This post was originally written and posted August 4th, 2014, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.
Still in Alaska. This post has been uploaded ahead of time.
Hello, everyone, new and old! Welcome back—or to, if this is your first—my weekly Monday writing guide post! I’ve got a great topic today, one that comes by request, and I’m eager to get down to it.
Today’s topic stems from a question that I’ve been asked by several followers on different occasions, making it one of the more common concerns that I hear. The wording and approach usually varies, but the end result always boils down to something like this: how can I keep my characters from becoming overpowered?
The short answer: We don’t. There’s no such thing.
I can hear the comments being composed from here, through time. Let me clarify.
A better answer would be: That isn’t the right question. Because you see, it’s not hard for most writers to keep their characters from being overpowered. Unless they’re green enough that it seems completely logical to them to give the main character expert-level skills at archery, swordsmanship, guns, gun repair, vehicle repair, vehicle piloting, magic, kung-fu (including the ancient form no one knows but the hero), lockpicking, skydiving, scuba diving, and romance, they won’t. That’s rookie level writing. Unless you’re Clive Cussler, but he gets a pass for making it a success anyway.
The real question that they want to ask, I feel, is this: how do I create a character with enough skills and talent to overcome what I place in his path without giving them too many skills and talents?