of them.

    I think that eight minutes is a good time-span, but it might be more interesting if it couldn’t be reapplied afterwards. That forces him to keep moving, do whatever he needs to do with the person and find a new victim.



    Lie-detection can be problematic. It’s not as bad as mind-reading, but it sucks out some of the drama of lies and intrigue. It could be a major problem.

    There are usually three main pillars of most superhero stories.
    1) Action/combat–fights, chase scenes, etc.
    2) Investigation– what a superhero does when he’s trying to solve cases outside of action.
    3) Relationships– usually romance and/or teamwork.

    I think that the ability to detect lies will make it difficult to do #2 well. I wouldn’t recommend that unless you are very, very committed to running with #3.

  106. M. Noiron 15 Aug 2009 at 10:49 am

    Thank you for the well-considered responses.

    I can understand the reasons to limit his emotion control abilities to create more tension, but I have two main objections to the limitations you both (Lavapulse and B. Mac) have mentioned. One is stated above in the initial post at the very top: a psychic, stripped of his mental abilities is ‘normal’. Facing a super-powered adversary – one with few or no qualms about using his/her powers cruelly – the de-powered or limited psychic is going to get pulped very quickly. To say nothing of getting accosted by, say, 4-6 toughs with knives and pipes or be the target of a drive-by.

    The second reason is more about this kind of character in particular. If the character is empathic, it’s unlikely that he would choose to seek out violence as he’s going to feel every blow he inflicts on his attacker as well as the pain of any victims in addition to the personal pain being inflicted on him. I think a character like this is going to have a predisposition for tactics and tools that end fights quickly. (In other words, he’s the exact opposite of a psychopath. Instead of having no conscience about how he affects the world, he’s got a super-conscience.) (no pun intended)

    Other thoughts?

  107. Lighting Manon 15 Aug 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Have you considered expanding the character into a gadgeteer beyond his initial psychic abilities? If you did so, you could have limitations on his abilities without making the character too weak, and it could give the character a more unique appeal, since his non-fatal weapons would ideally be ones that used something other then pain or force to achieve their ends, which would rule out most of those dependent on pain to work, such as stun guns or sprays such as capsaicin which would allow you to be clever with them. Crowd control weapons would be relatively easy to come up with for this scenario, such as bolos or large nets.

    A character you could take inspiration from in comic books would be the only good Blue Beetle from DC Comics, Ted Kord. His primary weapon was a BB gun but he still took such precautions as to ensure that only he could use it.

    You wouldn’t even have to modify the character’s personality or behavior a great deal, no matter how it is, after all, even Rorschach managed to get a grappling hook from Nite Owl.

    Or, and this suggestion is slightly unusual, you could simply leave him with the liabilities that the limitations would bring. He shouldn’t be invincible, and him being weaker then the majority of heroes would be interesting, particularly if he succeeded in spite of it. Iron Man is a man with a heart condition without his armor, he is just as much, if not more so, likely to die from a drive-by or a six pack of hooligans as the rest of us and he gets along fine.

    There’s a sort of disconnect with abilities of that psychic of a nature, which in my experience lends to the most of audience seeing them more as tools then a part of him, and it frankly wouldn’t be as impressive if he could solve his problems exclusively with his powers, then if he was legitimately in danger and survived because of his intellect or resourcefulness.

    Doctor Who generally doesn’t just sonic screwdriver his way to success. he gets taken out of his element and survives by the skin of his teeth, or by the skin of the teeth of the actor that replaced him because he died a little in the course of the story. These limitations suggested would give you the power to do that without something as contrived as a power nullifier or a space flu.

  108. Lighting Manon 15 Aug 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry, first paragraph got a bit redundant, I fell asleep while I was writing it and forgot to check it before I moved on.

  109. M. Noiron 15 Aug 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you Lightning Man. That’s something else to think about.

  110. JCon 17 Aug 2009 at 2:21 am

    Hey, I’m new to superhero writing. I have an idea for an interesting story and was wondering what you guys think.

    My main character is a 17 year old boy going to a normal public school. One day, on his walk home from school, he finds a very old ring on the ground. He takes it and tries it on. The ring is from another dimension and gives the user powers. (There is a whole backstory to where the ring comes from and it turns out that the last owner is alive and wants it back, but the ring is only one out of many that are out there).

    Then when he goes to bed he has a dream explaining the ring to him (like what powers he has and limitations) explained to him by a “trapped soul” who has explained it to many people before him and has a special liking to him and tells him interesting things that he never told to anyone else. It’s hard to explain without giving it away. The ring infuses into him leaving a scar on the finger it was on. He thinks its all a “bad dream” and dismisses it… later he tries it out and kills someone in school by giving them a heart attack.

    Powers:
    1. He can control all matter with his mind (human organs, trees, water, objects, fire, basically anything)

    2. Able to influence the mind, but only on other regular humans. Basically only uses it on girls to get them to like him more. :D

    I’m planning on making him an evil character because he thinks he’s a god and can basically control all life. Later, an older superhero fights him and in the “after battle conversation” (you know, right before the loser dies), the hero changes his mind on how to use his powers. That is all just a huge sub-plot because the main one is the guy trying to get the ring back because the more rings you have, the more power the owner has. So that’s kind of why I need a limitation on the power of one ring compared to two.

    So, any ideas on limitations to add and possibly a name for the older super hero and the ultimate bad dude would be? (I’m thinking that he would most likely be some sort of demon since he is from a different dimension). And the other people with the other rings are going to have basically the same powers as the main guy depending on how many they have.

    Also, I read most of your comments. I’d love to read your novels/comics when you finish them– they all sound so awesome.

  111. B. Macon 17 Aug 2009 at 5:15 am

    Hello, JC. Here are some thoughts and suggestions.

    –The main character is a chosen one. He passively stumbles onto his powers rather than doing something to prove himself or develop his character. For example, Daredevil throws himself into the way of a chemical truck trying to save someone.

    –That main character could probably be better-developed. What’s his personality like? Why will people want to read about him? Does he have any defining traits?

    –The idea of the dream sequence explaining the powers seems kind of cheesy. It might be more effective to introduce another character to explain that through dialogue, or ideally have him discover it through trial and error.

    –Why does the guy in the ring like him better than any of the previous users? That strikes me as a variation on “shilling the Wesley“– when characters try to establish how awesome another character is by praising him. Usually not very effective. For one thing, what has he done to deserve that praise? Why is he being praised?

    –I think he’s kind of holding an idiot ball when he dismisses the dream.

    –The powers feel too broad to me. It seems to me that it will be difficult to do an interesting fight scene if you can just stop the other guy’s heart or whatever. Will you be able to do a fight-scene that lasts more than a page? I’d recommend narrowing the scope of the powers considerably. Maybe each ring has a different power and the incentive to collect more rings is to add more powers?

    –Not sure about the ability to influence ladies to like him. I think the main reason to add a romance is to appeal to female readers (guys usually hate romance)– but I couldn’t see women readers going for it here. I think Bruce Almighty handled this a bit more smoothly. One of the limits on his powers was that he couldn’t mess with free will, so he had to try to use his powers indirectly to win the girl. Drama ensued. That said, it doesn’t feel like the idea of going after women fits into this plot all that well, from what I can tell.

    –I’d recommend against using an evil character as the lead for a first-time novel. I don’t think he will be likable or particularly sympathetic.

    –Usually, stories about characters falling into villainy are more compelling when the character starts out as very likable, sympathetic or impressive. Those traits help readers care about whether he falls at the end. It doesn’t like he’s there yet.

  112. JCon 17 Aug 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Hey, B. Mac. Thanks for commenting.

    I’m sorry I didn’t have a lot of time to go into detail. I was pretty tired when I found this site.

    His personality is kind of like the MC in the anime series Death Note, where he is very smart about using his powers. I made him very likable because he thinks about everything and when he gets the powers, he does try to experiment right away on what he can and cannot do with them at an abandoned construction site. But at school he is just a normal teenage boy with friends and enemies.

    The “dream” (which I don’t know if I want to keep– I was thinking about having the soul just come out of the ring and talk to him) was inside his consciousness where he has a one on one conversation with the demon, asking questions and whatnot. I understand this is kind of “cheesy” but there were only so many ways I thought of before I started to write.

    And I forgot to add that the reason the demon takes a special liking to him is because he is the first “human” to wear the ring. All the others were from different planets in his dimension, and there is one ring to each of the different dimensions. The demon inside the ring is watching him all the time and when he goes to sleep he talks to him, letting him know other secrets like that there are more rings. (This does not happen every time he sleeps). Once he wears the ring he can eventually travel to other dimensions but I’m not sure whether to go that route or just have the others come to him.

    The powers I listed weere just all ideas about what he can eventually have. I do see how the heart thing could be way too overpowering but do you think it’d be okay to add that he has to concentrate really hard and that the people he’ll be fighting aren’t human (so he doesn’t really know how their innards work)? I think you’re right about narrowing the scope but what’s the limit for just one ring that grants him the ability to control stuff? I do like how he gave his “bully” a heart attack because I added a lot of drama between them and I think that the hatred between the two added to the ring’s power. That might help with making sure he just can t go around giving people heart attacks and how he starts out kind of renegade.

    Yeah the whole influence to the ladies is going to get thrown out. I tried to include it but found out it’s weird to include a “sex scene” in a book like this.

    The reason why i wanted him to be evil, or more “renegade” is that I think power would go to anybody’s head in real life, because no one can stop them. I was thinking he would use his abilities to do petty crimes at first, maybe if he got into street fights he wouldn’t care to finish the guy off or kill a couple cops to get away. I know that if i got powers tonight i would go steal that t.v. I’ve always wanted. ;-)

    I forgot to add that the ring amplifies his decisions (couldn’t think a a better word). Like every bad decision sounds less evil the more he makes them, and every good decisions sound more heroic the more he makes them, that’s why he is ably to change from evil to good. After the battle with (let’s call him) Batman, Batman’s powerful words make its way through the ring’s hold (because he is weakened by the fight) and lets him see what he has really been doing. Then he starts the high, difficult, road to being a hero.

    Now that I’ve explained a little bit more, do you have anything else to add or comment on?

    Thanks again.

  113. B. Macon 17 Aug 2009 at 11:50 pm

    “And I forgot to add that the reason the demon takes a special liking to him is because he is the first “human” to wear the ring.” Okay, what does the demon like about humans?



    “Yeah, the whole influence to the ladies is going to get thrown out. I tried to include it but found out it’s weird to include a ‘sex scene’ in a book like this.” Hmm, yeah. I think that would be rather creepy under the circumstances.

    “The reason why I wanted him to be evil, or more “renegade” is that I think power would go to anybody’s head in real life, because no one can stop them.” I think that’s very similar to the underlying concept behind Death Note. I feel pretty strongly that a corrupted hero will probably not work for a first-time author. It’s a difficult concept, the hero will probably face likability issues, and I don’t think there are many instances in which it has succeeded. All in all, I suspect that it will be very hard to get it published.



    I would recommend developing the character more. Some distinguishing personality traits will probably help a lot.

  114. RikuTomoshibion 31 Aug 2009 at 9:03 pm

    As far as “why doesn’t he just shut down his mind or something”, what if the villian has mental barriers to prevent that? And for telekinesis, maybe some kind of device that counteracts any foreign psychic entities? That would force the hero to rely on his own skills or his wits to survive.

  115. Lighting Manon 01 Sep 2009 at 12:42 am

    Riku, I am strongly opposed to power nullifiers for a lot of reasons, but ultimately, they’re no different the the much undermined Kryptonite, a weakness that I genuinely like. Before you start adding all the weird stuff like splitting him into two people, all Kryptonite does to Superman is weaken him to a level an author can manage or below. It’s a crutch that good writing can get around, but as much as I hate to admit it, it shouldn’t be called for to get around it, Superman shouldn’t need Kryptonite, I’d never support taking it away from the character, but he shouldn’t.

    Power nullifiers, if they exist in a continuity at all should be limited to plot devices, and they should hurt those affected by them. They should never, by any means be part of a character. If your character needs not have their powers to be threatened, then they’re too powerful.

    Of course, this just my poorly put opinion.

  116. GGon 07 Sep 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Hi,
    In this project I’m doing I need to come up with a name for my superhero.
    She can read minds, see through walls and is telekinetic.
    I also need help coming up with a weakness for her (For instance Super Man has kryptonite…)

  117. B. Macon 07 Sep 2009 at 8:24 pm

    A few thoughts…

    –What kind of mood do you want your story to have? Also, who’s your target audience? Obviously, a gritty sort of hero aimed at 20-somethings will probably have a very different name than someone who’s more whimsical and/or meant for kids.

