Being a Better Writer: Overpowered and Beyond Characters

So, this topic is an interesting one. In a way, it’s sort of the inverse of a prior Being a Better Writer post on Overpowered and Underpowered characters. Or perhaps an extension of that same post. I’ll let you be the judge, though both probably work depending on what part of that post stood out to you.

In any case, today’s topic comes via a request from a reader, who was wondering how one could write characters that were bonafide reality warpers, like the imfamous Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation, without breaking their story. A valid question, considering that such characters are typically powerful enough to solve a story’s problems with a snap of their fingers … or at the very least usually a similarly light level of exertion. How can one have a story while still playing around with a character that’s capable of solving everything with a flick of their near-omnipotent wrist? How do you have any sort of tension with a character like that around?

Well, the answer is at once both simpler and more complex than you might expect. The first, because there are some pretty common workarounds to the “problem” a reality-warper character presents for your narrative. And complicated because, well, while the solution sounds simple, pulling it off poorly leaves the reader with a bad taste in their mouth. A case of “simple solution, tough execution” if you will.

We’ll start with the simple bit: Give them limits. Yes, reality-warpers and nigh-omnipotent beings. Limits. It may seem like a contradiction, but if you recall the post on overpowered and underpowered characters linked at the beginning of this blog, having characters with limits, and then exploring how that character overcomes them, create some of the best narrative experiences.

Now, I can already see some of you younger readers shaking your head and saying “Limits? But an all-powerful character can’t have limits. That’s the point!”

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More Alpha Readers Needed!

Hey readers! Just a quick post here but …

I need more Alpha Readers. A few of my old standbys are busy with life/college/etc and are unable to contribute at this time, and I’d really like to get a few more eyes on Shadow of an Empire before bumping it to Beta status. Right now, we’re sitting at one Alpha having already read through completely, and a few more working on it, but I’d like to get a wider net if possible.

If you’re interested, have the time, and up for an early look at an awesome Fantasy-Western, drop me a line. The sooner I get Shadow out, the quicker I’ll be able to start work on the next Dusk Guard book, since Hunter/Hunted is my next project …

Tabletop Report – Session 2

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 2. Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be required. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!


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Being a Better Writer: Westerns

Just in case you missed it, there was a quick news post that went up just before this post. Be sure to check it out! It’s got all the news you need to know!

Welcome back readers! Again, apologies for the lateness of this post. I had an all-day shift yesterday (my job is back in the trend of loving all-day Monday shifts) and have been struggling to fight off a throat and chest cold that’s been disrupting my sleep schedule something awful. Anyway, that’s why this post is a little late.

Moving past that however, let’s talk about Westerns. This is almost a bit of a topic shift, if I’m honest, as BaBW hasn’t usually talked about specific genres before. I’ve talked about bits and pieces of genres, sure, but a full genre itself? The only time I’ve actually sat down and talked about a genre, it was mystery. Not a mystery, but the genre of mysteries.

Granted, I didn’t talk about everything to do with a mystery. Nor, likewise, will I talk about everything to do with Westerns. For a start, that would fill books. Also, you could just as easily type “Westerns” into wikipedia and skim over a good summary of just about everything the genre has … which, since I’ve looked at the page myself, is a pretty long list.

So I’m not going to talk about everything. For example, you won’t see me discussing staple tropes like lariats and cowboy boots. And in fact, I’m going to expand on things a little. See, the wikipedia page for “Western” defines a Western as films (or in this case, stories) that are “set in the American West that [embody] the spirit, the struggle and the demise of the new frontier.”

Right away, there’s one bit of that I don’t see quite perfectly eye-to-eye with. In fact, I’ll state outright that I don’t agree with it. That bit is the “set in the American West” bit.

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Quick News Post

Sorry for the lateness. Had work yesterday and I’ve been battling a gnarly chest-and-throat cold that refuses to die. Now, really quick, some news!

Unusual Events

First up, Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection, is currently 50% off. It actually has been for almost a week, but being blasted by being sick, I completely neglected to mention it. In any case, you can grab this collection of ten “short” stories (there are two novellas in there, and only three or four of them are actually short enough to warrant the short story tag) for just $2.99!

Second, the Alpha 2 Reading of Shadow of an Empire is moving along, but at this point I’d like to get some more eyes on it. If you’re interested in being an Alpha Reader (and if you’re confused as to what an Alpha Reader does, check this handy post here on the topic), drop me a line! The more eyes, the better.

Third, LTUE, or Life, The Universe, and Everything, the writing con, is coming up! Next week, in fact, from February 15th-17th. Unfortunately, this year I will only be able to make it to one day due to costs, and that will be the first day, the 15th. Still, if you can at all make it to one of the best writing cons for chatting with authors and learning about the craft, this is it. And if you’re going to be there that first day and want to put a face to the words, let me know! I’m always happy to talk with fans!

Okay, last one, I promise. This one has been on the back-burner for a while, but with everything sort of reaching an equilibrium, there’s no sense in me not destabilizing my carefully balanced load with some new business. I pose to you readers a question: How would you feel about doing a live Q&A session over Discord? I get a mic, you readers get questions, I drop a link here on the site at a pre-planned time, and I spend an hour or so answering questions on a variety of topics? Anyone interested in that?

Right, that’s it for the news! Onward to today’s Being a Better Writer post!

January Patreon Reward Up!

Those of you who supporting me on Patreon have something awesome to go look at! That’s right, the January Supporter Reward is here, and it’s following the vein of December’s! Except in tardiness, naturally. It’s here today.

But what is that, you might ask? December’s reward kind of snuck out amid a lot of other news, so its understandable that some of you might have missed it, but December’s reward was the first three chapters of Shadow of an EmpireThat Fantasy-Western set in the same universe as Ripper from Unusual Events? The one coming out later this year?

Yeah, that one.

Well, January’s reward is up, and it’s a good one. December saw the first three chapters of Shadow, so this month (well, it’s February now, so last month?) sees the release of two more! That’s right, chapters 4 and 5 are also now available to Patreon supporters!

Enjoy, and thanks for supporting Being a Better Writer!