Thanks, Linnea! I’m going to absorb all this and let it percolate.
Also, Neely’s ability can be blocked by a certain type of magical charm. And by someone with the same, yet more developed, ability.
Hint, hint next story’s antagonist… 😉
I’ve been thinking about this lesson since you first posted it. I’m not sure I’ve quite got it in terms of this particular character, but I understand what you’re saying. ~Cheryl
Neely can kill anyone she wants to. However, she’s petrified of powerful alpha shifters, even though she has the ability to stop them. There’s a mental block in her brain that prevents her from achieving full agency with her ability (the internal series arc). It’s a visceral fear that holds her down as surely as if she were locked up in chains. Staying true to her fear while having her be proactive was challenging and I’m still not sure I got it right.
<–An idea to play with, in regards to her “blocking” ability, is to make it inconsistent and/or dependent on some other exterior whatever that’s, well, unreliable. Even Superman has his kryptonite. I love the fact she has this super-power, but it must also come with a price or a problem or any combo thereof. The fear/mental block is a good start. But if it’s a REGULAR “preventative,” then its very regularity can weaken it. Just IMHO and IMHE. Run the suggestion through your brain. If it gives you happy-evil vibes, play with it. If not, ignore it.
At first, I had her going in with the main male protagonist (MMP) to fight the Big Bad (BB). MMP dealt the final blow to BB. Now I have her going in on her own to take down the BB she fears using only the ability she also fears.
(Note: This is not a PNR. It’s a UF w/romance)
To do this, I realized the BB could not (only) be the enemy of the MMP with Neely defending him; BB had to be Neely’s enemy and the danger to her from BB had to be grave and urgent. <– Yep yep yep. I had to go back and rewrite a few scenes, add some details, but when I did that, and BB emerged as her enemy instead of only the MMP’s, her going full badass on him on her own made more sense.
Seems simple when I look at it now, but I didn’t get it until I thought about why she’d do something like this. Something she would never do in normal life.
There are variations on this. BB doesn’t have to be Neely’s long-time enemy or even perhaps know her personally (at least, not in chapter one), as long as BB develops into an enemy who knows her personally (or what she represents, personally).
Sometimes Dr Evil knows James Bond, sometimes Dr Evil doesn’t know James Bond UNTIL 007 targets Dr Evil. But, yes, conflict works best (and characters in conflict work best) when it’s urgent and personal. Nebulous and generic are weak and ring falsely. People don’t generally risk their lives for an “idea.” Yes, liberty and freedom and safety are “ideas/ideals,” and cops and firefighters (and 007) battle to defend those daily, but those ideas have personal faces. IE: Dad and grandad were cops, so I want to continue the legacy, earn the respect of my father, make what is TO ME a personal contribution to the town where I live. Now, yes, sometimes a person/character is thrust into a position which initially is only an “idea” and not personal: IE: drafted into the military. But those who succeed almost always pair up their circumstance with something personal in a good way, or even selfish in a bad way (ie: if I stay in the military I can get free college and healthcare or whatever…or wearing the uniform makes the person/character feel powerful…and we’d need to know why the character desires that.)
People do all kind of crazy stuff in real life for no logical reason. Characters MUST have a logical reason. (IE: Fiction must be more logical than real life.)
The fact that issues between BB and Neely have a strong personal element (however that developed) will always be a much tighter story (IE: the reader will buy your next book) than one where generic good is flung up against generic evil.