    –I’m sort of not a fan of Kryptonite-style weaknesses (you can see my reasoning here, if you’d like). Again, I think that the mood matters. I wouldn’t recommend using a Kryptonite-like vulnerability to something random unless the story is likely to benefit from a bit of nostalgia that might feel a bit cheesy. It wouldn’t work in a gritty story and probably wouldn’t work in a mainstream action story (Spiderman, for example). Alternately, I think it’d be less of an issue in a comedy or something aimed at kids.

  118. GGon 08 Sep 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I was thinking about maybe making this for kids, but could you just shout out some names because I’m really desperate, thanks.

  119. Moondragon007on 24 Sep 2009 at 3:12 pm

    On [i]Heroes[/i] Matt Parkman can be surprized because he has to be actually concentrating to read someone’s mind. If he’s thinking about something else, a baddie can take him down. That’s how the bald guy managed to jump him and strap that bomb on him.

  120. Moondragon007on 24 Sep 2009 at 3:41 pm

    “Cat (I want to change her name, but can’t think of one that hasn’t already been used)- cat ears, heightened senses, claws (think Wolverine, only nails) and a tail for enhanced balance”

    How about the Cat Queen/Queen of Cats? I was gonna name a superheroine that; or, since she’s Hispanic, La Reina del Gatos. I don’t speak Spanish though; make sure if you use it to check the grammar with a Spanish speaker first.

  121. Moondragon007on 24 Sep 2009 at 4:01 pm

    “I’m thinking of writing up a protagonist with empathy and emotion control powers. Otherwise, he would be ‘a typical human’. Thoughts on pitfalls to avoid?”

    I wrote up a villainess like that; she has to be in very close proximity to – preferably touching – her victims to apply her “whammy”.

    Another all-purpose limitation I can suggest for any super is a whack with the stupid stick, or at least the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-at-the-time?! stick.

  122. Ribbiton 26 Sep 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Hellooo!
    Wow… this is a handy site. (has spent the past hour or so wandering around)
    Um… not to be bothersome, but I’m considering writing a story featuring a protagonist who can see the future. Any thoughts on problems that could arise with this, and if so, how to limit her ability? I’ve not been thinking about it long, but so far I’ve considered the idea that she can’t control when she gets the visions and when she doesn’t, the possibility that it’s painful to have the vision, or maybe that she sees dozens of random possibilities rather than one concrete event.
    Anyone got any ideas? All help sincerely appreciated. :D

  123. B. Macon 26 Sep 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Hello, Ribbit. Welcome to SN!

    I have a few concerns about prophecy. If the reader knows what is going to happen, it could ruin the suspense. Also, your antagonists would probably lose at least some element of surprise against the character (see item #3 in this article). It would be difficult to apply the power creatively. Finally, if this is a superhero story, I’d recommend powers that have more combat application.

    I like the idea of limiting this power, but not being in control of when the visions come is a bit weak. It erodes her ability to save the day of her own volition. It could also easily lead to contrivance. “Good thing I got that vision just in the nick of time!”, etc.

    Pain would be pretty simple and easy to work with.

    I really like the idea of seeing dozens of random possibilities. I think the explanation of why she sees dozens rather than one set in stone would be pretty interesting. (What she’s seeing is probably a variety of scenarios based on the choices she makes leading up to that moment). Also, you could create a sense of urgency by having the dozens of possibilities dwindle as the moment approaches.

  124. Wingson 26 Sep 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Hello Ribbit (Fun name by the way)-

    I also have a character who can see the future – however, she can’t control what she sees or when she sees it, and the clarity of her visions varies (at one point, she can only hear what’s going on). She can see things connected directly to her, her own future, or even random things which have nothing to do with her. This ability causes her to be thought insane by everyone with the exception of her sister.

    Tell us about your character. What are they like?

    - Wings

  125. Moondragon007on 27 Sep 2009 at 2:33 am

    Charmed, Dead Zone, and Medium take care of this by having the visions be brief flashes (or dreams) that are rather ambiguous till events put them into perspective. Allison Duvois (Medium) in particular is prone to misinterpreting her dreams.

  126. Ribbiton 27 Sep 2009 at 4:07 am

    Hello Wings. And thanks, I couldn’t think of anything actually ;) .
    I’m still sort of puzzling out her character. So far, she only really associates with her family. Quirky little ‘gifts’ as they call them, are common in their family, so they understand what’s going on, but don’t really know how to deal with it, because no one’s had that sort of power for a few generations. They’ve got their hearts in the right places, but they discourage her from going out in case she slips up and reveals what she can do. As a result, she’s madly curious about anything or anyone new, and quite reckless because she doesn’t think about danger. She’s quite booksmart, but if she was allowed to go out on her own and a random man invited her into a car, she might just think she’d made a new friend and jump in. Hm… intelligent and curious, but inexperienced and naive.
    Oh- and her name is Dru. I should perhaps have mentioned that earlier instead of constantly referring to her as ‘she.’ :P

  127. MacGruberon 31 Oct 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Hi ya’ll. Love the site. Lot of interesting information around here that has been helpful to me.

    Anyway, a few nights ago, I had a dream that I could suddenly turn invisible, “ghost” (walk through walls), and teleport at will. When I woke, I really wanted to do a story about a character who has the same powers.

    Here are his powers (the secret identity’s name is Christian Bridger):
    1. able to turn himself invisible to the eye (he bends light, which means that he still emits heat)

    2. able to “ghost” (basically, he can excite his atomic structure in such a way that he moves through the wall. Though the wall can’t be made out of dense materials (such as lead))

    3. able to teleport (not sure how this is accomplished, though I’m thinking it has something to do with the ability for his atoms to interact with the quantum pore structure of the universe, allowing him to teleport from point A to point B almost instantaneously)

    Some limitations I’ve thought up:
    - his powers don’t work in lead, being ultra-dense and being well-know to block out particles (so if he were locked in a lead-walled room, he’d be effectively powerless)
    - when he’s invisible, he can still be detected by heat sensor
    - in order to teleport, he has to see the place first (sort of like “Jumper”, only Christian Bridger can just look at a detailed picture and teleport to that place)

    So what I need your help with is:
    - Can anyone (who is scientifically minded) help be think of a plausible origin story?
    - Can anyone help me think of a good superhero name for this guy?
    - Are there limitations I haven’t accounted for or just didn’t include?
    - If anyone is interested, I need help fleshing out an archnemesis for this guy.
    - Is there any information I need to include that I’ve forgot?

    BTW, this guy is about sixteen, maybe a year older. Sort of like Spiderman in that sense. And I’m planning on aiming it at a teenage/twenty-something year old audience.

  128. B. Macon 31 Oct 2009 at 10:03 pm

    I’m not too worried about the origin story being plausible. I’d recommend focusing a bit more on an origin story that shows us something about the character. For example…

    –Static Shock survives the chemical accident without major deformities because he decided not to participate in the gang fight. This origin emphasizes his responsibility, I think.

    –Daredevil saves a woman from an oncoming truck. But he gets exposed to radioactivity that blinds him but heightens his other senses. I think this origin emphasizes his almost-suicidal bravery (after all, he is The Man Without Fear).

    –Spiderman’s is very interesting. For me, the origin story is less the radioactive spider bite (which is a random coincidence that has nothing to do with who Peter Parker is) and more his refusal to stop the criminal that goes on to kill Uncle Ben. This emphasizes negative traits, his irresponsibility and moral imperfection. It makes him unusually relatable and human. (For the record, I absolutely would not have stopped the criminal either).

    “Is there any information I need to include that I’ve forgot?” Personality? Key traits? (In the context of superpowers, it would make it a bit easier to develop an origin story that reinforces his key traits).

    So, as I suggested above, the plausibility of the origin matters less than what it shows about the character. However, plausibility always helps. To explain ghost like powers, I think you could use chemicals, nanotech, radioactivity/mutation, lab accident, a meteorite, experimental medical treatment gone awry, etc. I think only a few are unworkable here: “military test subject” and “Frankenstein’s monster” and there’d be some believability issues with genetic engineering.



    On a target audience level, I’m not sure age 16 works here. In most YA novels, the audience is maybe 0-4 years younger than the protagonist. (Old enough to be cool, young enough to be relatable/relevant).

    –I think it’d be very difficult to appeal to teens (13-19) and twenty-somethings (20-~25) with a single novel. 15 year olds often have very different tastes than 22 year olds. For the purposes of your target audience, I’d recommend going with either 13-19 or 18-30 and maybe you’ll score the other as a peripheral demographic. But I wouldn’t recommend mentioning the peripherals in the query because it’s not very likely that they’ll pan out. Based on the age of the protagonist, I think 13-19 is more viable than 18-30.

    –If he can teleport, is the ability to phase necessary? Not that I think 3 powers is too many for a sole protagonist– actually it seems quite doable.

    –I would recommend against allowing him to use invisibility in tandem with his other powers. So, for example, phasing or teleporting interferes with his ability to go invisible for maybe 15 or 30 seconds. Enough time to make things interesting if he runs into trouble.

    –I’ll hold off on the nemesis until I know a bit more about the character’s personality/traits/background.

    PS: I’ve heard a few times from agents and editors that they take poorly to stories inspired by dreams. Not a problem here, of course, but when you eventually query, I’d suggest not mentioning the inspiration.

  129. MacGruberon 01 Nov 2009 at 2:39 pm

    The mention of the dream was just an interesting tidbit for you guys. It won’t be included in the query.

    I’m thinking his nature is more investigative. A natural science lover, if you will.

    In fact, I’ve decided to change his age to 23 to have a more plausible origin story that, in turn, reveals something about his identity. Here’s the origin story that I just came up with:

    Christian Bridger, a college student who has an obvious interest in physics, finds himself as one of three student lab assistants to renowned physicist Dr. Maurice Bonifaz.

    Dr. Bonifaz is a world famous physicist, loved by the media (mostly due to his insulting brand of comedy (he insults fellow physicists to get laughts)). Consequently, he is hated by his fellow physicists. Colleagues not only hate him for his comedic style, but also for his “ludicrous” idea about the five types (not states) of matter. These, according to Dr. Bonifaz are: regular matter, anti-matter, dark matter, strange matter, and negative matter.

    Dr. Bonifaz classifies the kinds of matter based on their reactions to regular matter and to the so-called quantum foam of the universe. Dr. Bonifaz believed he could convert any kind of matter to another simply by bouncing a new kind of particle at any kind of matter.

    But Dr. Bonifaz was also extremely careful and was a firm believer in the strange matter apocalypse (a strangelet (strange matter atom) will convert regular matter to strange matter, turning Earth into a strange matter blob if a strangelet was ever let loose). While he believed he could actually convert any kind of matter to any other kind of matter, he didn’t pursue it, due to his superstitiousness.

    But Christian Bridger, who was a big fan of Dr. Bonifaz, wanted this theory tested. So one night, Christian stayed late at the lab and worked to try to create such a particle. During one of his attempts, intense radiation was emitted, but Christian had no knowledge of it. He just kept working.

    Suddenly, Christian collapsed on the floor of the lab, the particle accelerator glowing.

    In the morning, Christian awoke and the particle accelerator had stopped working in the middle of the night. Christian deamed the experiment a failure, and failed to let Dr. Bonifaz in on his late-night experimentation.

    The experiment isn’t really a failure though. As Christian soon finds out.

    Due to that age change (to 23), I’m thinking of just going for the 18-30 year old demographic.

    Something else to mention: Christian can’t use these powers at the same time. So he can’t “ghost” while he’s invisible or teleport while he is invisible.

    “Ghosting” (I assume that’s what you call phasing) is his most unlimited ability. It’s only limited in that he can’t phase through lead.

    Invisibility is limited in that he can’t conceal his heat signature and that someone could still bump into him, revealing his invisibility. And he can only remain invisible for twenty minutes every two hours. So he could turn invisible at 3:00 p.m., would become visible at 3:20, and not become invisible again until 5:00 p.m..

    His teleportation (which I may or may not keep) only works on himself. For example, he can’t grab a hold of a criminal and teleport him to prison. He can only teleport himself (that includes his uniform, but not anything he’s holding).

    One of his best friends, named Will Marshel, works as an intern for the local newspaper (Christian goes to Hapsburg University (fictional) in Manhatten (real)), so that’s how he get the interesting leads to investigate.

