Special Abilities in Film and Literature

A guest post from ericuseshiswords. Find him on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram for more great content.

In the majority of fictional worlds we consume, we see people who are different than those around them. Harry Potter was a wizard living amongst muggles. Gandalf has lived for thousands of years, using his fantastical abilities to great effect.

As you can probably tell, many special powers come down to simply “magic”. Someone was born a witch or wizard or with the gift of flight or whatever it may be, and that’s that.

But if this is overdone, how can a potential author separate themself from the crowd. How can you make your characters special without simply giving them an overused magical quality and a weak explanation?

Simply put, you need to make the special abilities in your world unique. Create a backstory that goes deeper than “He is magical because I SAY he is magical!” Now more than ever, readers and viewers want to dive deep into fantasy worlds, and creating a unique reason for special abilities helps them do just that.

Let’s take a look at a few samples.

X-MEN: Genetic Mutations

Wolverine heals and has blade-like claws sprout from his hands-on command. Cyclops fires beams from his eyes. Jean Grey controls things with her mind. Each character has a unique special ability, but each ability is tied to a common cause: freak genetic mutations.

So-called mutants have mutations in their genetic code that give them radical powers; but, like most mutations, these also come with downsides. Wolverine feels the pain every time those claws come out. Cyclops needs special glasses to hold in his beams.

By giving them a scientific backing, the X-Men went from simply being superheroes to being a unique relative, the Mutants.

The Stormlight Archives

Written by Brandon Sanderson, the Stormlight Archives are set in a mystical world much like Middle Earth. Highstorms sweep through the land with mystical energies swirling around in them. The rich and powerful own shardplate and shardblades, powerful pieces of armor and weaponry that charge through the highstorms.

Likewise, Surgebinders are the closest there comes to magicians in this fantasy world. They can bind different ‘systems’ – such as gravity and adhesion – and manipulate them. Users do this through binding with a spren, a small mystical creature. Like shardplate, Surgebinders need to recharge in highstorms.

By creating a storm system that really fuels almost everything mystical in the Stormlight world, Sanderson thought up a unique way of giving his characters special abilities.

Star Wars – Jedi/Sith Abilities

Although it annoyed a lot of fans in the process, the Force got an explanation. Midi-chlorians  – microscopic organisms  – live in every race in the galaxy and give them the powers of the force. Some people have more, some people have less.

From there, through focus and meditation, users can increase the potency of the Midi-chlorians, therefore increasing their powers.

All three of these are great examples of different ways to introduce magical powers into your universe. People latch onto unique ideas, so if you can discover a different approach to what you want to achieve, you’re on your way to success.


What are your favourite uses of power or ability in film or literature? Comment below or message me with your ideas!


RELATED LINKS:

Worldbuilding – Meraxor

How Brandon Sanderson helped me with my writing

Brandon Sanderson on writing

Free extracts from The Shield of Soren

My publisher’s website – https://www.nextchapter.pub/ – has featured some free extracts from my epic fantasy novel The Shield of Soren.

This book is part of The Light and Shadow Chronicles, a series of epic fantasy stories which can be read in any order. Find out more about the series by clicking on the image below:

If you are new to this fantasy world, or have only read one of the books, these extracts will help to give you a flavour of what my writing is about. I hope you enjoy them!

D.M. Cain

Excerpt 1: White Feathers

Excerpt 2: Inferior Genes

Exclusive chapters, inside news, and loads of freebies!

My latest book to be released, Origin of Shadow, is a dark exploration into madness, destiny, honour and brutality. Follow Vincent Wilder’s descent into the murky recesses of ultimate power in this new novella from The Light and Shadow Chronicles.

Origin of Shadow by D.M. Cain book cover poster and review quotes

Not sure if it’s your thing? Get Chapters 1 & 2 of Origin of Shadow for FREE here and take a look. If you love it, great! If you don’t, no harm done.


