How to Write Powers in a Story

This is something I master. I’ve written powers in stories since I was a kid. I’ve always been attracted to this, and my power systems have had many names across the years. Nowadays, I simply call it Ki, that internal energy. My characters can feel their Kis, work to manipulate it, and make it do whatever they want. They fight using it, they connect their Kis to the environment to change the environment. I know how it works, how it’s represented in the story, what they have to do to train their Kis and the consequence of using too much of it. Now, I’m going to teach you what I know about how to write powers in a story.

How to Write Powers in a Story: Main Tips

  • How does the magic system work in your story?
  • The training
  • Physical representation
  • The feelings
  • The world around
  • The consequences

How to Write Powers in a Story: How does the magic system work in your story?

Every story is different, and so are every magic powers. You have to think about everything regarding this. How is the magic? What does it do? Where do the powers come from? Does everybody has powers or is it just some specific people? Why?

Before you learn how to write the representation of the actual powers, you have to think more about your magic system as a whole and where these powers fit the story. Why do you need them? Why do you need to write a story with powers? Would it work without it?

For example, my story is about another world, Maëy, and every race there can feel the Ki, but only the Elementals can control it. So, they’re used by the Government to control Beasts, who are creatures made of pure Ki and energy. They’re also the only ones that can go to Earth, as they’re the closest to humans. Both worlds are twins, Earth and Maëy.

Take some moments to do worldbuilding. If you need help, you can read about my worldbuilding article here and how fake news can help you in worldbuilding here.

How to Write Powers in a Story: The training

About the actual powers now: how do the characters train these powers? Like, how do they become stronger? For example, in Harry Potter, they have to learn all the magic, and then they can advance to more complicated magic. In my story, they train it with meditation and martial arts. Meditation allows them to feel the Ki inside of them and manipulate it, and martial arts allow them to control the Ki inside of them and in the environment around them. In Star Wars, there’s the Jedi training. In Naruto, they train their Chakra.

It’s important to decide how your powers will advance because this will define in which direction your story is going. It’s probably going to be important to put some training in your story, to make your powers stronger. That will define part of the plot.

How to Write Powers in a Story: Physical representation

This is a very crucial part, how will the magic powers be represented visually? For example, the powers in my story are very cliché, with colorful energy coming out of their hands and bodies.

But, for example, in Harry Potter, usually the magic is invisible. You can’t see Vingardium Leviosa, although sometimes you can see the light rays coming from the wands.

In Star Wars, the Jedis have lightsabers, but they can also manipulate the Force which is also invisible. You can decide how you’ll represent it. It’s important to decide that early on because it will influence the description of everything else.

How to Write Powers in a Story: The feelings

How will your characters feel when they manipulate the powers? Will they feel something physically, for example, electricity on their skins, goosebumps, butterflies? Or won’t they? Will it hurt? They don’t need to feel anything inside but they will probably be thinking about something.

The first time their powers are activated, will they be happy? Excited? Worried? Scared?

The powers can be something that isn’t human but the characters will react as humans – even if they aren’t humans. You are, so you can only think in a certain way.

How to Write Powers in a Story: The world around

How will these powers affect the world around them? Will they be able to break stones and move mountains? Or will the environment be distorted like with LSD? Or maybe nothing will happen. It’s everything up to you. However, you have to take into consideration that your powers will shape the world in some way, even if it is that nothing will happen.

How to Write Powers in a Story: The consequences

What will happen if your character tries to use too many powers? Will they be dizzy? Will they die? Or maybe there are no limits, they can use as many powers as they want.

In my story, if they use too much Ki, they could potentially die because their bodies will desintegrate.

In Naruto, if they use too much Chakra, they get really weak and simply are forced to stop.

In Star Wars, they can’t use too much Force, it simply won’t work.

You have to decide what the consequences will be for the exploration of these powers.

These consequences can appear in the environment too. If the Ki is too manipulated, in my story, it can disintegrate the world around them too.

How to Write Powers in a Story: Final Thoughts

I hope this helped you to learn how to write powers in a story. As anything in a story, it needs planning. You have to think about the before, the during, and the after. How the powers are going to develop, why do they exist, and what are the consequences of their existence?

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