    His girlfriend, Hanna Carly, is studying to be a forensic specialist, her whole family being big on anti-crime. She is the first person Christian confronts about the accident, and she is also the first (and only) person who knows that Christian has these powers, besides Christian himself. In fact, Hanna is actually the person who came up Christian’s superhero name: Phase.

    It was largely due to Hanna’s urgings that Christian had decided to become a superhero. Though Christian had never considered becoming a villain anyway (Christian is (and this is not the reason his name is Christian) a devout Christrian, so he’s got a religious motivation for avoiding criminal activity and going for heroic activity. Hanna was just the extra nudge that pushed him to become a hero).

    So, a few words about Christian/Phase’s personality:
    - He is quite religious
    - He is a man of science, and sometimes religion and science clash in his mind (he’s a firm believer of evolution, but he also believes in God, so sometimes he’s got massive debates in his head). Sort of a dual personality
    - He is extremely investigative, sometimes to the point of irrationality
    - He is obsessed with the saying “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Sometimes, because of this mentality, his girlfriend has to confront him about the double-edged sword of justice (not only do villains need to be brought to justice, heros may need to be brought to justice as well)
    - He has a large ego, believing he can do things no one else can. This is what caused him to try the experiment which gave him his powers
    - He does have a soft spot for people who can’t defend themselves, which, to his ego, is almost everyone
    - He is quite intelligent, able to understand difficult concepts and think logically, though he can think creatively
    -He is about six feet tall, thin, but has good upper body strength, due to spending most of his life on a farm in Kansas

    Does that help? Are there still any problems or things you’re in the dark about?

    I’d be happy to tell you or tweak my hero based on constructive criticism.

  130. chaos amoebaon 02 Dec 2009 at 12:14 am

    @MacGruber

    Would you perhaps consider something that isn’t “farm in Kansas”? It sounds a bit cliched and gives a pretty generic initial impression of him being religion. Just a shift in location would do really interesting things, such as…

    … farm (plantation) in Alabama with possible implications on religion/discrimination?
    … ranch hand from Montana with possible implications on how he became obsessed with eye for an eye (dealing with coyotes, …)?

    Or you can change the profession to something different, e.g., mechanic’s son.

    Keep in mind that when you say he’s from a farm from Kansas, you suggest quite a bit about his childhood. I suggest that if you think about anything formative that you may want to have had happened in his childhood and build his “x from y” information from there (e.g., preacher’s son who used to be the “good kid” to his troublemaker older brother w/some associated guilt due to parental preference). To be honest, he can gain upper body strength from anywhere, but picking up things like religion, an investigative spirit, an ego, etc. aren’t quite so easy to come by and merit more attention.

  131. chaos amoebaon 02 Dec 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Your character framework is intriguing and I was thinking of a back-back-story for your character which neatly packages his religion, scientific nature, investigative spirit, and ego… all this, from thinking about Kansas.

    So, say he is the middle of three siblings, the son of a preacher and a now-deceased mother. His older sister was rebellious, an avowed atheist and avid scientist and several years (say 7) older than Christian. His younger brother was only 11 months younger and they looked so similar in appearance that they were often thought of as twins. Both Christian and his brother look up to both his father and sister and try to reconcile them; however, Christian is less confident in intervening, while his younger brother is (over-)zealous and tries a lot of ineffective ways to get the father and daughter to get along.

    When Christian was about 10, there was an incident where his younger brother asked his father and his sister to meet with him in a park or field between his school and their house for a surprise. Neither father nor sister know that the other was asked, and when they both arrive in the park they are initially surprised to see each other (but quickly realize it was one of the younger brother’s attempts to get them together). They wait around for him to show up, but he doesn’t appear and when they go out to look for him, they find him dead, run over by the side of the road.

    In the aftermath, while neither father nor daughter outwardly blame the other, you can tell that inwardly, deep-down, they can’t help but feel the other is responsible. Not only that, but they both argue about the meaning of his death from their respective perspectives. The younger brother, in his death, inadvertently caused the rift between father and daughter to become permanent. The one thing that unifies the two is that they both end up moving on: the father accepting the young brother’s death as the will of God and the daughter as a chance act in a meaningless world.

    Here’s where our protagonist comes in. As mentioned, he looks up to both his father and sister and so believes both in his religion and science — however, unlike the two, he refuses to accept the death of his brother and is not pacified by either religious or chance arguments. He is young, so he can’t do much about it, but this refusal to accept his brother’s death fuels his investigative fire and also leads him to adopt some of his brother’s mannerisms and ultimately his brother’s ego.

    Forward to his college years and you can keep your origin story, but perhaps add a little nuance. Some “crackpot” religious nut believes that the scientist’s attempt to change the type of matter is actually swapping matter across dimensions, and, in particular, versions of Heaven and Hell. Christian and his professor discount this guy’s ideas as hogwash, except, deep down, Christian wants to believe it to a certain degree and its part of the reason why he’s interested in matter transformation… and so on.

    As far as nemeses, you have a variety of angles to go on. While the brother’s death is an accident (and should be introduced as such), you could easily turn it into something planned and the nemesis can stem from there. Or it can be an accident, but the hit-and-run driver is not remorseful. Or, the dead brother could be the nemesis and be residing in Christian (somewhat cliche, but you know) which could be dramatized further if this matter swapping theory is true (because now the brother is actually swapping into Christian’s reality).

    The nemesis alternatives above work in part because they depower Christian in a number of ways (that doesn’t just involve locking him in a lead box). Either they are unidentifiable; they cannot be defeated (e.g., for a non-remoreseful mere mortal, what is a Christian hero to do?); it’s in him; …

    Plus if you add the matter swapping angle, it makes the phasing/invisibility/teleportation abilities more cohesive (i.e., one phenomenon can largely explain them all, Christian is plane-shifting). Furthermore, if you take the “alternate planes include the place where the deceased go” then you also build in another potential limitation on Christian’s powers — the consequence of his plane-shifting is releasing something form another dimension. Which is particularly risky if there’s something from that dimension (his brother?) that wants to get out…

    Alright, just wanted to pass the ideas along — I do dull stuff all day, so it’s fun to think outside those confines. Thanks!

  132. Hawkfire101on 08 Dec 2009 at 5:47 pm

    My character is telekinetic and also skilled at martial arts, so she has another weapon if the telekinesis fails her. Also, she has wings on her back, so she can fly.

  133. PaintedSainton 08 Dec 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Hawkfire101:

    Hm, somewhat reminiscient of the ‘angels’ in James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. A motley crue of children, previous government experiments, with spliced genes. Part human, part bird. And they also can do martial arts, and I’m sure one of them has mind powers. I haven’t read the series in a long time, but then again, I never liked the series.

    I don’t really understand how martial arts, telekinesis, and flying all go together. Care to explain the plot a bit more?

  134. Nazgulon 08 Dec 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Maybe it’d work better if you removed the wings and applied the telekinesis creatively to the character; utilising a bit of telekinetic force, she can increase the strength and speed of her punches and kicks (see the film Push for an example), and the wings aren’t necessary for her to be able to fly. If you have telekinesis, that means you’re capable of imparting kinetic force, which means that you should be able to fly by simply utilising it.

    Newton’s laws of motion state quite clearly that ‘to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’.

    The translation of this is that by using telekinesis, you can impart kinetic force below you, or create something of a kinetic drag away from you, which thus carries you through the air. Thus; flight of a ‘Superman’ style. It’s actually a whole lot more efficient than wings on a scientific basis because the energy requirements for an ordinary human-sized (and, to an extent, shaped) mass to achieve winged flight basically make it rather awkwardly difficult. That isn’t to say that you *can’t* use it, and I’ve personally used winged-humanoid flyers myself in a few areas; if we were letting science get in the way, telekinesis would be right out from the start.

    Of course, you can also mix them up. Have it so that the wings obey actual genuine scientific principles, and make it so that most of the *actual* flight is telekinetic, with the wings being used to aid with steering and aerodynamics. My ultimate tip is for you to remember that powers can often open more options than just the ones that are written on the tin.

  135. ECGon 26 Feb 2010 at 5:37 pm

    hello there!
    im writing a book and need some advice…
    i have two main characters both with super powers but they are not super heros, they dont fight evil or have secret identities.

    Katherine has telepathy and has sporadic visions of the future but only if they are important to her (ex. she has a dream/vision of where her best friend is buried bcuz her friend went missing). Both her powers are new to her and she cant control them well so they are both random and dont happen excactly when she wants them to.

    Iza has telekinesis but can only move the object if she can see it and must be able to move her hands and she has also trained her eye to see fast moving objects in slow motion

    Neither of my characters want powers and only use them if necessary…They also wont be using them to fight other super people just average humans but the humans will have weapons(guns and knives)

    Are my characters limited enough or too limited???
    Im not really sure how long the fight scenes should be either so all advice is welcome

  136. Contra Gloveon 26 Feb 2010 at 5:58 pm

    ECG, regular human villains can work if your characters are vulnerable to mundane weapons, so don’t worry about that bit.

    As for the powers, Iza’s is fine but Katherine’s is problematic. If she can see the future, she can see the outcome of a given battle or ordeal; therefore, there isn’t much to challenge her.

  137. RPG-92on 30 Mar 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Ahhhh great, now I’m skrewed. Can hereos have the same name? I wanted to name my hero Zero too.

  138. B. Macon 30 Mar 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Submit it to a publisher and then you’ll know. My guess is that a publisher wouldn’t reject you because the character’s name was Zero.

  139. Mike Alexanderon 06 Apr 2010 at 1:13 pm

    i have a few characters that are out & out psychic, in the traditional sense:

    Entity seems to control poltergeists that help her fight crime.

    Mirage can make someone see what she wants.

    Sentient is based on the idea that we only use 10% of our brains (actually not true, disproved some 20ya), but his brain has evolved all the way to the end of the line before the next species transition (homo sentiens). He can levitate/fly, read minds, invent stuff, see past and future, etc. He has a restriction not to read minds without someone’s consent, similar to Saturn Girl or Martian Manhunter.

    Control is one of my favorites, a super telekinetic. His powers develop over time, from being bullet proof and super strong, to eventually being able to bring down a skyscraper. The thing about him is that he is prejudiced against people with abilities, and resents that he is one of them.

    I’ve also been toying with the idea of a universe where most people are psychic, where their daydreams interact with each other.

    I think from a technical standpoint, most external powers are psychic (excluding magic, technology, or wings). I’m using the term as a catch all, but to fly, you have to either “push” off from the ground, or manipulate gravitons to negate your planet’s pull. Fire would come from exciting air molecules to the point of friction; ice would be slowing them down until they stopped moving. Super strength might be another form of TK. Most elemental abilities would fall under this, too, wouldn’t they?

    I juxtapose that with internal powers: Spiderman is DNA change, as are Bouncing Boy or Plasticman. Most of the LSH would fall under this too, for their respective species.

    Sorry, I come from a scientific background, and think about the way the world works too much.

  140. hopefulon 27 May 2010 at 9:41 am

    It’s O.K so do I
    To me using pyschics is an easy way out of being able to explane powers. If you think hard enough you can explane even the most tecnal of powers.
    Here’s an an example. My superhero Stronghold can fly by using his bones that are now super-condoctors that repell all lines of magnetic force. All you have to do is to fuge the line a little to where it is real but not obivously fake

  141. B. Macon 27 May 2010 at 10:52 am

    At one point, I think Superman’s ability to lift a skyscraper without wrecking it was explained by his innate telekinetic powers. I suspect that readers would accept it without too much eye-rolling.

  142. Tennwriteron 04 Jul 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I had one of my players use mental illusions to….

    convince the dive-bombing supervillain the ground was fifty feet below where it was….after the flying villain smacked into the ground and knocked himself out…the villain then was subject to a second illusion…this one that he met God the Judge who was willing to send him back for a second chance.

    And so the villain decided to turn on his former teammates, and help out the superheroes.

    Mental illusions, if you know how to think clever, can do all sorts of really neat tricks.

  143. B. Macon 04 Jul 2010 at 2:47 pm

    “I had one of my players use mental illusions to convince the dive-bombing supervillain the ground was fifty feet below where it was. After the flying villain smacked into the ground and knocked himself out, a second illusion convinced the villain that he met God the Judge, who was willing to send him back for a second chance. And so the villain decided to turn on his former teammates, and help out the superheroes.”

