The Power (Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Horror)

Title: The Power

Intended audience: New Adult

Genre: Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Horror

Length: Possibly around 50k words (although there may also be a part two).

Summary

Set in the future, a mad Scientist’s experiment has changed the world, giving his test group of humans the ability to utilize the power of Magick. The dominant gene has passed down family lines, until nearly every human has the ability to use it and magick is the norm.

Sofia lives in a utopian city governed by an Oligarchy Government. Her family is one of the ruling families of the city, with a focus on military power, and keeping the city safe from ‘The Power’ - an addictive ritualistic form of black magick which warps its user beyond recognition. The Power is rarely used, as the knowledge of how to use it is passed down from one person to another.

On the eve of her 21st birthday, Sofia joins ‘The Legion’, a division her family commands. The Legion’s primary aim is uncovering and eradicating threats of The Power from the city.

Yet, under the seemingly utopian government, there lies a hidden darker side. Humans without the ability to use magick are rare, but those who do not have the ability are immune to the effects of all magick. As the politics between the ruling families have grown ever tenser and magickal power plays an increasingly common occurrence, the families have begun to enslave those without magick - and hence able to tell the difference between reality and fiction - by use of force.

During one of her travels outside the city’s parameters with The Legion, Sofia stumbles across a human - named Cal - born without the ability to use magick. A friendship quickly forms. She learns how those without magick live, and about the world outside her city. She also learns the truth about the slavery enforced by her family and other families.

After Sofia’s regular disappearances from The Legion’s camp begin to arouse suspicion, the commander of The Legion follows her and overhears her talking to Cal. As a result, Cal is captured, and Sofia restrained. Turning her magick on her restraints and freeing herself, Sofia manages to escape.

Alone and desperate, Sofia takes shelter in a cave. A mysterious figure appears and initially wary, Sofia challenges them. The figure reveals they know how to use The Power and Sofia is about to try and escape, when the figure informs her they know how to save Cal from the enslavement awaiting him. The figure scrys Cal and shows Sofia the terrible fate he’s being subjected to.

Out of sheer desperation, Sofia doubtfully agrees to do one ritual in an attempt to free Cal. The use of The Power changes her for good. It is addictive, and no matter how much she tries, she finds she cannot stop using it. With every use of the Power her mind grows darker and more warped.

Cal successfully escapes the city and his slavery, but the Sofia he finds waiting for him outside the city’s boundaries is no longer the Sofia he remembers.

Major Plotlines:

  • Sofia joins The Legion, a group aimed at eradicating black magick (The Power).
  • During her travels with The Legion, Sofia becomes friends with Cal, a human without the ability to use magick.
  • The Legion’s commander follows her, discovers Cal, and as a result he is captured.
  • Sofia flees, finding sanctuary in a cave, where she meets a user of The Power. They manipulate her into using The Power by using her friendship with Cal against her. Reluctantly she agrees to one ritual, not realising it’ll put her on a slippery slope.
  • Cal is freed, but it’s at a price. The Sofia he once knew no longer exists.

Notes:

  • Something I really want to focus on with this story is morality. What does it take for a person to fall from ‘good’ to ‘bad’, and at what point do they become unrecognisable? Will they turn on those they’ve loved to gain more power? How can they be redeemed?
  • I’m intending to write this from Sofia’s point of view.
  • There may be a love interest between Sofia and Cal. I haven’t planned for one at the moment, and if it happens it will not be a key focus of the story.
  • There may be a part two to this, either published within the same story, or as a seperate one. I currently have a vague idea of it being from Cal’s point of view, but have not planned it out yet and am focusing on the planning for this one (planning is a fairly new concept for me).

Thank you to anyone who looks over/ gives advice on this, and I hope I’ve done this right :heart:

(Also, the story’s cover, just because I couldn’t resist making it…)

Summary

The%20Power

3 Likes

I want to give you an objective review. But I know what you’ve done to me and I don’t forget puns. Or forgive.

Currently, at least half, or more, of this is world building or extraneous information. I need none of it.

I don’t know anything about Sofia or Cal as people because nothing about them is described. I know about a scientist setting up a future state of magick humans, I know about oligarchs and Power and black magick and non-magick users. But I don’t know anything about the leads, what they want out of life, what they’re struggling with, why they might agree to do the things they do, or anything like that. Is Sofia happy about joining the Legion? In opposition? Indifferent? Does she not know about the power struggles and comes to recognize them? Is she slow to learn? Is she empathetic or a miniature tyrant who needs her eyes opened?

You can remove the majority of this from the summary. Losing the world building helps to give me more clarity, gives you more space to discuss the characters and how they interact with this journey, and sets up intrigue to want to better know the world you allude to around them.

2 Likes

I’ll hold off the puns for now. At least in this thread. I promise. I mean, I held myself back from making a pun just then so… :grin:

This is a very fair point. World building is something I’ve zoomed in on in the past, and as a result lost the characters and their individuality in amongst all the world building. It’s also something I want to address (and get my mind round) in this new work.

How would you suggest I build up the characters? ‘Asking’ them questions seems a good way to go. Which aspects of their personality should I initially focus on (e.g. more characteristics, or rather how they’d act in ‘real life’ scenarios), and what sorts of questions are critical to ask - the more day to day mundane ones, specialised ones or pretty much a mixture of anything which is relevant? How much character planning should I do before I actually start writing the story - should I try and plan out every detail, or allow them to evolve more naturally? It’s 3am so I apologise if none of this makes sense

Thank you, I’ll try doing this. Also thanks for all the advice, it’s really useful and I appreciate it :revolving_hearts:

1 Like

If you want to discover who your character is, you need to ask a series of questions:

Who are they by the end of the story? Ergo, who are they at the start to become that person at the end? What sort of events will they need to encounter in order to help learn these things?

