This may seem a bit confusing but basically, my character has these magic powers that come out when she’s angry or scared. She can do quite a few things such as explosions (more like invisible blasts), telekinesis, hydrokinesis (controlling water), making blood inside people explode out of them, etc. She can only do these things when she’s angry or scared though and can’t physically control what she does when this happens.

This character needs a few scenarios where she uses these powers, and what she does when the scenario happens. Every time I try to come up with something that makes her angry or scared that causes her powers to come out, I can’t think of what to do.

How do you showcase the hidden abilities of a character you are writing?


I think you're looking at this wrong. The psychic powers are part of the backstory of your character. You know why they work, you know when they work. Don't force the powers into the story. Give your character an interesting plot, and let the powers manifest at natural points within the plotline as events demand. It would be a rare story indeed where the main character was never angry or scared about something.

So, what should the story be? It's wide open, even given your premise. In King's Carrie the protagonist is a girl living an ordinary life whose powers are triggered by the outrages of standard horrible teenage behavior. In Stranger Things the psychic character is on the run after escaping from a sinister experiment. In X-Men, the characters live in a world where there are villains with similar powers opposing them. The point being, you should choose the kind of story you want to tell --the situations that make your character angry or scared enough to use her powers will flow naturally from that.

  • 1
    Thank you for clarifying your answer by editing. It helps me understand what you are saying more.
    – Nai45
    Dec 18 '20 at 21:35

This should be easy.

Start by asking yourself; What makes ME scared? Spiders? Creaky doors in the dark? Getting ready for bed right after watching that horror movie?

Chances are, what makes you scared will make your character scared. Even if your character is some super hardened war soldier of some sorts, they probably fear death or their failure enough to trigger the powers.

If you need help deciding on specific events to trigger the powers, I'd recommend not doing another question on the site as that would fall under asking what to write, BUT there is a beta chat where you can pretty much get around that(aren't loopholes fun?).

Good luck!


Magic powers aside, we could rephrase your question to:

How can I make my character mad?

The magic powers are a result of anger, so we can ignore the magic for now. (and I know your character also uses magic when scared but Ceramicmrno0b already gave an answer on that)

There are lots of ways to make your character mad. Here are a few:

  • Insults
  • Heated debates
  • Anger/Grief confusion
  • Losing
  • Self Pity

Those are just a few options, but I want to go over why I picked each of them.

  1. Insults: Even the best of us gets angry because of this. No matter the circumstances, we tend to get mad at people who direct insults at us. Whether they are personal attacks, offending jokes, racial slurs, etc, our respect for the other person quickly drops, and we descend into a fit of anger depending on the particular aggression of insult. And for the more hot-headed, this can be particularly infuriating, probably infuriating enough to explode the offending person.

  2. Heated debates: Depending on your character's personality, this could be the root of anger or not a reason for anger at all. Assess your character. Do they strive to be right? Hate being wrong? Talk before thinking? If that is true for your character, then this is a perfect cause of anger. All she has to do is start arguing on a touchy topic with another stubborn character, and boom 10 minutes later it's a shoutfest that leads to your mc's magic powers coming out.

  3. Anger/Grief confusion: Often, when we are disappointed, rejected, miserable, etc we want a scapegoat for our blame. And, even if the scapegoat had nothing to do with the character's grief, she can find a way to point her finger at them. Her aunt died in a car crash? Blame the pedestrian the cab driver swerved to avoid and hit mc's aunt. This is an easy strategy that most of us use in real life to encase others in our misery.

  4. Losing: Some of us climb so hard to be winners in life, when we fall, we fall with hatred and anger. It happens in the big picture and in regular life. You get mad when you lose. You accuse the winner of cheating instead of owning up to your losses. This can fuel the rage that will spark the 'magic powers' in your mc.

  5. Self-Pity: If your character has lost someone, failed to save their friend, or made a mistake, they may get so engulfed in self-pity that they envoke their magic powers.

Use these 5 tips as a starting point, but there are many more out there. Make sure the strategies that you use to get your character mad matches up with their personality. Keep in mind: while your mc uses magic, they should still seem human when reacting to situations.

Model your mc's complex emotions off of someone you know, or yourself to ensure that the mc will rub off like a normal person reacting to normal scenarios.

An interesting idea would be to arc the character's control to a point where they can chose when they use their powers. Controlling ones anger is an important thing in life.

Good luck!


What is your character like?

What are her interests, her backstory, her likes or dislikes?

A phobia would be one way, and though they can arise spontaneously, they can also arise from trauma. Being bitten by a dog, perhaps. It would mean she would have a phobia, to be sure. More normal fears should revolve around dangers we all face; is she afraid of large, aggressive dogs, or snakes, or heights?

Likewise with anger. Is she fond of her family and friends, and proud of her academic ability? Insulting any of those is likely to anger her, then. Is she angry when shut out of a party? Or is she angry when people insist she drop things she wants to do to attend a stupid party?

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