    Haha, that’s clever. ;-) It feels sort of plausible, too, particularly if the villain isn’t 1) particularly intelligent or 2) fanatically self-assured. (I assume that a very intelligent villain would be more skeptical of his senses if he was in a fight with an illusionist, and I doubt a brief conversation with God would have much effect on anybody as wildly self-assured as most megalomaniac supervillains. (On the other hand, being too self-assured would probably leave a villain particularly vulnerable to the first illusion).

    I wonder how it would play out with a religiously-themed villain. It’d probably be an interesting scene. I’m reminded of something one of my philosophy professors said in class two years ago… He once spoke with an atheist philosopher that had a near-death experience. But instead of the standard “tunnel of light,” he felt hot and claustrophobic. It didn’t persuade him to reconsider his atheism. (To be honest, I consider myself just as attached to theism).

    If I were a villain in a powersuit, I’d probably put it on autopilot during a fight against a mental illusionist. You can mess with my mind, but good luck taking out my GPS uplink!

  144. Hopefulon 06 Jul 2010 at 11:28 am

    I have a telakenetic who’s limatation prevents im form affecting any thing with an eletrical charge, meaning that he cannot affect living animal mater( all cells have a slight eletrical charge) that way it is not blantianly obivious that he cannot affect the vilian but can till affect organic matter. Is this a good limitation. By the wy you need to see if you can get spell check on this thing

  145. B. Macon 06 Jul 2010 at 12:22 pm

    The WordPress theme I use gives us a spell-checker, but it only works for registered users. You can register for free here.

    Here’s what the spell-checker looks like on my computer…
    Superhero Nation Spell-Check



    I find the electrical charge restriction to be interesting. Also, a savvy villain might be able to exploit it by setting up rooms that are slightly charged.

  146. Hopefulon 06 Jul 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Thans I’ll need to do that

  147. Hopefulon 06 Jul 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I ment to put a K in there

  148. Bronteson 06 Jul 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I have a character who is able to reverse engineer objects by means of psychometry and tactokinesis. He is then able create another object with a different funtion by combining other things. This can be handy in battle but it’s time consuming so he must prepare beforehand in most cases. He has a the secondary (sort of) ability to destroy things by leaving them mid process but he has the compulsion to finish everything. Also, his powers are never off while he’s awake, meaning he is always cautious with touching things and thus, he is very reclusive. His powers activate even when touching people (and that isn’t very pretty). Should I include more limitations to his ability?

  149. B. Macon 06 Jul 2010 at 1:25 pm

    “His powers activate even when touching people (and that isn’t very pretty).” So he can disassemble people? That is pretty gross… Grossly awesome! (However, depending on the age and tastes of your target audience, it may be worthwhile to keep the people-disassembly to a minimum).

    “I have a character who is able to reverse engineer objects by means of psychometry and tactokinesis.” Will he be able to put these powers to impressive/creative use?

    At the risk of suggesting a significant plot change, I sorta think this character might be more interesting if his abilities weren’t supernatural. For example, instead of having a supernatural ability to glean information by touching something (psychometry), maybe he’s REALLY observant. For example, instead of having a Coke bottle tell him that the drinker recently left his house, he tastes the Coke and notices that it’s still fizzy, which means that the drinker was there fewer than 30 minutes ago.*

    As for the tactokinesis (control over touch?), I think you could just make him an incredibly gifted engineer/inventor able to disassemble things and make new ones. (One advantage would be that you wouldn’t have to explain what tactokinesis is–I put it into Google and didn’t get any results).

    I think this sort of skilled work would be more impressive than him just using a superpower he happens to have. Or maybe he uses his superpower(s) in clever and awesome ways.

    *There are TONS of indicators like these. For example…
    –If some of the light bulbs are off but still warm, that suggests that they were turned off recently.
    –If there are droplets left in a sink or shower, that suggests that someone ran the water recently.
    –If something highly perishable like milk has been left out but hasn’t gone bad, it’s probably only been sitting for at most a few hours.
    –If the mailbox is empty, someone was probably at the house in the past few days.
    –If there are animals at the house, a full food dish would probably indicate that the dish was refilled recently.
    –Depending on the weather, he may be able to glean some information from tracks in the snow or mud.
    –Depending on the weather, he may be able to determine whether mud tracked into the house is recent or old. (Recent mud will be wetter).
    –If a computer has been used recently, it will probably not have its screensaver on. (Obviously, it would help to check whether the computer has a screen-saver and how long it takes for it to activate).

  150. Bronteson 06 Jul 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Yeah, this would work better. As for the tactokinesis thing I didn’t know the right name. I read somewhere it is (or something like it) what grants Superman his strenght and invulnerability.

  151. Bronteson 06 Jul 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Oh, and the psychometry was sort of to explain why he could create a jetpack out of a microwave and a car, but nothing a little education won’t fix. It doesn’t hurt either that he lives in a very technologically advanced civilization.

  152. Roon 07 Jul 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Brontes I think you were talking about tactile telekinesis.

  153. Bronteson 07 Jul 2010 at 4:51 pm

    That too, Ro. Thanks!

  154. B. Macon 14 Aug 2010 at 9:14 am

    Good eye! The URL also refers to it as 8 problems. I originally wrote it with 8 but later merged two.

  155. Herojockon 28 Nov 2010 at 3:31 pm

    What about villains? Do you think they are given more leeway by fans and publishers?

  156. B. Macon 28 Nov 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I think it’s easier for a villain to overcome these obstacles.

    For one thing, a villain usually doesn’t have as many fight scenes or screen-time, so his powers don’t need to be as versatile. There’s less opportunity for his powers to get stale.

    Second, generally I think a mind-reading hero threatens the drama more than a mind-reading villain does. Except for secret identities, heroes usually don’t have that much to hide. In contrast, the heroes usually spend most of the story not knowing what the villain is planning, or perhaps even who the villain is. It’s rare for the heroes to find out the villain’s grand plan significantly before the climactic struggle.

    “Why doesn’t he crush her windpipe?!” It’d be much less of a problem if a villain crushed windpipes or otherwise MAJORLY ruined people with his powers. (For example, see Darth Vader and Freddy Kruger). Heroes rely more than villains on the audience’s approval.

  157. CarrieZ.on 24 Dec 2010 at 9:45 pm

    So I wanted to throw my character out there and see if he seems to work. I think he will but I wanted to check:

    He has an empathic ability. He can sense the feelings of those around him and can even take on the feelings of the person as well which is a great risk to him because he can loose himself. He can pick up thoughts on a very limited level if a person thinks directly at him he can pick up that thought, especially so if the thought is ‘yelled’. He can work hard to get maybe a few other thoughts but it takes a lot of focus and work. He suffers from headaches when using his abilities too much.

    He also has the ability to make suggestions, he can’t fully control a person but he can encourage thoughts and ideas. He’s a street performer and if a person stops to give him a few bucks he can encourage the person to give him a fiver rather than two ones, particularly if they are wavering between the two options. (He doesn’t know what they are wavering between just that they are having some doubt.)

    Additional facts is that other charters with abilities can effect him like another “mind reader” can amp up his ability to levels he’s not experienced before but it tends to be too much and then if a person has the ability to push an emotion he is consumed by that emotion and can loose himself in it. Also when he is sick like with a head cold his abilities are rendered mute, and when he sneezes his mind “explodes” for a few seconds with the sounds and emotions around him and it is rather painful.

  158. B. Macon 25 Dec 2010 at 12:23 pm

    What do you have envisioned for the plot? (What’s the character’s main objective? What’s the main obstacle?)

    He definitely wouldn’t be overpowered for combat, but I get the impression that combat probably won’t be the core aspect of this character’s story.

  159. CarrieZ.on 25 Dec 2010 at 4:28 pm

    It’s more of a general fight for rights, there would be some combat but certainly not the focus. The main character is trying to encourage others with abilities to join him in having said rights. I know it treads near X-Men a bit and even Heroes but I’m thinking if done right it can be it’s own thing.

  160. B. Macon 25 Dec 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Hmm, okay. If the main character’s role is more to convince characters to join the fight than to actually fight himself, I think his powers will be easier to work into the plot. (However, I would note that all of the major characters in X-Men and Heroes have powers that have some combat applications. One way you might be able to work in his powers into combat would be to have him face off a wavering combatant, like a bank robber that grabbed an incidental hostage, or averting a conflict with some other person/group that isn’t 100% committed).

  161. aravindon 03 Mar 2011 at 10:38 pm

    hey, cool site
    can somebody help me if about which power should a give my super villian
    his characteristics are he’s cruel ,he’s mean and he’s smart and doesnt hesistate from killing cause his whole family was killed in a superhero battle and he is literaly hell bent on revenge
    and i m wishing for a more magic like power rather than technolgy based like iron man

  162. Nicholas Caseon 04 Mar 2011 at 5:10 am

    Um…that’s about any super power…I can’t recommend one because your villain sounds like every other one I’ve seen.

  163. Ghoston 04 Mar 2011 at 7:05 am

    Aravind,
    It might be interesting to give your villian no superpowers. You could make them like an evil batman, rich, powerful, and super detetrmined.

  164. cageon 04 Mar 2011 at 7:44 am

    speaking of villians can any give me a good origin for a unique and cool villain

  165. Nicholas Caseon 04 Mar 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Cage…I believe I need a little more explanation of how you want it before I go on a wild goose chase to make you one.

  166. Ghoston 04 Mar 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Cage,
    I agree with nick. It would help everyone if we had a better idea of what you were going for.

  167. cageon 05 Mar 2011 at 12:16 am

    ok ghost,
    i dont want to make a typical hero story
    villain gets the girl, hero saves her happy ending
    i want a total reverse the villain wins, like a guy fed up with good guys and wants to prove that nothing is pure
    ..
    .
    .
    .
    not a psycho but still crazy and determined enough

    hope that this is of any help

    if not u can always change the character

  168. cageon 05 Mar 2011 at 9:02 am

    like a guy who wants to prove that in order to gain world peace sacrifices are aways necessary and thinks that by killing he is actually he is actually helping the world

  169. Castilleon 05 Mar 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I just had this awesome idea for a quip involving a psychic hero.

    Maybe he doesn’t really believe someone can change or has changed… so he gets in their head and does a full on possession.

    Then… he gets a full blast of remorse and regretful memories from the person. Which incidentally is so powerful it forces him out of the body.

    Also, the ‘host’ gets a return ‘feed’ in their head… of all the crap that said hero has been through from the beginning of the story.

    …Which leads to this comeback from the ‘host’.

    “I just had to see the whole horror show of my entire existence all flash before my eyes. Coupled with that; the music of your sphere was driving me crazy.”

    A pause….

    “I’m cured all right.”

    ….Is that too much of a ripoff? I like to include references in my work, even more so when they tie in directly to powers.

    This one’s a bit well known…am I being too obvious?

  170. B. Macon 06 Mar 2011 at 12:44 am

    I don’t think I’m familiar with the reference. Also, I wasn’t quite sure what the character meant by “The music of your sphere was driving me crazy.”

  171. Cageon 06 Mar 2011 at 3:02 am

    Please someone reply to my above comment

  172. B. Macon 06 Mar 2011 at 3:32 am

    Cage: “Speaking of villains, can anyone give me a good origin for a unique and cool villain? I don’t want to make a typical hero story where the villain gets the girl and the happy ending where the hero saves her. I want a total reverse: the villain wins, like a guy fed up with good guys and wants to prove that nothing is true. Not a psycho, but still crazy and determined enough.”

    Personally, I feel that I’m a lot more useful offering incremental improvements for existing concepts and characters than suggesting completely new stuff. It’s a lot easier to come up with something that fits your style if I have some examples of your style to work with.

    I would recommend against outsourcing something as major as the concept for the villain (particularly if he’s the main character) to someone else, particularly to people that know very little about the rest of the story. I think the strongest villains are well-tailored to fit into a story, provide a suitable obstacle to the protagonist and his goals, fit the mood and style of the story, etc. I don’t feel that I know enough about what you have in mind to suggest anything helpful. (I could throw out a few possible combinations for villain/protagonist/conflict, but they’d almost assuredly fit my writing style better than yours*).

    *Case in point: The premise for The Taxman Must Die is that two unlikely Homeland Security agents, an accountant and a mutant alligator, must stop a deranged cosmetics designer from destroying humanity. It’s a very unorthodox approach to a superhero story, but it has several elements that fit my style well (wacky comedy, detective aspects, characters badly out of their comfort zone, etc).