As part of the research and planning for Origin of Shadow, I had to get into the head of main character and anti-hero Vincent Wilder. It was fun to give him quirks, neuroses and talents. As an inside peek, here is the first ever mind map I doodled when I was getting to know the man himself:

As part of the lead up to the release of Origin of Shadow, I will be putting together a video interview, in which I will answer fan questions about the book, the series, myself as an author, or even what my favourite flavour of ice cream is. The beauty is, the questions come from YOU. So, please comment on this page, or send me an email to dmcain84@gmail.com with your questions. Thank you!


RELATED LINKS:

Worldbuilding – Meraxor

Genesis of Light

The Light and Shadow Chronicles – A unique fantasy world


Why not help yourself to a few freebies while you’re here? Click on any of the images below to be taken to a whole range of awesome freebies!

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The Spirit Shield Saga – ‘rip-roaring’ epic fantasy!

Hello immersive fantasy fans! Today, I have a guest on my blog (and I am very excited about it!). Please welcome the talented, multi-award-winning fantasy author, Susan Faw. She is touring her epic series, The Spirit Shield Saga and has answered some questions and given us some insight into her awesome books. Enjoy!

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

There are multiple POV characters in this series (every epic fantasy does this) but the main thread revolves around Cayden. I knew Cayden’s fatal flaw from the beginning, and stayed true to that flaw throughout the series. I cannot even mention it here, as it would be a major spoiler, for those who have not read the series. Suffice it to say, that it creates no end of problems for those around him.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

The title is another Easter egg. It has two meanings, which should become clear as you read the book. Beyond that, I googled the name and also searched amazon and other book sites to make sure that the title was not like anyone else’s.

Who designed your book covers?

The Spirit Shield Saga covers were designed by Greg Simanson Design, you can find his website here:

https://www.simansondesign.com/book-covers

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I am going to stick with actors from the Harry Potter films 😊 Helen Bonham Carter would make a perfect Helga. I think I’d like to see Emma Watson play Avery, and for Cayden, I’d pick someone like Matthew Lewis. Evanna Lynch would make a great Artio. And Mordecai by Ralph Fiennes. It would be great to see him do something comedic. Ziona is a tough one, more like Legolas’s love, of the LOTR, I think.

Soul Survivor
Prequel to the Spirit Shield Saga
by Susan Faw
Genre: YA Fantasy

An ancient feud that spills from the realm of the Gods. Four desperate agendas that cross the line. And a boy with a mysterious box is the world’s only hope.

