Editing GHOST IN THE GLASS today, which got me thinking about Overpowered Characters.
A common discussion in SF/F books is what to do with Overpowered Characters. What do you do with characters who have become so powerful they can solve all problems with a wave of their magic wand (or a blast from their particle cannon) and thereby overcome all opposition?
The key to solving this problem is to understand that there are different kinds of power and they’re not applicable in all situations. After all, someone can be physically powerful, but there are many, many situations where violence is useless and even counterproductive. In fantasy, there might be magical power, but there could also be physical power (super strength or great skill). There are also subtler forms of power – money can lead to financial power, social influence to political power, fame to social power, knowledge to social influence, and so forth. Even physical attractiveness can be its own kind of power. So in a fantasy novel, you could have a physically weak king with no magical abilities who nonetheless rules with an iron fist because he has political skill and understands how to manage people.
And a writer can flip that on its head – power can become a liability.
I’m afraid I did that to poor Caina in the GHOST NIGHT series. 🙂
Caina’s become famous after the events of THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE, and it’s a huge problem and liability for her. After all, the events of the last three GHOST EXILE books would be described in modern terms as a Major Geopolitical Shift, and she was right in the middle of it. So a lot of people have heard of her by now, which is a problem for her because she was trained as a Ghost nightfighter (covert operative, basically), and it’s a lot harder for her to operate when so many people know who she is.
Needless to say, it’s been great fun to write!