  173. Cageon 06 Mar 2011 at 5:39 am

    Okay here’s my idea
    The story starts 20years before the current times
    Their a teen who always wanted to be a superhero (I mean like protector of justice ,and peace bringer)he was always full of life but one day while passing through a street with his parents they are attacked by a robber who kill his parents and run away.
    But during his trail somehow w the robber due to his links is not punished and the guy is sent to his uncles.he looses his will to live and starts living very quietly and is always teased by bullies some years pass by but his wounds never heal and starts thinking that their are no real superheroes
    But once while passing through a construction site he finds an old box birdied in some dirt he picks it up and asks whose it was buT no body responds so he takes it home he opens it and finds a old but beautiful ring as soon as he touches it the ring attaches itself to his finger he is unable to take it out
    First he is pissed but later sees that his abilities have increased greatly he becomes more smart more power ful and even more fast
    So one day while passing through the same construction site he notices that he is being followed by some one wearing a similar ring as his
    Stalker finally catches the guy and tells him that the ring he has is special and grants the user some powers like he has the power to create inorganic substances out of thin air but apart from this every ring has some different powers but one thing is common the ring increases the wearers previous skills many folds .
    Guy learns that he has the power to control machines and technology
    Guy with the help of Charles aka stalker decides to fight crime so the thing happened to his parents will never happen again time passes the guy enters his twenties and moves out but soon starts fighting crime due to the fun of beating criminals rather than in order to maintain peace soon he becomes more and more brutal and away from the people one day he catches the robber who killed his parents and brutally beats him to death he enjoys his powers so much that it slowly corrupts him . While Charles is unable to do something time passes and the only thing stopping him from attacking innocents was his disappearing sense of justice but it vanishes and he becomes a villain himself hell bent on Saving the world even if it meant world domination.
    Meanwhile Charles suddenly dissappers

    .
    .
    Current time -a guy finds another ring like before the difference is he is destined to save the world rather than destroy it

    Please suggest names and powers for the new guy and future plot

  174. Cageon 06 Mar 2011 at 5:44 am

    Their may be lot of grammatical errors

  175. B. Macon 06 Mar 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Some thoughts and suggestions, Cage.

    –If this story is about the failure of traditional superheroes, one thing that may help is working a traditional superhero into the death of the parents. For example, perhaps a block or two away from where the robbery was taking place, a superhero was engaged in a superpowered brawl with a supervillain and wasn’t available to stop the boy’s parents from getting killed. I think something like that would help explain his bitterness. (Also, it’d help build some space between your story and Batman or Spiderman).

    –If the boy is supposed to come off as rather determined, I think giving him more of a role in getting superpowers might help. Right now, he just sort of stumbles upon a superpowered ring at a construction site. It might feel more proactive if he, say, developed his own superpowered item or trained himself to the brink of death or whatever.

    –I think the meeting between the protagonist and the stalker could be more interesting. Right now, it doesn’t seem like the stalker has a really high-stakes reason to pursue the protagonist. I’d recommend adding a more urgent reason why the stalker needs to speak with the protagonist. (For example, perhaps somebody’s life is at stake or perhaps he really wants to be sure that this new guy with the ring is not going to be a problem of some sort).

    –I think proofreading more carefully would help. If you’re looking to get professionally published some day, I would recommend (for example) getting really comfortable with the difference between “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” (“Their” is only used as the possessive to describe something they have, “they’re” is only used as the contraction for “they are,” and “there” is used for everything else).

    –So far, I’m not really feeling the split-up between the first guy finding the ring 20 years ago and the second guy doing so in the “now” of the story. I think that the second guy will probably be mostly redundant with the stalker character.

    –Some minor contrivances that could be ironed out at some point: Why does the protagonist come back to the construction site? Who is leaving all of these superpowered rings at construction sites and why?

  176. Anonymouson 06 Mar 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Some thoughts,

    -No offense Cage, but this story sorta falls into a Teen of Destiny (TOD) story. TODs often fail because they are easy to become cliche. They always end in them saving the day. Hoorah. Plus, it’s hard to get rid of the parents/gaurdians without them dying or getting kidnapped. And it’s almost ALWAYS done by the villain. In my book, my villain killed my protagonist’s (who’s 11 years old) mother while his father was nearly killed by kidnappers who took his second born son-the same day he was born. Sure the teen can run away but there would have to be a pressing reason rather than ‘he didn’t like it there’ (Unless they are living at Count Olaf’s house-I’d run away too!). Even if they were given a good reason, were would they go? This often get’s into a non-plot driven part of the story. Many authors try and fill this by them getting into a fight or kidnapped (By robbers, villain, ect.).

    -Also, this ring. I’m feeling like it really doesn’t have a downside. Sure he becomes insane by his power-but besides that, the ring doesn’t seem to directly induce the downside rather than power hungriness. Does it have a finite source of power? Where is the power coming from? What places can’t it be used? (For example, my protagonist has a finite source of power that comes from the chi within himself and all his powers short out under water (because he can’t swim and he hates bodies of water lol.) except for his slight super strength.)

    -Why does he even go to the construction site? I feel that this was more author-driven than character-driven. At the very least, maybe he goes to commit suicide.

    -Once at the construction site-why does he take it home? It would seem more sensible for him to open the box there.

  177. Nicholas Caseon 06 Mar 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Once again, Anonymous was me. ^

  178. Nicholas Caseon 06 Mar 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Oh and um a random fight to propel the story on isn’t very good. (In response to “Many authors try and fill this by them getting into a fight or kidnapped (By robbers, villain, ect.).”)

  179. B. Macon 06 Mar 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “No offense Cage, but this story sorta falls into a Teen of Destiny (TOD) story. TODs often fail because they are easy to become cliche. They always end in them saving the day.” I could be mistaken, but I think Cage is working to vary his story on this point. For example:
    –The villain wins.
    –The main character is the villain, I think.
    –It’s almost as cliche for a superhero story to start by killing the parents as it is for a romance to end with an engagement or wedding, but I like that it sounds like the character responds in a different way than other protagonists do in a similar situation.

    PS: Can you name any teen protagonists that aren’t Teens of Destiny? ;-)

  180. Nicholas Caseon 06 Mar 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I would say mine, but he’s not a teen. :D

    Also when I say TOD I mean that they get their power either out of grief, in a pinch, or they are destined to have it (Hence the name Teens of Destiny.).

    If my character WERE 13- he still wouldn’t be one because anyone can do it-including humans. He has to earn his super powers (Well, besides the fact that he’s born with the strength of 3 men and he can out run most people since he runs at about 25 miles per hour in a sprint-but that pales in comparison to my other characters. The only thing that gives him an edge is the fact that he can run up to 400 miles per hour using super speed (in his base state) and 65 mph from sheer training. No chi needed.) I also decided to give him parkour skills (since I’m learning it myself).

    To top it off, he can’t even stand 90 degrees without dying so he’s pretty helpless against Haden-let alone his son. Dunimas’s mentor, Master Yin, is also Dunimas’s deceased Great great (….) grandfather and the Ex best Friend of Nicholas Case (Who’s also his ancestor with too many greats.) Gregory Dull.

    The point is-a TOD is a teen who’s powers come by fate. Dunimas was actually the last person they wanted to save the world. Nick and Kyu are nowhere found, Molly and Hunter were to chicken, Beihan and Ceihan are dead, and Ixsas is ‘gone’. Like I said, Dunimas had to train extremely hard to kill Haden, and that was just by the luck of Exsusia’s katana which was made of the same metal the invincible armor was made of. When Dunimas impaled Haden with it, his invincibility shorted out for about 10 minutes, which was more than enough time for Dunimas to blast him into the sun.

  181. Ghoston 06 Mar 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Cage,
    I am a little confused by what you posted above. From what I gathered, The Bad Guy, is similar to an evil batman. He watches his parents die and make revenge his life’s ambition. Somewhere along to line, he finds a “ring” that gives him powers. Instead of using his powers to protect the innocent, he uses it to terrorize the guilty. The Bad Guy loves the power the ring gives him because it offers him the safety and the control that he lost as a child. Enter Charles, the mysterious mentor like character, who explains to The Bad Guy what the ring means and how to use it. The Bad Guy becomes even more violent, at which point Charles disappears.
    Twenty years later, The Bad Guy is still on the war path and The Good guy shows up. The Good Guy happens so stubble onto the some power as the Bad Guy and now has the power to stop him.

    If that is the general idea for your story then I have a few suggestions for your story:
    The ring idea sounds a little too green lanternish. You might want to consider something else, like a bracelet or a pendant. Your choice.

    I agree with B. Mac, if you Bad Guy is suppose to be determined and obsessive, then he probably shouldn’t get his powers passively. Determined people don’t just sit around and wait for things to happen to them, they go out and make things happen. If you want readers to see that character as determined, then you need to make him act determined.

    I like the potential dichotomy between your two main characters. I get the feeling that your Good Guy should be a “reluctant hero”, kind of like spiderman. Either afraid to use his power because he doesn’t want to become the Bad Guy, or unwilling to use his power because he doesn’t want the responsibility. I also think that your Good Guy should be the one to get his power accidentally.

    On the flip side, your bad guy craves power because he feels like he is the only one capable of wielding it. I feel like the two characters are kind of like Captian Marvel and Black Adam.

    Speaking of the Captain Marvel/Black Adam relationship, if that is what you are going for, then you should not use Charles as the source of the two character’s powers. It might make Charles seem a little like Shazam.

    You didn’t mention the limitations of your character’s powers. I would like to hear what you have in mind.

  182. Nicholas Caseon 06 Mar 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I know! I thought of the green lantern too!

  183. cageon 07 Mar 2011 at 1:00 am

    hey thanks for the tips
    and ghost that is kind of my general idea
    i don’t want to make the bad guy determined enough to develop his own powers because he doesn’t have any reason to so he finds a bracelet
    but in order to develop his powers he has to train

    i am currently hoping that in order to create something he has to know what he is making top to bottom i mean like he cant create something just because he feels like it and he would need a lot of controlling and focusing

  184. cageon 07 Mar 2011 at 2:40 am

    The story starts 20years before the current times
    Their’s a teen who was full of life,he always wanted to be a superhero (I mean like protector of justice , peace bringer)he was always full of life and worshiped them like gods.

    But one day while passing through a street with his parents they are attacked by a robber who kills his parents and run away but is caught by a superhero who was blocks away from the accident sight but did not / could not stop the killings but the boy blames the hero for his inability

    But during his trail somehow the robber (due to his links) is not punished and while leaving the robber laughs at the boys inability to do anything (this pushes it and the boy leaps at the robber to attack him but is stopped before he can do something)

    the guy is sent to a foster family who doesn’t care about the boy much and only keep him because of the money from the parents will (more or less they don’t really care about him)

    He looses his will to live and starts living very quietly and becomes an easy and constant target for bullies
    some years pass by but neither his wounds nor his situation change for the better and starts thinking that their are no real superheroes that can really help us.