Helga, demi-goddess of the underworld has but one true desire, a young man named Genii. But Genii belongs to her sister star gazing sister, Artio.
Obsessed with possessing Genii any way she can, Helga sets herself against her siblings. The vicious rivalry sets brother against sister and flesh against spirit, as they battle each other for ultimate control of the souls of the dead.
Helga summons a great evil, spawn of the underworld, which left unchecked, will sweep all life into the depths of the underworld, where Helga rules supreme.
In the epic battle that ensues, only one will be left standing, and if it is the wrong one, how will the world survive?
Download this tale of love, jealousy, and magic, today, and dive into this award-winning epic mythology fantasy series!
**Get it FREE!! **
Seer of Souls
Book One of The Spirit Shield Saga
“A Rip-Roaring Series Opener!” – Kirkus Reviews
The time for hiding is finished. The dead are restless.
Fate and destiny collide.
Twins Cayden and Avery Tiernan have grown up in isolation on the fringe of the realm. Gifted with forbidden skills, they hide their growing magical powers. Ancient prophecies speak of the ones with the power to depose the queen.
To protect her throne, Queen Alcina scours the land for evidence of magic, while the darker force she serves threatens the land with chaos. She is not the only huntress however. Primordial seekers discover the twins first but before they can escape, the death of a queen’s guard puts the entire village in jeopardy. To save their town, the twins flee, only to be dragged toward an unknown destiny.
Guided by her gift, Avery senses lies and treachery where others see only truth. Dare she trust her instincts? For Cayden, an irresistible voice whispers to him. Does it belong to the souls of the dead and are they calling him home?
Buy Seer of Souls and plunge into the first book of the Spirit Shield Saga today!
Soul Sanctuary
Book Two of The Spirit Shield Saga
A temple awakened. The forbidden mountain stirs.
The dead are missing.
Snatched from her home by a Primordial Seeker, seventeen-year-old Avery is imprisoned by the people she intended to serve. In a desperate bid for freedom, she escapes, only to find herself racing against time to save those who seek to use her.
Driven by jealousy, the lust for power and the stain of ancient crimes, conflicting factions struggle to gain control of the magic of a Spirit Shield. Avery must dodge all who cross her path, for each group vies to control her actions.
Aided by the mythical creatures of her native land, she discovers that a true Spirit Shield is much more than a simple priestess. She must fight for control of the souls of the world, and in doing so must face her worst fear of all: family.
Purchase the next exciting chapter in this must read epic saga, today!
Soul Sacrifice
Book Three of The Spirit Shield Saga
The underworld writhes. Terror unleashed. Souls enslaved.
The Spirit Shields with memories returned are plunged into a conflict older than mankind. The pending battle pits family against spirit and flesh. The godlings face off for ultimate control of the souls of the dead, each with their own agenda, for there is no love lost between these siblings.
Helga, goddess of the underworld, tightens her hold on those who hold the key to ultimate victory. Meanwhile, Avery struggles to convince her sister Artio that unless they become allies they will fail in their misaligned quest. Cayden, with the aid of Brimstone, struggles to fulfill a destiny prophesied since their original deaths long ago.
Can four warring siblings find peace and forgiveness? Or will they battle to the end of the world, sacrificing all living souls in the conflict?
Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the Spirit Shield Saga! Purchase your copy today!
*Winner, Dante Rossetti First In Category, Chanticleer Reviews (2018)*
Get the Box set here and save!!
Winner of the Dante Rossetti Grand Prize for Best Young Adult Fiction of 2016 (Seer of Souls, Chanticleer Reviews) and First in Category, Dante Rossetti Best Young Adult Fiction of 2017 (Soul Sanctuary, Chanticleer Reviews) Susan loves to bring new worlds and fantasy adventures to young adults and inspire them to join her on her make-believe journeys. She is actively crafting stories that sing in your memory. You can find Susan at http://www.susanfaw.com, on twitter @susandfaw or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SusanFaw.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
Origin of Shadow sneak peek

Epic fantasy novella – Origin of Shadow

Origin of Shadow – Find out where the Brotherhood began

As many of you are aware, I released a novella last year called Genesis of Light. It told the story of the beginning of the Children of Light, and gave the start of Callista’s story in the war.

DM Cain Genesis of Light multiple promotional formats image

Well, now I am preparing to release the second half of that story.

Origin of Shadow covers the same time period as Genesis of Light, but from the perspective of Vincent Wilder. Vincent is the leader of the Brotherood of Shadow and this novella tells his beginnings in the seedy underworld of crime.

Creativia (my publisher) has accepted the manuscript and it is now going through final editing, with a view to being released later this year.

I can’t reveal the cover design just yet, as it is still being finalised. However, here is a sneak peek at some of the first art draft (credit again to Irina French).

Origin of Shadow cover art sneak peek

A blurb and extract for Origin of Shadow will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

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New fantasy titles coming this year!

So, I’ve been out of the loop for a while now (thanks to my gorgeous new arrival <3) but I am pleased to say that this year I am back with two new titles in the Light and Shadow Chronicles series!

Two novellas – ‘Genesis of Light’ and ‘Origin of Shadow’ will be released in 2018 and I will begin edits on the recently completed full length novel ‘The Sins of Silas’. How exciting!

