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"Sensitive"/Psychic Characters (1 Viewer)

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B. Jinxed

Member
Alright. I am currently working out a paranormal/thriller novel. My question to you all is simply this: do you think the "sensitive", or unknowingly psychic character, overdone in the genre?

I was thinking about making one of my main characters one of those "sensitive" types but now I am not so sure. I could always fall back onto a cowardly disposition instead, as that could be just as fun to work with. As the characters are thrust into a paranormal-esque situation quite fast, I do need someone to be opposed to the idea of doing what I have planned, though I am not sure in what way or why just yet.

I appreciate any thoughts and opinions you may have. Also, I did look around the forums for character specific threads but couldn't find one. I hope that I am not just blind.

B. Jinxed
 

JosephB

Senior Member
The cowardly one could be a skinny dopehead with perpetual munchies with a big dog that can almost talk like a human. Put all your characters in a cool conversion van, and you'll be all set.
 

Kevin

WF Veterans
Alright. I am currently working out a paranormal/thriller novel. My question to you all is simply this: do you think the "sensitive", or unknowingly psychic character, overdone in the genre?

I was thinking about making one of my main characters one of those "sensitive" types but now I am not so sure. I could always fall back onto a cowardly disposition instead, as that could be just as fun to work with. As the characters are thrust into a paranormal-esque situation quite fast, I do need someone to be opposed to the idea of doing what I have planned, though I am not sure in what way or why just yet.

I appreciate any thoughts and opinions you may have. Also, I did look around the forums for character specific threads but couldn't find one. I hope that I am not just blind.

B. Jinxed
Why opposed? Personal history. It could be a Haunting, a place...Or a quest ala S. King's It. Just sit down and think about it: How's it been done before? As far as cowards while some like the original Dr. Smith, I prefer Stanley Tweedle. Of course you have to make it original, or market it toward the kids with their lack of reference.
 

J Anfinson

Retired Supervisor
Everything is overdone. There isn't an orginal idea to be found if you really stop and think about it. Look at the bare bones of every book you can think of, don't they all have the same basic idea as another book? What makes each story unique, however, is in the execution.

I wouldn't be worried about overdoing anything. As long as it's entertaining, someone will buy it.
 

Morkonan

WF Veterans
...I appreciate any thoughts and opinions you may have. Also, I did look around the forums for character specific threads but couldn't find one. I hope that I am not just blind.

B. Jinxed

Discover your "magic system", first. Don't just suddenly declare that a character is "sensitive" or "psychic" and then start running around with it. Instead, know "why" your character is sensitive/psychic and develop a framework that helps guide their episodes of psychicness or sensitivity.

Now, this doesn't have to be completely revealed to the reader. In fact, some of it might be better left off for the reader to discover, on their own, without having to be explicitly told. For instance, let's say you develop a "magic system" in which psychics and sensitives are exposed to the Great Plane of Life and Time where all events occur at the same time, all living beings are themselves, exposed, and which exists outside the realm of normal human experience. So, your psychic occasionally has glimpses into this realm. During those periods, they are able to sense many things. That's sounds fine, but it doesn't explain why they're not completely omniscient, does it? OK, so, they're only able to sense either random gibberish, because their mind can't handle it, or they are only able to sense certain specific things because they concentrate on them, have some sort of magic item that they use to focus themselves, are limited by God to what they can "see", or must be in proximity to a physical object or person... etc.. Whatever. In other words, there are restrictions placed on what your character can do and they are sensible and self-consistent within the magic system that you have constructed.

Develop your "magic system" and then follow those rules when crafting your story.

The reason I point this out is that a great many stories seem to have people with special powers that have no rules, no logic behind them. That's bad. That puts the reader on the alert for every page, scared that the writer is going to unleash some sort of divine intervention that makes no sense. Don't be guilty of that. If you present a character with special powers then you must have some sort of a set of rules by which those powers can be used, especially if they're powerful and could provide plot-resolution at any moment, should they be unleashed. ie: A psychic who can only see future events when they are holding a magic orb, on Saturday's, while at the bottom of the ocean will not threaten the suspense of a plot on every page... But, they'll still have nifty magic powers, even if they don't get to use them very often. :D

Putting limits on these sorts of characters is useful in all sorts of ways. It makes them vulnerable, even though they have amazing powers. Why do you think Superman's powers are threatened by Kryptonite? ;)
 

archer88iv

Senior Member
I always thought it was because Superman didn't eat his green veggies or something.

Maybe I missed something. How does being a wimp achieve the same goal as being all psychic and stuff?
 

Morkonan

WF Veterans
...Maybe I missed something. How does being a wimp achieve the same goal as being all psychic and stuff?

I'm not sure this is directed at me, but I think it is. :D

If you mean by "being a wimp" that a character with super powers is either sometimes vulnerable or doesn't always have control over them, then the answer is pretty simple - Super Powerful Characters can resolve most of their problems with their super powers and that is boring. If they have no vulnerabilities, that's boring too.

It also depends on the genre and type of story you're dealing with. For instance, if you're writing about Superman and there's no threat of kryptonite around, he's not really challenged by having to lift locomotives, leap tall buildings, dig to the center of the Earth, move an ocean... etc. That means that you have to throw something else at him. In that case, is your audience going to like reading about Superman's love-life for an entire issue? What if he can make anyone forget anything, like the infamous Superman's Kiss scene in one of the Superman movies? Boring... In fact, the audience was pretty ticked off at that - Superman made Lois Lane forget that he was really Clark Kent, plus made her forget they "spent the night together." Later, in another movie, Lois turns up pregnant and has his baby or some such. I guess that means Lois is either A) A slut or B) Never had "the talk" with her parents.

Moving on:

Let's say you have a psychic/sensitive/wizard/superhero in a story. Now, this character has no limits. What's to keep them from solving every problem in their domain with "magic" in two paragraphs? And, to top it off, the reader doesn't get to experience any suspense or drama in the act as nobody or nothing is really at risk. All it takes is for Character A to wave their magic wand and "Presto" the major plot problem is solved, The End. See, if they have that sort of power and don't use it, the reader is going to get ticked off to no end. It wouldn't make sense! It'd break the spell the author is trying to weave, causing the reader to "lose their buzz", so to speak, and the "suspension of disbelief" would be at a terrible risk. Nobody with super powers would fail to use them if a dire, and therefore interesting, situation arose. Plots are full of dire and interesting situations, that's why good books exist. Having a character that could and should use their powers to "fix" everything is a terrible threat to the enjoyability of the story.

Invulnerable characters... Wow, they can kill an action piece. So, the Bad Guy points the gun at the Super Hero and pulls the trigger. The reader has nothing to worry about! The Super Hero is invulnerable! "YAY!" No, not "Yay", really. It's more like "Wow, this is boring, I wonder what's growing in between my toes?" Just because a character has a vulnerability is no reason to think they're a wimp. Some of the strongest characters ever written are extremely vulnerable ones. We identify with those and their triumphs, though few, are all the more powerful because of that vulnerability. What sort of character would you admire more, a Super Hero that flew to the top of a mountain or a paraplegic who overcame their disability to reach the summit? Which makes for a more interesting story?
 
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