    But once escaping from the bullies he somehow manages to outrun them and hides inside a construction site with no body around and when sure that he isn’t being followed he starts to run but stumbles upon something he isn’t sure what it is so he digs it out (out of curiosity ) he sees that it is an old wooden box with something shining through it not on it but through it he doesn’t understand what is happening so he opens it and sees an old but beautiful bracelet with red colored gem attached to it inside as soon as he touches it the bracelet attaches itself to his wrists he is first of all totally scared but when he tries to open it ,it doesn’t come it and becomes struck there but upon hearing some voices he runs back home thinking of trying to remove it once home but still is unable to do anything.
    First he is pissed but later at school the next day he sees that while again being targeted by a bully his body moves on his own and punches him so hard that he falls a few feet away but this was not the end he aces the test he didn’t even know was going to happen and while running back home he finds that he is faster ,a lot faster than before he loves the powers it gives him as after that no one seemed to bother him

    So,one day while passing through a lane he sees that he is being followed by some one wearing a similar bracelet as his but with a yellow gem he tries to run but finds that he cant run faster than usual self and the fact that there was a wall standing in his path didn’t help he tries to fight but nothing happens even his brain stops thinking straight.
    So,Stalker finally catches the guy and tells him that the bracelet he has is special and not for terrorizing bullies so he creates a car out of thin air and pushes the guy inside it .the guy thinks that why nobody was stopping the man but finds that every body has just frozen .the car stops near a burning building the man throws the boy out and tells him to stop it .

    first the boy gets nervous is unable to do anything as his powers abandon him he cant think straight but suddenly regains his consciousness when he hears someone calling for help he starts to use his powers and the fire brigade arrives but they find that their machines are malfunctioning the boy feels sorry about the people trapped and starts to deeply focus that the machines should start working and they does the fire is extinguished and the people are saved but no one seems to see him the stalker stops by and tell him that his name is ‘apple’(please suggest a good name)
    and tells him the origin of his powers and that the bracelet only amplifies his decision and are affected by his feelings i.e strong feelings i.e anger,hate or a reason to do something=working powers and weak feelings =no power apart from that it also grants the user some powers like he has the power to create inorganic substances out of thin air but somehow in ‘apples’ presence time literally seems to stop because he belonged to some other dimension and was the bracelets creator (their is a long story why he created them) and tells him that they are preferred by its previous users for good

    but apart from this every bracelet has some different powers but one thing is common the ring increases the wearers previous skills many folds .saying so disappears
    Guy learns that he has the power to control machines and technology through intense focus and the will i.e chi
    Guy with the help of apple aka stalker decides to train to develop his powers and fight crime so the thing happened to his parents will never happen again and after intense training masters his chi and abilities to the extreme

    time passes the guy enters his twenties and moves out but soon Instead of using his powers to protect the innocent, he uses it to terrorize the guilty. The Bad Guy loves the power the ring gives him because it offers him the safety and the control that he lost as a child soon he becomes more and more brutal and away from the people

    one day he catches the robber who killed his parents and without even thinking twice laughs while he brutally beats him to death he enjoys his powers so much that it slowly corrupts him and starts craving for more . While apple is unable to stop him
    time passes and the only thing stopping him from attacking innocents was his disappearing sense of justice but it vanishes and he becomes a villain himself hell bent on Saving the world even if it meant world domination.
    Meanwhile apple suddenly disappears
    .
    .
    Current time -the world is ruled by the bad guy and he has found more ways of increasing his strengths by his abilities
    but a young guy finds another such bracelet but can he save the world is the main question

    this is more or less the concept of 1/4 of my story

  185. cageon 07 Mar 2011 at 2:42 am

    will it be too childish to say that apple himself cant stop the bad guy because he doesnt belong in our dimension and hence cant change anything but can only teach the worthy

  186. Cageon 07 Mar 2011 at 3:13 am

    For those who read my story

    Here is the downside of mystic bracelets
    The bracelets gives one amazing power but there is a catch
    In case of the bad guy the bracelet eats up his mind making him insane for more power
    In case of apple his bracelet puts him in a dimension where there is nothing he can come back but can’t communicate with others except the bracelet wearers hence can’t change anything so in his company only wearers notice what’s happening and in his realm he doesn’t age nor he needs food only death can free him
    He is in this stage for more than 20 years

    Looking for powers and the downside for the hero help

  187. danon 08 Mar 2011 at 2:24 am

    kind of a good plot normally most of the superhero stories begin with the death of the parents but how the guy reacts is interesting

  188. Marquison 08 Mar 2011 at 7:10 am

    I think I posted an idea on this page but its gone.Do I need permission to post ideas for other peoples stories?

  189. B. Macon 08 Mar 2011 at 7:54 am

    No permission required. It’s possible that it got trapped in the spam filter, but I didn’t find any of your comments there. Would you like to try again?

  190. Marquison 08 Mar 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Bah! never mind

  191. Cageon 08 Mar 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Please someone reply to my above commentS

  192. Marquison 09 Mar 2011 at 6:56 am

    Hey Cage, are you willing to change the plot a bit?

    I like the beginning, but what if instead of doing simple things like running home and discovering his powers maybe the guy that is following him attacks him.( This would add an engaging begining that would keep the reader interested in the story)

    Maybe the bracelets give the users powers but only at certain times for example maybe at times when the user is feeling great emotions. Oh and when the main character punches the kid in the face. You should make this scene happen outside of school for reasons such as:

    The main character could get suspended for hitting a kid in the face.

    This would play into the engaging beginning and would provide an excellent oppurtunity for him to discover his powers. Maybe he takes on multiple enemys at once seeing as the bully could bring his friends.

    Just some suggestions.

  193. Marquison 09 Mar 2011 at 7:00 am

    Oh and when the guy creates a car out of then air. You should think about some restrictions. I mean whats to stop the guy from creating anything that pops into his head.

    I think a good restriction could be he can only maintain what he created for a short period of time before getting physcally exhausted. Similar to running for a long period of time. Just out of breath.

  194. Cageon 09 Mar 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Hey Marquis thanks for the suggestion but the part u read was about how the villain comes I have different plans for the hero u r right that the guy folioing should attack the guy to test him and about the stalker u should read the post below my story for his restrictions he can’t physically harm anyone

  195. hydrochloroic acidon 10 Mar 2011 at 1:21 am

    Hey cage your story is nice and good. its rather interesting than being boring and has suspense. I think that during the 1st part u should make it more suspenseful as it attracts the reader. You should improve the part where u tell that he is the creator. I mean to say that you should describe the villain as he was born to destroy earth rather than telling his childhood stories.

  196. Cageon 10 Mar 2011 at 5:12 am

    Please read the comments below the story he is no longer the creator I changed him into another wearer the villain was a good guy but the bracelet corrupted him to think thathe is the only hope the world hence with a crazy idea he seeks to clense it

  197. Marquison 10 Mar 2011 at 6:42 am

    Ohhhhh ok, so the bad has gone crazy with power. thinking that what he is doing is right. I really like that idea maybe at the end the bad guy finally sees that what he is doing is wrong but its to late( Either his plan is already in motion,or he is about to die I think that would make the reader feel sympathy for the bad guy)

  198. Jasmineon 13 Mar 2011 at 10:24 am

    Hey, I’m planning to write a novella that has two guys and a girl as the main characters. I’m not sure what the plot would be, but I think it would be about fighting a crazed psychic wanting to make the world livable for other psychics (whom will be dubbed ‘espers’ in the novella).

    The two guys and girl are adults in this novella (in their thirties), and are espers: One guy is telekinetic and clairvoyant, the other is telepathic and can “project” his astral body. The girl can teleport and generate – as well as manipulate – magnetic forcefields with her mind. They all gained these powers by being the second generation of espers; their parents were test subjects from a super secret government project codenamed E.S.P.E.R, which was to create espers to serve as shock troops for further expansion and future wars. However it was eventually deemed dangerous when accidents started happening and E.S.P.E.R was terminated; many espers were killed, but a few survived – those few are the parents of the main characters – long enough to give birth to the main characters along with a few others.

    I need some advice on writing about their powers. It’s not going to be perfect but their powers are planned to have flaws in them such as requiring willpower and concentration. Telekinesis I can do already and telepathy somewhat, but I need some help on the more harder psychic abilities such as teleporting, force field generation (yeah I know, it isn’t usually), clairvoyance, and astral projection.

    I am also planning to have a supporting main character who is also an esper: He is an adult (he is also in his thirties), is a Japanese immigrant who is a martial artist and is telekinetic, but he is also empathic and precognitive. I need help on writing on empathy and precognition.

    The last thing I want to add: All espers are capable of forming psychic links with each other. They can also form those on “normals” – people who are not espers. The main characters are “linked” to each other, but they can also form mental blocks on those links when someone isn’t wanted.

    - Jas

  199. ealperinon 24 Mar 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve got an issue involving my character/heroine: I know that I want her to be the sort of psychic that sees brief flashes of what the dead person’s life was like-

    (along with the fact that she sees glimpses of the “person” {It’s the main villian, btw}who kills them as she touches the person via skin contact [with gloves on, I guess] )

    -as the dead person in question- is lying on the autopsy table, but I don’t know how to start it off.

    All I know is that the beginning starts off with the fact that she finds out that she has ths “gift” as her mother is dying right in front of her.

    - (There’s a whole scene where she finds out her husband has been off doing his villian-schtick on paid leave. The main villian kills her/the mom for knowing too much about the villian and the husband partnering up.)

    -[this is where the whole coroner thing comes into play,here. She finds a big cardboard box that on her autopsy table that has blown up profile pictures of her superhero-ing. Beneath all that, there's a severed head of one of her friends that attended her mothers funeral. Shock and anger ensues until she gets a call from her estranged father. Scene ends and another one begins....]

  200. ealperinon 24 Mar 2011 at 12:52 pm

    And yes the power does drain her a bit. So, she does need some rest.

  201. Sylaron 07 Jun 2011 at 10:51 am

    B. Mac, there is one other limitation you could’ve put. And that’s the possibility that the protagonist reads someones mind, but they speak AND think in a foreign language, so he can’t understand they’re thinking (Matt Parkman had that limitation in Heroes).

  202. B. Macon 07 Jun 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Using foreign languages to juke psychics? ¡Buena idea, Sylar! :)

  203. Crystalon 29 Jun 2011 at 11:57 am

    “Why doesn’t she just crush Dr. Doom’s windpipe!?”

    You just gave me a great idea for Chapter 5…*Evil laugh*

    Though this also applies to Adam and Maria.

    Adam…Well, oddly enough, he only has that good of an aim when he’s out of control. Otherwise, it’s more like, “Okay, I’m gonna clumsily pick up this tree and swing it around and hope it hits someone.”
    On the other hand, Maria…Well, not like she’s one of those people who refuse to kill people because they can’t hurt anybody, ever. She just has a few qualms about setting people on fire. (Well, c’mon. She’s what, thirteen, fourteen? Just a kid.) Is that okay? I mean, setting someone on fire is a far cry from stopping the villain’s heart, or something like that…I just don’t want to make her sound too weak.

  204. Mynaon 29 Jun 2011 at 1:01 pm

    What do you mean by she has a few qualms with setting people on fire? I mean, I can’t imagine a young girl being okay with lighting people up in fights (especially because the results… are horrific, to say the least) but I don’t think she’d be weak in a fight ’cause of this. You can still use fire well in a fight scene, without sending someone to the E.R. with third-degree burns. ^.^

  205. Crystalon 29 Jun 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t mean weak in a fight. I meant sounding…well… “Well, if I don’t use my superpowers to kill the bad guy, the world as we know it will end. But killing is wrong. Only bad people kill.”
    Y’know, like that.
    I didn’t use the greatest word choice, I admit. :)
    Well, she’s a martial artist, too, so, basically, she can set her fist on fire and punch someone or whatever. As long as they’re not total idiots, if they remember ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’, they’ll be fine.
    But, yeah, you got what I meant. I certainly wouldn’t be okay with that. I just didn’t want to make her sound…Wimpy. That’s the word I was looking for. :)

  206. Mynaon 29 Jun 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Well, heroes have morals, after all. Unless you villain is particularly sadistic, I can’t see the hero having good enough motivation to kill them in such a violent/horrific way (death by burning = excruciatingly painful.) Villains can kill like this, but generally good-guy heroes (that is, no antiheroes, grey and grey morality types, etc) wouldn’t do this.

    As for killing overall? I’m not sure. If a hero is completely against killing, it might complicate solutions to their problems (as morbid as those solutions may be) but it can go either way.

  207. JTheGreaton 01 Jul 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hey, just wanted to let you know that I love your website. It’s been very useful to me in my writing “adventures” ;D. I keep your list in mind when I’m writing my story (it’s about teens with psychic abilities). It’s in a fantasy setting, so they wear a special armor which blocks psychic attacks. I was just wondering about Problem One. I can probably get by depicting psychic actions, but I’m attempting to write it from first-person POV. How will my hero (Scott Dooney) describe how he uses his powers? I used to use a metaphor where characters go to a sort of mindscape inside of their head, but it’s rather unrealistic considering fights happen in real-time. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks :) .

  208. B. Macon 01 Jul 2011 at 6:25 pm

    “How will my hero (Scott Dooney) describe how he uses his powers [in first-person POV]? I used to use a metaphor where characters go to a sort of mindscape inside of their head, but it’s rather unrealistic considering fights happen in real-time.” One possibility would be that he does battle with mental hallucinations, like an imagined knight that does physical damage as long as the person believes the illusion. The hallucinations could then do battle in real-time. Alternately, you could have the character do various psychic attacks and then show how the targets respond in real-time. For example, having someone spasm and shriek uncontrollably because they think they’ve been set on fire and rolled down a hill in burning tar. If the battle is between people with psychic powers, I think a mental mindscape would probably work well even though the battle is happening in real-time. Please let me know if you’d like me to review any battle scenes. I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  209. Chihuahua0on 23 Jul 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Hello, it’s me again.

    I decided to read this article again because I’m working on an YA novel where the protagonists are psychics, and they fight manifestations of the human soul. Let see if I avoid all of these problems:

    1. There are a lot of psychic blasts, mists, beams, and other visuals described to make fight scenes exiciting. I detest to the fact that writing such a scene in a novel is harder. With the five primary sense, and the narrator’s internal thoughts, there is more to be shown.

