Heyo writers! Good news! I’m probably back?
Yes, I know, it’s a little ambiguous. Those on the Discord will no doubt know. But me, writing this in the now, which is as of posting weeks in the past … I have no idea if I’ll be back or not. This post is technically a “plus one” insurance policy in case something about my trip took longer than expected. Alternatively, I may already be back and just enjoy having a little leeway to either write ahead or catch up on writing I missed being off of the grid for so long. Five weeks … ugh.
Anyway, regardless of the nebulous nature of the future—which is your present, my writing coming at you from the past via one of the most successful forms of time travel—today’s post is a pretty good one. Hence why we’re revisiting it. Check out the excerpt below, and then hit the jump to revisit a classic post of character design!
… 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!”