Writing about Superpowers
by: Sherrie Cronin
I write speculative fiction, and am currently in the middle of creating a collection of six novels in a genre know as magical realism. In my world, fantasy-type things happen as part of normal reality and you, the reader, are hopefully convinced that neither magic nor yet-to-be-invented science are involved.
Each of my books concerns a character with a different superpower, and each time I have struggled to invent ways in which the power doesn’t work. It turns out that the abnormal abilities are fun, but it’s those limitations that make for a good story. In x0, my first protagonist discovers that she is a telepath. I could tell early on that if I let her powers go wild, by halfway through the book she’d pretty much run the world. That’s not much of a story.
One solution was to create villains with equal or greater powers, but this yielded a sort of comic book cosmos that wasn’t what I was after. I wanted a believable lady in a universe that looked like my own, in which she dealt with dangerous but real people. So, she could read minds, but obviously not easily or at a distance or all of the time.
In my second book, y1, my main character is a real life shape shifter. Once again, if he could turn himself into anything and he had even a little imagination, he ought to be in charge of everything before the plot really gets going. Luckily, I developed his powers as being rooted in his amazing fine muscle control and certain chameleon-like color alteration abilities. That left him limited by his hair, his clothes and his approximate size. No turning into wolves or refrigerators or flies on the wall for him. His limitations helped me craft a plot that involved the fanciful but didn’t spin out of control before it even got started.
My hero in z2 can slow down the passage of time to the point where it almost stands still. Once again I was challenged to limit his capabilities. He begins the book thinking that his unique talent only shows itself when he is playing sports. As he finds himself in a variety of physical emergencies, he figures out that he is more versatile than he realized. Fortunately it takes him to the end of the novel before he learns to dependably control and use this power. This lack of knowledge about how and when his superpower can be called upon allowed him to occasionally save the day without becoming too quickly.
There are three more books in this collection, and more superpowers to be developed. I’m enjoying playing with these new plot lines, and working my hardest to keep my remaining super people from becoming too invincible. I want them to have adventures that my readers will enjoy.
Alex once walked away from a rare ability to warp time, thinking it was only a young man’s trick to play basketball better. Now, as a father and teacher, he needs to relearn the skill quickly before the past begins to destroy his own future.
To protect his daughter and his most promising student, he must stop the school at which he teaches from turning the clock backwards to an era of white supremacy. He wants desperately to use his unique gifts to help an old high school friend solve an ancient Maya mystery that offers a rare chance to bridge the past and the future. Both are possible, but only if Alex can learn to control his temporal talents before he runs out of time.
Genre - Speculative Fiction
Rating – PG
Connect with Sherrie Cronin on Goodreads