    2. First of all, the two protagonist (Bryan, the narrator, and Finn, the British exchange student) are quite weak. Telepathy is like using fizzy walkie-talkies, mind-reading is pretty hard, mind control requires a lot of willpower, and mind-blasting is reserved for more experienced psychics. They have to act creatively to defeat their opponent.

    3. There isn’t much to mind-read. The Manifestations are pretty brutish, and Bryan doesn’t learn how to mind-read.

    4. Not really needed. There is a masquerade, a sort of censor, that prevents most people from seeing Manifestations and noticing psychic powers. Since no one but Bryan sees through the censor (which kicks off the novel), there isn’t anyone to mind-wipe. It’s an advanced skill anyways.

    5. Forcefields are like panels made from psychic matter. They don’t wrap around in a dome, and they crack.

    6. Although a blow with a Manifestation would hurt a person both psychically and emotionally, only minor injuries are inflicted.

    7. Manifestations don’t have wind-pipes. If there are any rouge psychics to fight against, crushing a wind-pipe would take too much time and effort.

    Throw in a world-wide psychic society that encourages excessive use of psychic powers and cover up any incidents that may get pass the censor, and there isn’t really any problems in this area. All I have to do is to work on Bryan’s motive and explain how he’s learning his powers so quickly than Finn, who had been training for years.

    And I have a question: Would anyone mind if I use the term “psychic energy”, even though there is no such thing as “pure energy” as it normally is used? “Psychic matter” is actual solid psychic energy, so I can’t use that term.

  210. Aj of Earthon 02 Aug 2011 at 3:49 pm

    This is an interesting article with a lot of good points, though I think with the consideration of a few key fundamentals most of these pitfalls can be easily avoided. So… Psionics, 101: Here we go.

    - Concerning mind-reading as an instant problem-solver: The most important thing to keep in mind (pun) when dealing with psionics (specifically telepathy, from which most other non-physical mental capacities stem) is that rarely if ever is employment of these abilities as simple as just turning them on and using them. To utilize a simple analogy, walking into someone’s mind for a specific piece of information is not the same (or as easy) as walking into, say, a grocery store to find a particular product. When dealing with Mind it isn’t very likely at all that what you’re looking for will be professionally packaged and labelled with it’s contents listed, placed neatly on an easily-accessible shelf in a clearly identified aisle with other products of a similar type. Consciousness just doesn’t work that way – at least not for your average (or even slightly above-average) psychic; the mind is an extremely complex, living network of constantly shifting thought and emotion, memory and awareness. It’s (dangerously) easy to get lost if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

    To take the grocery store analogy one step further, how many times in real life have you physically stood in that exact aisle you needed to be in, knowing what you were actively looking for, yet still couldn’t find it even though it was right in front of your face? The same thing applies to plucking information out of someone’s head, which isn’t to say that telepathy is useless; far from it of course. Perhaps your telepath *does* in fact recover the thought/secret/information/fear/enemy location needed – the deed done, it’s generally more effective and plausible that it’s a difficult endeavor, not simply guaranteed to be successful – not just a walk in the park (or grocery aisle, rather). It doesn’t have to be the ultimate trump card that it’s commonly made out to be; it doesn’t have to be one end of the extreme or the other (instant problem-solver or else completely useless). There are degrees to psychic aptitude, middle-grounds, gray areas. Also, it’s important to remember that with most superhero-types, the same trick isn’t apt to work so easily a second time (fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice…)

    Another point to this is that everyone, super-powered or not, possesses consciousness and that non-psychic characters can still be taught general psychic defense to help protect them. Especially if they happen to know that one of their opponents is a telepath.

    - Concerning the difficulty of depicting psychic fights/action/activity, etc.: This is most easily addressed by developing solid, effective narrative. Period. This is something required of any writer regardless of the use of psychic characters, so the good news here is that you don’t necessarily have to learn something too terribly specific to psionics. What might be useful to remember, however, is that the mental sphere/astral plane/human consciousness generally works on the concept of symbolism; on metaphors and archetypes (much like dreams). If your character is trying to get into the mind of another character, make use of the metaphor. Describe the initial contact as though your character were maneuvering down a long, twisting corridor with many other corridors branching off, each with their own doors, perhaps some of them locked, or perhaps walled up completely (a little generic, but you get the idea). Mind is perception, and everyone’s is different, so structure whatever character’s mind is being invaded appropriately to the nature/style/attitude of that character. If you can effectively narrate any other aspect of your story, you can just as effectively narrate psychic activity.

    For more on psychic/mental metaphor & symbolism, spend some time with a Dream Dictionary. That’s a great reference for appropriately utilizing aspects of meaning for whatever symbolism might be lurking in your characters (sub)consciousness.

    - Concerning mental possession, mind-control, hypnosis/influence: Consider the amount of mental concentration required of you to perform regular, everyday tasks. You can read the same paragraph over and over and if you’re not totally focused you won’t have actually retained a single word. Or better yet, let’s use chopping up produce on a cutting board as an example (I know, another food analogy. I love to eat though, so this is what you get, heh…). If you’re not paying absolute, 100% attention to what you’re doing, chances are you will mess up and seriously injure yourself. In the most extreme (though admittedly rare) of instances, you might sever some sort of artery and just bleed out. Assuming you can’t get immediately to a hospital to get stitched up, you’re done. Now equate this to psychic activity, specifically the prolonged holding and manipulation of a mind that isn’t your own. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to consider or further, pull off, even if your character is telepathically adept. The concentration is what’s key here; absolutely and unequivocally crucial to success, and if your character’s concentration is broken, even for a moment, that control will dissolve. So here again, while the act of mind-control is totally in line with the nature of psionics, it’s not always a quick-fix or guaranteed to work (just like the use of any of superpower). Add the element of some personal injury (psychic backlash, induced coma, whatever) as a consequence of not getting it just right and you’ve suddenly got suspense and danger; you’ve raised the stakes which = effective storytelling.

    - Finally, concerning the act of killing another character with psychic powers: Even with a more physically-oriented psychic ability, like telekinesis, the mind is still engaged in the process. What this means is while your character COULD kill with a thought, chances are the ending of another being’s life will absolutely backlash on the psychic doing the killing. It’s a different story to induce unconsciousness, to put to sleep or even, using telekinesis, beat the $&!% out someone (rearrange their organs)… but death? The sudden, violent act of permanently ending another’s life, while your characters mind is engaged in and focused upon theirs? Your psychic will experience it as though it’s happened to them. Or rather, they SHOULD. There are some things that even Master telepaths just can’t accomplish without direct, personal and equally balance consequence. (Plus, it’s a better, much more credible explanation than “but s/he’s a good guy”, even if the villain is literally seconds away from destroying the planet).

    And that’s that. I hope this has helped you folks who are working with psychic characters to think around and through some of the very common (and admittedly frustrating) issues dealing with psychic power. Just remember to use your imagination! Your characters don’t have to be unrealistic, instant problem-solving trump cards anymore than they have to be totally useless in melee combat just because they’re psychic.

    So yeah. You have your mission. Be on your way.

  211. Sylaron 06 Nov 2011 at 8:38 pm

    B.Mac, you CAN make mind-erasure dramatic and suspenseful. Make mind-erasure difficult, physically strenuous and even inaccurate; so when a hero tries to erase someone’s memory, they’re always pondering about whether or not they finished the job and COMPLETELY erased their memory…

  212. FanGirl27on 16 Feb 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Great Post. I find though that some telepathic scenes can be fun when a character enters another mind. I have some of this in a work I am currently doing. It’s a vampire story so the vampires enter another mind. But I limited it so only one character could. For the very issues you said above.

  213. akv21999on 12 May 2012 at 7:35 pm

    i find that if you have a wide mind of creative ideas and descriptive words and can imagine the scene that occurs it is fun and relatively easy to write the scene. my character who has a wide variety of psychic powers that include mind reading doesn’t use her powers to find out what her enemy is plaining because of the huge pain that explodes in her her when she tries. is that a good reason that she doesn’t use her powers, thus making thing difficult?

  214. aharrison 15 May 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I’m glad I found this article! I am getting ready to write about a psychic character. You are right about the death thing as far as I am concerned. She killed once and her telepathy followed the dying thoughts down and almost killed her. Consequently, she avoids killing as much as she can now and certainly does not kill with her powers anymore if she can help it as the risks are too great.

    As to the mind reading aspects, my take on it are that most people project their thoughts without even trying. For someone who reads minds as naturally as breathing, it makes life quite loud unless you live with some natural barriers up at all times, even when you are fighting. It’s just second nature, and she has to specifically lower her own mental defenses to actually read thoughts. Usually, she focuses when she does to drown out all the “ground clutter” from everyone else and just pick up the one person she’s reading.

    As to those who do not project their thoughts willy-nilly, they often either have their own mental defenses or are very mentally disciplined people or people with naturally high willpower who don’t tend to broadcast. Those people would be aware that she’s reading them. They’d notice her intrusion.

  215. Robert Sextonon 07 Jun 2012 at 6:06 am

    I have a story (novel) I’ve been working on for a while. The protagonist is psychic. While reading your list of problems with psychic heroes, I either agreed, laughed out loud, or remembered parts in my story that worked out well even though you suggested it would be too difficult.

    From the perspective of a would-be novelist, here are my responses to your list…

    1. Psychic fights are hard to depict. In a comic book or graphic novel, you can draw Superman throwing a rock at someone. How would you show a psychic using his mind to throw a rock? Those little white lines going everywhere usually look goofy. In a novel, describing a psychic fight is even harder.

    Actually, it depends on how the psychic’s powers manifest. Is there some sort of glow or light? Do they make physical gestures that work in concert with what they’re doing? You have to see what the psychic is doing in your head (no pun intended) before you can try to describe it to your readers.

    2. Psychic powers are usually hard to use creatively. Mind-reading, telepathy, mindblasts and (especially) mind-control are not very versatile. In most cases, these powers either solve the problem instantly or are completely useless. On the plus side, telekinesis gives more opportunities for creativity.

    Are these powers any different than super strength or speed? Not really. They’re subtle, because the psychic’s opponent doesn’t see them coming (as if you could prepare for a super-sonic speed attack!), but that doesn’t mean the psychic doesn’t know what’s happening and thus unable to describe what they “see”, “feel”, and “experience.” Put yourself in the psychic’s place, experience what he/she does, and then write it up.

    3. Secrets, fear and uncertainty add drama, but mind-reading powers pretty much rule out surprise and deception. That’s a suspense-killer. One way to avoid this would be to remove the mind-reading powers altogether. Failing that, you could add limits to your character’s mind-reading powers. For example, mind-reading is usually a discreet/covert ability, which isn’t very dramatic. You can raise the stakes by making mind-reading so intrusive that the victims know when their minds are read. That will encourage your hero to read minds only when it’s very important. Another option is forcing the psychic to touch the person before mind-reading is possible. That will make your characters have to do interesting things to turn on their powers, rather than just flip the switch and solve the problem.

    I agree completely.

    4. Memory erasure/alteration makes a story vulnerable to “reboots,” when something important happens and the story later makes it unhappen. For example, someone learns the psychic’s secret identity and later the psychic erases his memory. That isn’t very satisfying. First, solving a problem simply by turning on a superpower is rarely very interesting. One more interesting alternative would be somehow using hallucinations or illusions to somehow convince the person that what he learned is not actually true. Second, it makes it hard to tell who knows what.

    I’ve not dealt with this… yet. Mostly because of that bit about keeping track of who knows what, and who’s had what erased/changed would make it challenging, but also because I would categorize it along with mind reading. There has to be some kind of conflict derived from the act of erasing/altering someone else’s memory that makes it something the psychic would be extremely reluctant to do it in the first place.

    5. Forcefields usually don’t work out well for authors. They’re hard to depict, hard to choreograph (especially in novels) and aren’t very versatile. They also suffer from power fluctuation. (Typically, the villain can break them until the author wants the hero to start winning).