Alt, since you already have a plotline, you’ll have to ask why the characters would make any of the decisions to put them in these situations or how they would react to them. What type of person are they? How do they feel about learning about non-magicks? And why do they react that way instead of any other way? What happened to them to shape their worldview? Is that worldview iron-clad or flexible?

3 Likes

Thank you, this has given me a lot to think about :smile: I’ll definitely focus on those types of questions and cracking the character building :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

@nick Here’s an updated version :heart: I tried to focus on cutting out the world building, and more on the characterisation aspect.

Summary

In a City where elite families preside over its Government via use of the Numina (a Magick-like power strongly connected to the environment, which almost all people can wield), Sofia - a spoilt member of one of the ruling families - is determined to go against her family’s traditions. She wants no part in their subtle politics with the other ruling families, a fact she strives to make clear at every opportunity.

On the eve of her 21st birthday, for her disobedience, she is sent to a military-like division her family commands called ‘The Legion’. The Legion is aimed eradicating threads of ‘The Power’ (a dark, ritualistic version of the Numina which consumes its user) from the City. Used to a cushy, comforted life, Sofia is not happy by this new development.

Outside the City walls, life is completely different from what she is used to. No longer is she allowed to wander as she pleases, and much to her disgust she is treated exactly the same as the rest of the Legion members. After she is ‘disciplined’ for misconduct, she spitefully decides to flout the rules and leave the boundaries of the Legion’s camp.

During her exploration, Sofia stumbles across a rare human - named Cal - born without the ability to wield the Numina. Initially distrustful and suspicious, she challenges him, but her curiousity gets the better of her, and she makes a deal to sneak back and talk with him another time. She manages to return to Camp without anybody noticing her disappearance.

A friendship quickly forms between Sofia and Cal. Cal is a patient mentor, and tempers Sofia’s impulsive side. She learns how those without access to the Numina live. Much to her horror and disgust, she also learns the truth about her family’s use of non-Numina wielding people as slaves. Cal speaks with passion about freeing the slaves and revealing the truth to the City, and Sofia’s conscience causes her to think along the same lines, although she is extremely reluctant to publicly act on the knowledge.

After Sofia’s regular disappearances from The Legion’s camp are noticed and begin to arouse suspicion, the commander of The Legion follows her and overhears her talking to Cal. As a result, Cal is captured, and Sofia restrained. Angry and betrayed, she utilises the Numina on her restraints and escapes.

Alone and desperate, Sofia takes shelter in a cave, where she comes across a figure with knowledge of The Power. Her interest is peaked when the figure informs her they know how to save Cal from enslavement. Selflessly (for one of the first times in her life), Sofia pledges herself learning the Power in order to help save Cal. The use of the Power changes her for good.

Cal successfully escapes the city and his slavery, but the Sofia he finds waiting for him outside the city’s boundaries is no longer the Sofia he remembers, but a far more twisted, dark and vengeful version.

Okay so, with the world building removed, it becomes a little clearer what the character journey is, but also exposes a new issue around a lack of clarity in exactly which type of character this character is. I think I have the answer but I’m still not fully certain.

Sofia is a spoilt child who doesn’t want to take part in the politics of being a royal family member. Not wanting something still leaves the question of what she does want, which isn’t particularly clear. For example, is she not interested in their politics because she views them as corrupt? As meaningless? As joyless? As tedious? Does she wish the whole royal society would come down (not realizing it is that society which gives her access to the ability to even say it should come down)?

There’s a lot of ways to tackle this type of character and it will impact and affect their journey and help me understand what she’s struggling with. I think she doesn’t want to be involved in the politics because she just wants to be a rich, hedonistic kid, but the narration choice calls the politics “subtle” which means she identifies something about how they’re done that she doesn’t like. Usually if someone is opposed to subtle politics, it’s because they want open politics, whereas she, I think, just doesn’t want politics at all, or anything.

This would help me understand how she adapts to the legion and why her family sends her. If she were demanding they change, they would send her to get her to see things their way and why they are necessary. If she were just spoilt and didn’t want anything to do with anything, they might be sending her to help her learn discipline (in which case they would likely continue to dote on her from afar because parents are bad that way).

Basically, I need to better understand the lesson she’s learning here. Why is she self absorbed? Because she’s just very, very wealthy? It’s super hard to relate to that (hence these types of characters are usually supporting characters and the story is told through the eyes of a pauper type), so you may want to add in some other reasons for her to be the way she is or make her the type who is rich and thinks that her parents’ way of doing things is wrong and should change but when she’s thrown into the actual world of the poor, she longs for her pampered life. That would possibly be the hardest way to do it, but also the most interesting. It would also be an interesting commentary on particular political beliefs currently going around, namely on how people don’t understand privilege or standing or institutional aid. The entire Libertarian ideology, pretty much always supported by people who are independently well-off, is built on this notion of basically “my life is great and I don’t appear to need the government so nobody needs it and then we’d all live free, happy lives, just like mine” because they typically don’t understand the limitations poverty and -isms put on people.