Advice and Warnings About Overpowered Characters in Novels

Beware of overpowered characters In NOvels

Authors have to resist the impulse to make their characters too powerful. If the character is made too powerful, that character will also need to have a weakness as well. Having a character that is too powerful without any weaknesses can ruin a story. Because of this, you should beware overpowered characters in novels.


Examples of Overpowered Characters In Novels

Take Superman for instance. He is insanely powerful. To make a credible threat, the villains have to also be incredibly powerful. The writers for Superman quickly realized they had made Superman too powerful. They had to give him a weakness. That weakness was Kryptonite. With Kryptonite, a less powerful villain would at least have a chance at beating Superman. Over the years, he was given other weaknesses, such as a vulnerability to magic.

The same is true for most overpowered characters, even villains. An example of this would be Dracula. Because he is so powerful, he also needed weaknesses. Because he is vulnerable to fire, wooden stakes, and sunlight, ordinary men have a chance at defeating him.


Unintended Consequences of Overpowered Characters In Novels

Now, let’s assume you are creating a character and you give him the powers of Superman without any weaknesses. You will then have to create a villain equally as powerful. Otherwise, your hero would not have any problems at all. The bad guys wouldn’t stand a chance. This would make your story boring.

The same is true for the villain. If your villain is too powerful, the hero won’t stand a chance at winning. Some authors deal with this by having a group of heroes defeats the bad guy as a team. Don’t rely on luck or coincidence to help the hero win. The reader might feel tricked if you do that.

Another reason not to make your hero too powerful is that means the character doesn’t have any room to grow. Readers want to take a journey with the character. They want the hero to get more and more powerful. Starting out with less power and gradually getting more powerful throughout the book makes the character more interesting as well.


Becoming An Overpowered Character Too Quickly

If you insist on making an overpowered character, at least follow one simple piece of advice. Let the powers develop slowly. When you are allowing your character to get more powerful, don’t let this happen too quickly. If your hero starts the book not knowing one end of a sword from the other, and in a matter of weeks or months becomes the best swordsman in the world, the reader will not believe it.

After all, the villain might have been the most skilled swordsman after practicing for many years. Having the hero magically get all the same skills in a short period makes the reader think the writer is cheating to help the hero win or too lazy to develop those skills in the book over a more reasonable amount of time.

Consider Harry Potter. He didn’t have a chance of winning a duel with anyone in first chapters of the book. It wasn’t until after seven years of training at Hogwarts that he could reasonably expect to do well against Voldemort. Until that time, he confronted smaller threats and was protected by other characters against the big threats.


Overpowered Weapons in Novels

The same can be said for any special gift or weapon the hero is given. Don’t give the hero the ultimate weapon for the same reasons. If you do decide to give the hero an overpowered weapon, make the hero learn how to use it. After all, even if you are given Excalibur, you still need to learn how to use it.

If they are given some overpowered weapon or ability, put conditions on its use. Guns don’t have an endless supply of bullets. An empty gun is much less useful than a sword. If you do give them such a weapon or ability, limit how many times it can be used, where it can be used, or how it can be used.


One More Piece of Advice For Overpowered Characters in Novels

If you still insist on the weapon or ability being powerful, you can give it a drawback or flaw. For example, each time it is used, the hero or one of the hero’s friends is seriously hurt. If the hero has a horn that causes earthquakes or fire, put the hero in a place where he or she can’t use the horn because it would damage buildings and hurt innocent bystanders.

This limits the usage of the overpowered ability or weapon, which gives the enemy a chance of winning. This leads to a chance of losing which increases the tension. If there is no chance of losing, there is also very little conflict. Now you have to decide what to do about overpowered characters in novels that you write.