Instagram poster 1.jpg

The Black River Chronicles

Today I am delighted to hand my blog over to the wonderful L.G. Surgeson who has just relaunched her stunning Black River Chronicles series. She’s here to tell us a bit about it:

brcpromo (4)

About the Chronicles

The Black River Chronicles is a series of the tales that follows the exploits of The Aberddu Guild of Adventurers – a rag-gag collection of mercenaries, thieves, priests and misguided hero-types that seem to wonder into the path of fate with worrying frequency. It’s an odd life as an adventurer,  particularly when you joined up for fame and fortune but find yourself up to your knees in the middens of history.  In the first three stories, the adventurers take on ancient evils,  wicked demon-worshippers and a maniacal God in the full knowledge that unless they rob someone on the way home they won’t get paid.  Some of them will live, some will die and some will last forever. Join the adventure and follow the Black River to see where it leads.

SOFpromo

Praise for the Chronicles

The Summer of Fire:

“… the characters carry the day. I loved the characters and there are plenty of them.”

“This was a good book, very captivating”

The Winter That Follows:

“The characters are rich and deep, and give the feeling of having lived. I look forward to the next in the series.”

The Freetown Bridge:

“The story moves on quickly and brought me to genuine laughter and even a heartfelt tear. I am surprised that this is the first book by Surgeson; with a start like this I expect great things to come!!”

“An excellent first edition of a novel to rival the current fantasy fiction favourites.”

About the Author

author profile 3LG Surgeson is a writer and teacher who lives in a cottage by a river in a little Welsh village with her long-suffering partner and their two cats. She writes novels and articles in the spare time she creates by avoiding the housework and pretending to be a hermit. She likes to write fantasy adventure stories and quasi-autobiographical tales about teaching, which are equally fantastical and no less adventurous but have fewer elves. She also writes articles and blog posts about subjects close to her heart, normally education and mental health. When she’s not writing, she likes to poke about in her garden, pretending to grow things and disturbing the fairies. Her cats like to help. They aren’t good at it.

 

Social Media Links

Blog

https://aberdduadventures.wordpress.com/

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/LGSurgeson/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/LGSurgeson

Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/lgsurgeson/

Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LG-Surgeson/e/B006K18OTM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6093663.L_G_Surgeson

Brand new fast-paced fantasy

My brand new epic fantasy novel The Shield of Soren has just gone live on Amazon!

Grab your copy here

What an amazing journey the author leads you on! With remarkable characters, a sensational and catchy story line, and a captivating ending, you won’t want the story to end.  Amazon reader

The characters are superbly written. Amazon reader.

This is a great fast-paced fantasy with very memorable characters. Amazon reader.

Soren postcard front 2

The Shield of Soren by D.M. Cain banner epic fantasy

Which Light and Shadow Chronicle characters will we see in The Shield of Soren?

I recently sent out a questionnaire asking readers what they wanted to know about The Shield of Soren before it was released. The most popular response (by far!) was that people wanted to know which characters from A Chronicle of Chaos they would be seeing again. So I’ve put together a list:

Callista Nienna – a figure of authority in A Chronicle of Chaos, Callista still features in her role as leader of the Children of Light, but we will see more of her as a mother as well in The Shield of Soren.

Vincent Wilder – the dark and foreboding leader of the Brotherhood of Shadow will make a few evil appearances in The Shield of Soren.

Raven Lennox – while Raven Lennox was a father figure to the headstrong protagonist of A Chronicle of Chaos, he is the combat mentor of wayward child, Soren. He is a main character in this book as opposed to a support character.

Deacon Thialdor – Deacon only appears a few times in A Chronicle of Chaos, showing off his impressive redwings. In The Shield of Soren, he is major character who has not yet gained his unusual power.

Soren Nitaya – Soren only appears very briefly in A Chronicle of Chaos, but is the main character of this book.

The Bavelize – we will get to see more of the mysterious smoky presence that guides the Brotherhood of Shadow.

Tattooed man in black – in A Chronicle of Chaos there is a mysterious man covered in tattoos and shrouded in darkness. We learn little about him in the first book. He will make another enigmatic appearance in this book.

There will also be some brand-new characters introduced. Some major people in A Chronicle of Chaos will not appear in this book at all (Chaos, Anathema, Phantom, Mikhail.)

Here is the family tree for characters that appear in The Shield of Soren:

Soren Nitaya's Family Tree order changed