Does anyone have any tips on introducing your m/c's superpowers? My novel is set as a supernatural teen flick playing on the roles of the cliche. My m/c is told she has powers and as it's written in first person, I really want to establish her reactions/thoughts clearly and in detail. Thanks in advance!

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    Does she have any indication of these powers? For example, has she used them by accident? There's a big difference between "The reason you find a chocolate bar in your pocket every time you sneeze is because you have superpowers", versus "You have superpowers which you will be able to use after we spend 6 gruelling weeks unlocking them". Also, does the character already know that Superpowers are possible (and, if not, does the person telling her have a way to demonstrate?) – Chronocidal Jun 23 at 14:05

For something that's been done so often, it's usually interesting to try to deconstruct it; to look for the aspects that are unrealistic and done to death, and find a more realistic and grounded alternative.

In your case, you can start by referencing real life events that are similar, and reading about how people respond to these, and how it impacts their lives. In this case:

  • Discovering you have a terrible illness. It's hardly a superpower, but you do discover that there is something powerful and alien inside you. Whatever expectations you had for your life have just been wiped away by random chance.
  • Discovering you have a world-class talent, for instance, that you're a chess prodigy. Something that everybody finds difficult comes amazingly easy to you. But it also comes with world-fame at a young age, and completely redefines your relationship to your parents.
  • Discovering that you're gay or transgender. You won't be the first to draw inspiration for a superhero story here, but it has a lot of interesting parallels: discovering something identity-defining about yourself, having to hide it from your parents, discovering a community of peers after a long time of loneliness, etc.

The biggest danger with deconstructing a trope is losing what makes it fun. Discovering that you have superpowers is wish-fulfillment. If you dig too deep into the nasty realism of it, you will lose that powerful momentum in your story, and replace it with nothing but stark reality.

I think for a good example of deconstruction done right, you should look to Batman Begins. It came after a long string of increasingly ridiculous Batman adaptations, and completely deconstructed the whole story, adding much more realism, but without losing the aspects that made the Batman origin story so much fun.

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    Upvoting purely for your final two paragraphs. The word 'deconstruction' has been soured by the sheer number of works that fall foul of this and end up in edgy grimdark territory, to the point that I almost cringed when I saw it at the top of your answer. Well done for emphasizing how to do it properly. – F1Krazy Jun 24 at 11:40
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    I wish I could upvote twice for how good this answer is and how the sentiment here needs to be heard. Fiction (or at least fiction with a wish-fulfillment bent like having superpowers) is supposed to be fun and enjoyable to read. There are so many deconstructions that forget this and end up with a bland, depressing story that feels like a personal attack on people who dared to enjoy the original rather than a fresh take on the original trope. – user2352714 Jun 24 at 12:16

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