Saturday, April 16, 2011

Character Sketch: The Powers We’re Born With.

Denton Neumeyer daydreams of being able to fly, of being super-strong, and of running super-fast, but he can’t do any of those things. Instead, he creates darkness. It’s not a bad power, as far as powers go, but it’s not cool. And Denton wants to be cool. He even changes his name to “Damon”— after a character in a movie.

But he can’t change his power.

Damon is the central character of my novel-in-progress, The Power Club. When we first meet him, he’s six years old and has discovered his power only a few months ago. He’s the only kid in his neighborhood with a power, and he uses it to amuse his friends: creating a “darkspace” in which they can run and hide. But when one of his friends blindly runs out into the alley and is nearly hit by a car, the government learns of his power and does what the government always does : It “encourages” Damon and his family to move the district, the place where people with powers live.

For the next five years, Damon grows up alongside other kids who can do amazing things. One of his classmates can freeze objects by breathing on them. Another possesses radar vision. But it’s the kids in Damon’s new neighborhood he most wants to be like: a teleporter, a speedster, a giant. Even the girls have more fascinating powers: one can fly, another can see the future.

But we don’t get to choose our powers.

Some people are born with musical talent. Others can draw. Some are good at organizing. Others have people skills. Some have an aptitude for mathematics. Others for medicine.

Where do powers come from? God? Genetics? Can anyone master a given ability? I think not.

I’ve tried on at least three separate occasions to learn guitar. I know where the chords are, and I can play the melody lines of a few songs. But Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore have nothing to fear from me. Somebody once told me that I didn’t persist in my efforts to learn music, but I know when it’s not going well. I know when I’m not enjoying it enough to do the work.

On the other hand, I’ve spent my life learning to write (no one ever truly masters writing). I enjoy it, and I think I’m reasonably good at it. I may never be the next Stephen King or Orson Scott Card, but I don't have to be. I'm content to be the first me.

In other words, my gifts lay elsewhere.

Damon may never get to fly or bench press a Hummer. But he has been given a wonderful gift he can develop and use to help others or cause great harm. Which path will he choose? To answer that question, he must first know himself better.

The Power Club will take him on that amazing and terrifying journey.

How did you discover your gifts?

The foregoing is © 2011 Greg Gildersleeve. All rights reserved. Unlawful use will result in the culprit being placed in the darkspace for an indeterminate period of time. And we don’t want that to happen, do we?

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