    My protagonist used what might be referred to as a psychic shield. A rounded field of force that caught a bullet. I’ve loosely based many of his psychic powers on the Palladium Books Heroes Unlimited version of psionics. As an example of how I described it…

    I felt a deep stab of pain in my head and then heard the shot. It echoed through the building like nothing else could. I had expected something akin to a punch but nothing hit me. Even the headache had subsided to only a slight whisper. I also expected other shots, possibly from the guard, but they never came. I opened my eyes, squinted at the headache I’d always associated with auras, and looked toward Jeff. He was still pointing the gun at me; a small trail of smoke disappearing into the air. He had fired. I looked behind me to make sure the bullet hadn’t hit someone else. All I saw was Rachel staring at me too. I spun and found the guard also looking at me. Then I heard Rachel say, “Ral, your arm.”
    I looked at my arm. It didn’t hurt, but I was expecting blood. What I saw wasn’t even close. Around my arm was a shimmering… something. It looked vaguely like a shield. As I moved my arm to look at it from different angles, I noticed the bullet in it, hovering there, caught in the unreal force that made up the shield.

    6. It’s hard to explain how a psychic could survive the routine blows any supervillain will land in a fight. Most superheroes have some kind of super-resilience so that their fights don’t end as soon as the villain lands a punch. But super-resilience doesn’t seem to fit with psychic powers really smoothly, particularly if the hero has an otherwise normal body.

    I agree. Most psychics tend to have normal physical attributes and rely on their mental powers as well as skills. A smart psychic wouldn’t wade into a toe-to-toe brawl with anyone capable of dishing out physical damage. Instead, they’d keep them at bay with telekinesis, illusions, etc. until the psychic could find a way to subdue the villain. If the villain lands a blow, don’t hold back. The psychic will probably go down hard. However, depending on the range of abilities of the psychic in question, they may have the ability to regenerate wounds, given the opportunity to concentrate on it.

    7. “Why doesn’t she crush Dr. Doom’s windpipe!?” Readers will wonder why the Invisible Woman doesn’t make the most of her powers by rearranging her enemies’ organs. “But she’s a good guy!” and similar ethical qualms will seem really flimsy when the supervillain is moments away from conquering or destroying the world. It will probably help to create a stronger restriction. For example, your character’s powers only work on things he can see, or they only affect inorganic material.

    Morals can be an extremely strong motivator. After all, they would’t be a HERO if they broke the rules as routinely as the villains do. To be honest, superheroes usually do. That’s why they’re called vigilantes. And if anyone remembers, Sue described to Dr. Doom how she could create an invisible shield inside his heart and expand it until he exploded in the second F4 movie. >:D I’ve always considered her the most dangerous of the F4. However, my question is, what’s Sue Storm’s invisible forcefield power got to do with Psychic power descriptions? Yes, it’s invisible, but that didn’t make it any less palpable in the movies.

  216. Dinaon 24 Jun 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I have a superheroine, The Violet Phantom [due to the fact that she...ah...smells like violets ;) ] who began life at fifteen as an interrogator because she had mind-reading powers. When new, thought-blocking technology comes out, she trains as a special ops agent, as her powers are rendered somewhat useless, so she doesn’t get sacked. Maybe something like this will work for others.

  217. Stainedon 06 Jul 2012 at 8:09 pm

    In my story, my superheroine, Psi (Kessandra), lives in a world where people with super powers do exist, though the ones who wield them are often shunned unless they’re a great hero who’s saved the day blah blah blah. Of course the name Psi is a dead giveaway as to her powers, but Kessandra (possible a temporary name) has an internship at a research lab along with a few other characters. Aside from the normal technological research done there, the man who runs the lab works on tech for superheroes. After she gets her powers and he learns the truth (one of 4 people who know) he shows her some of his superhero tech, some of which doesn’t work.

    One of the things that doesn’t work is a kind of ecto-skeleton of sorts. It absorbs some of the shock from a hit and has a built in bullet-proof vest. Would this be effective for number 6? Or would it be too over-the-top, “that’s boring and stupid”?

    Also, her powers are actually kind of simple. She has telekinesis, but she can only use it on things she would be able to hold/lift normally, meaning no saving buses from driving over a cliff. She can mind blast, of course, but that is very draining of her powers and can’t be used very often, at least not for a while until she gets stronger. A limited forcefield. It, like the mind blast is draining, and it is also very easy to break and can only be used buy a little bit of time more than anything. I’m thinking later she might gain the ability to use mind-to-mind communication, but the range wouldn’t be very far and it would be possible to block her out. Finally, she can enhance her sense of sight or hearing for a short amount of time, but she needs a lot of concentration to do it. Do you think this is too much or would be overly complicated to write?

  218. B. McKenzieon 06 Jul 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Is there a connection between her working at this research lab and just happening to develop superpowers? (For example, perhaps she gets into this line of research because she has superpowers, or perhaps she develops superpowers because of something the lab does). Otherwise, it might feel a bit contrived that she just happens to stumble upon a researcher who is working on superheroes and she herself is a superhero.



    The ectoskeleton sounds workable to me. However, it might be a bit redundant with the forcefields. It might help to cut the forcefields–that will also help distinguish her fight scenes from the Invisible Woman’s.



    “I’m thinking later she might gain the ability to use mind-to-mind communication, but the range wouldn’t be very far and it would be possible to block her out.” As a minor power, I think this wouldn’t be problematic, but I’m having trouble thinking of scenarios where this power would be more useful than a cell-phone or a walkie talkie. (Granted, there are some scenarios where it would be helpful to have a way to communicate without speaking–e.g. maybe she needs to silently coordinate with someone during a hostage crisis or needs to call for help while underwater). Unless you have something special in mind, I’d recommend just going with a simple gadget because I think it’ll take less explanation than making it into a superpower.

  219. Stainedon 06 Jul 2012 at 10:47 pm

    The story is still mostly just an idea, so I haven’t worked out all the kinks in the plot, but I was thinking her powers would be because of something in the lab (i.e. a reaction to a material in the lab, which would also explain why none of the others would get powers since the material doesn’t affect them), but I’m open to suggestions :) and everyone already knows the lab works on tech for heroes.

    And you’re right. The forcefields and mind-to-mind aren’t important and can afford to be cut.

    Thanks for the help! :)

  220. Liamon 22 Jul 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Have you read the Medusa Project books by Sophie Mackenzie because in that the four heroes all have different psychic powers and it uses them really well, for example the telepathic one can’t control his powers as they kick in automatically when he makes eye contact with somebody, and the telekinetic boy loses control of his powers when he is around the girl that he fancies.

  221. TheLymantAnnexon 26 Aug 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Reading through all the comments on this article has given me a lot of ideas, but I do have a few things that might need some refining, if anyone has any ideas.
    The powers in my story work in that if a character or group of characters perform some kind of selfless/brave action, they would be ‘chosen’ by a spirit (possibly god/godess, still working out which) to wield a magical object that gives them access to a power, similar to how Green Lanterns are chosen, but more magicky.
    One of my characters (let’s call her Becky for now) has biopsychokinesis, which is control over living cells, effectively making her the healer of the group. She also, due to the nature of her powers, could hurt/kill people by keeping them from moving, stopping their heart, keeping their lungs from working, etc. I’m having some difficulty in:
    A) Working out the limits of these powers (e.g can she control people like a puppet-master, does it only work if she can see them, can she sense where people are using her power, etc.)
    B) Describing how these powers work from her POV.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated! I can supply additional info about anything if it is needed.

  222. M. Happenstanceon 27 Aug 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Sorry in advance if this doesn’t make much sense – I’m a little fried today. Hopefully it’s somewhat helpful.

    In regards to A): Perhaps when she attempts to control or heal a person, she becomes hyper-aware of that person’s body, feeling everything they feel – sort of a non-mental version of telepathy or empathy, with Becky suffering from a detachment from her own body while she uses her powers on others, and taking on the sensations they experience as her own. At minimum, this would make healing serious injuries and controlling people for longer amounts of time rather difficult to concentrate on – it also means she can’t force people to injure themselves without suffering the same pain.

    In regards to B): I think that an emphasis on touch as opposed to, say, sight or hearing could be very interesting here. Becky might be constantly aware of the inner workings of the people around her, naturally sensing heartbeats, muscle movements, and so on. Due to this, she’d probably be very good at reading people via small physical tells.

  223. TheLymantAnnexon 27 Aug 2012 at 10:08 pm

    @M.Happenstance Wow, these are some amazing ideas. In regards to several of them:
    ‘Perhaps when she attempts to control or heal a person, she becomes hyper-aware of that person’s body, feeling everything they feel… with Becky suffering from a detachment from her own body while she uses her powers on others, and taking on the sensations they experience as her own.’ I was thinking along the lines of healing from A:tLA, where it would require some kind of physical touch to heal a person, so having her try to heal someone from the injured person’s POV could be interesting.
    ‘At minimum, this would make healing serious injuries and controlling people for longer amounts of time rather difficult to concentrate on…’ I feel this would be a realistic power limiter, as in a battle she couldn’t just use the Big Bad’s most dangerous mooks – or even the Big Bad themselves – as an effective weapon.
    ‘Becky might be constantly aware of the inner workings of the people around her, naturally sensing heartbeats, muscle movements, and so on. Due to this, she’d probably be very good at reading people via small physical tells.’ Hah, kinda reminds me of Toph :) This is the only one I’m having a slight issue with. Another of my character’s powers is that he is an empath, so, along with other powers. he can detect truths/lies, albeit unreliably. Could I work a lie-detector power in for both of them, in that Becky doesn’t really know what to look for and the other character has about a 60-75% chance of reading someone wrong, so it’s not a game-breaking power?
    Thanks for replying, by the way! :D

  224. M. Happenstanceon 28 Aug 2012 at 11:12 am

    Well, real-world lie detection is still a pretty unsure thing. While there are physical cues that can sometimes indicate that a person is lying, they’re not foolproof, and it’s possible to bypass them. Becky could probably pick up on these tells, but she could also easily misinterpret them, or, as you said, she wouldn’t know what to look for.

    An empath is a little trickier – since they generally sense emotions as opposed to complete thoughts (separating them from telepaths). Figuring out whether a character is lying would probably rely on detecting emotional discrepancies – for instance (and this is an awful example but it’s the best I’ve got), a guy saying that he wants revenge on the villain because his wife was killed by the big bad probably shouldn’t set off the happiness sensor – but at the same time, he could be happy because he hated his wife and just wanted an excuse to join the battle. As with Becky’s abilities, it’d be easy for the empath to misinterpret a situation, which could cause a lot of trouble for the protagonists.

  225. Anonymouson 29 Dec 2012 at 7:56 am

    @ Tris: My MC has illusions too. These are his limits.
    He can only affect sight and hearing, but people can feel pain if an illusion hits them, or fear if it scares them.
    The second somebody realizes his constucts are illusions, they vanish.
    The bigger the illusion, the more energy it takes to sustain it.

  226. Keziaon 19 Nov 2013 at 6:34 pm

    This guy: Asher- has minor telepathic and telekinetic powers. His powers can only affect people within x distance and they have to be in his line of sight. His telepathic powers consist only of being able to bring up other peoples memories, he can decide the parameters of the memory (ex: rage, involving this person, etc.) but he can’t decide the specific memory. His telekinetic powers are half as strong as he is physically so while he can theoretically beat up a couple of guys across the room by targeting weak spots (kidneys, eyes, ears, throat, joints, groin) he’s pretty much declawed if he’s fighting someone who’s armored and has combat experience (essentially every single superhero). He relies mostly on his training and weapons to take out his enemies, but he can use his powers, limitations and all, to “poke” his enemies and drive them to distraction and recklessness.

  227. Keziaon 19 Nov 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Continuation of above: The more parameters Asher places on the memories he plans to bring up in the mind of his opponent requires more concentration (something you can’t really spare in the middle of a firefight) and takes some energy out of him, however the memory has a higher chance of having the desired effect on the victim (the usual “desired effects” generally include: catalyzing infighting or insubordination within superhero groups, reliving particularly traumatizing experiences, or supporting Asher’s logic when he attempts to seduce a superhero to his side). His telekinetic powers aren’t “sharp” enough to redirect a bullet or fireball midflight but they can be used to move the barrel just before it fires or exaggerate recoil to make follow-up shots extremely difficult, Asher also uses them to trip up enemies, to shift the path of punches, strikes, kicks, etc. in such a way that they either miss or only graze him while putting the enemy off-balance. His telekinetic powers cannot be used to strengthen his physical capabilities.

  228. Bethon 14 Apr 2014 at 10:55 am

    One of my characters is telepathic. It works by him being able to pick up the electrical impulses of other’s thought, and he can control his own and plant it into other people’s minds. He is married, and his wife has learned to detect when her mind is being read and can read his mind to some extent. So they pretty much share a mind. He cannot read the minds of people wearing helmets or otherwise blocking the electrical impulses from their mind to his. Do you guys think that’s okay?

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