Starting out my final semester, it feels great to be able to partake in a course that allows me to explore my personal interests. Starting Creative Writing II, I can’t explain how excited I am to come up with new ideas, but I am also looking forward to seeing what students who are new to the course will produce.
Simply put, I’m revving up my writing skills once again. AT UAT, we have the opportunity to explore whatever literary elements or styles we want to. Specifically, I like to geek out about fantasy and science fiction. That's why today's post will cover the flashiest and most experimental aspects of fiction that captivated me as a child: the “super” element.
What do I mean by the “super” element? I define it as the extraordinary or supernatural aspects and abilities of a character. Immediately, you’re probably picturing superheroes from the likes of Marvel and DC comics. That’s what adolescent me would first picture as well, and you're not wrong. But there is much more. Superpowers, augmentations, mutations, magic—all of these things are considered supernatural or extraordinary.
Adding a supernatural element to a character or story is a strong literary tool.
- The Supernatural is Intriguing
If you think this statement is wrong, just look at the rising popularity and interest in fantasy/science fiction media over the past 40 or 50 years. As beings capable of independent thought, humans are intrigued by the “what ifs” both in life and outside of it. With this in mind, it comes to no surprise that we as people are automatically interested the moment we see what would otherwise be portrayed as a normal person having something supernatural about them.
- The Supernatural Can Reveal Details About the Character(s)
Very much depending on the story and type of supernatural element you want to play with, you’ll find that the supernatural can serve as a powerful tool and venue to display various aspects of your character(s). Really, it actually demonstrates quite a few things.
- One: The supernatural element can reveal something initially about the character, like judging people based on their clothing and appearance. This is more apparent in abilities that are meant to be more flashy in nature, the type that are easy to see or detect.
- Two: The power/ability can match or possibly contradict the character’s personality, creating a new layer of intrigue or conflict on its own. Imagine a rather refined looking character suddenly having centipedes crawl out of every open portion of their coat! Definitely provides a strong, conflicting image. Or perhaps a pacifist who possesses the ability to make things explode...pretty problematic.
- Three: The supernatural element also allows us as viewers to see how the character thinks and how they use their exceptional abilities in different situations. Arguably the most fun part about having supernatural abilities is seeing them applied to both age-old problems and new altercations. Lost your key? What if the character can shapeshift their finger to match the key, effectively lockpicking the door open?
- The Supernatural Can Also Be Commentary
The supernatural elements of a story have just as much potential to tell an important lesson or ethical tale as any other medium. In fact, just look at the X-Men series. By precisely using powers as the medium, the stories of the X-Men cover social issues such as segregation, racism, religious beliefs and numerous others. Had there not been a captivating supernatural element within the series, it may have come off more dry and political, in turn changing it into a less compelling tale.
Of course, these examples are just some of the main ways the “super” element can add to a story and its characters. And again, if you were imagining superheroes in these situations, you could just as easily replace them with some sorcerer who uses magic in a similar fashion and facing different problems. This is precisely why the inclusion of the supernatural has and always will be one of my favorite aspects of fiction.
Maybe you’re like me and have made attempts to create a superpowered character, possibly several. And most likely, you weren’t always pleased or as happy with it as you might have pictured. Don’t worry, the same goes for me and pretty much anyone who tackles such a thing.
That's why I'd like to share one of my characters that I think is a bit more refined. Feel free to borrow and tweak the power or the person as you see fit. Hopefully this might actually spark some inspiration in others in terms of how to look at an ability and try a different approach.
Without further ado, here’s the profile of a minor antagonist idea I had in mind for comic (I apologize for no images, didn’t draw anything for him).
Name: Riot Carmine
Alias: Radiohead (Yes, inspired by the band)
Origin: Native to a parallel Earth where everyone has supernatural abilities that are genetically passed on, Riot was born to parents of different power bloodlines. His father had the ability to manipulate and control electronic devices while his mother could manipulate any sound she produced. This strange blend of abilities is what created his utterly unique power of Sound Source Control.
Equipped with a highly versatile and potentially dangerous ability, Riot was recruited by a secretive intelligence agency that sought to be a world order. Now an agent, he goes by the codename Radiohead.
Powers: Sound Source Control is the ability to have full control over any one thing capable of creating sound. Radiohead can use his sense of hearing—or any device that may amplify his hearing—to identify a sound source and choose it. By choosing a sound source, this allows Radiohead to do a few things:
- Firstly, let’s say Radiohead chooses a radio as the source to control. By doing this, he can manipulate the volume (i.e. muting, lowering volume, or even turning up the volume), heighten the sound waves to create sonic booms or even explosions and transmitting his voice over radio waves.
- Another example would be to listen to a person and choose them as the source. By doing this, he can make them speak uncontrollably, become mute, heighten their hearing to violent levels, make them deaf or even control their heart as it is its own source of constant sound.
Maybe you’re thinking “That’s awesome!” or “That seems too extreme!" Either way, I wanted to share, and I hope it was at the very least entertaining as an idea.
I'm looking forward to a challenging semester in Creative Writing II! You can learn more about UAT's general education offerings here.