Worldbuilding

Making Teleportation Work in Your Story

Geordi and Ro transporting in Star Trek: The Next Generation

The transporter is a fun piece of magic - er, we mean technology.

Known by different names, teleportation is the ability to instantly transport oneself from one location to another. Through the years and across mediums, characters have wielded this magnificent power and filled us with envy at the convenience it provides. In particular, it makes for a great deus ex machina when you need your protagonist to dodge an otherwise deadly attack. That being said, the presence of such an ability comes with its own buttload of questions, which can hinder the plot and the structure of the world you’ve built.

The Problems With Teleportation

Plot Problems

When stories include a character who can teleport, readers often wonder why the ability isn’t used more often. The protagonist faces a situation that would absolutely benefit from teleportation, but instead they sit there like a chump.

Charmed, a show riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies, offers a good example of this blunder. In the episode Hyde School Reunion (season 6, episode 17), one of the protagonists, Phoebe, is held at gunpoint by someone who possesses no magical powers whatsoever. Her teleporting sister, Paige, witnesses the encounter. Logically speaking, Paige would have simply chosen one of these courses of action:

  1. Teleport the gun out of his hands
  2. Teleport her sister away from him
  3. Teleport him out of the house altogether

However, she goes for secret option 4, where she casts a spell on him that changes his appearance and in turn transforms him into demon-bait. As soon as his appearance changes, the demons appear and melt him using their acidic saliva. I repeat, a good witch, who possesses amazing teleportation abilities, knowingly uses her powers on a human being in order to murder him in the most horrific way possible. WTF?!

Another example can be seen in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, where Harry, Hermione, and Ron are hiding out in the woods before a bunch of Snatchers find them. Though it was established throughout the book and both parts of the movie that the trio are able to Apparate, they decide that running is the best method for this instance. This convenient turn of events does propel the plot a bit, but it also ends up having everyone’s favorite house elf murdered. This situation could have been avoided had the trio used any of the various teleportation methods available: Apparition, a Portkey, etc. So why didn’t they? It is never explained.

Worldbuilding Problems

In addition to the issues teleportation creates within the plot, it also tends to raise questions from nitpickers like me regarding the world you’ve built. You always run the risk of shifting focus away from the main plot when there is a glaring hole in your worldbuilding. Unless your plot is specifically about the issue with having individuals with teleportation powers (e.g. Jumper), then it’s important to ensure that you’ve covered all of your bases.

“Why don’t Muggle-born wizards just Apparate into London banks and clear out the vaults?” is probably the first thought I had when I read Goblet of Fire. While Rowling did end up placing rules on Apparition in an attempt to limit its use, or merely as a way to hide the fact that she hadn’t thought it through,* she still failed to see its impact on the world as a whole.

Introducing supernatural abilities as a part of worldbuilding is always a fun exercise. However, the impact that these powers have must be explored thoroughly, taking into account politics, social life, security, etc. This is especially true when the author creates a world that utilizes the masquerade. Whenever this is the case, specifically within the urban fantasy genre, one can’t help but wonder about the security issues created by teleportation.

  • Can anyone just pop into someone’s house and commit a crime undetected?
  • Can someone Apparate into the White House and abduct the president?*
  • How about robbing a bank? Stealing national secrets?
  • Peeping toms?
  • Would airlines and public transport systems be affected?
  • Would it solve the energy consumption crisis? Will we save the polar bears?!

Fixing Teleportation in Your Story

If you’re still considering introducing teleportation within your work, here are a few things you could include in order to avoid having someone like me nitpick the hell out of your book.

Putting Limits on Teleportation

You can start by limiting teleportation to a certain range. For instance, Nightcrawler from X-Men must either be able to see where he’s teleporting to or envision the location in his mind’s eye, because his power relies on his visual sense. Rowling also attempted to place a range-based limit on her version of the ability by stating that intercontinental Apparition is extremely difficult and can only be accomplished by highly skilled wizards. Otherwise, wizards could end up being splinched.

You can also put personal limitations on a character’s ability. Start by explaining the effect the power has on its user. Teleporting could take a toll on the person and affect their ability to tap into it whenever they want to. This can be in the form of physical pain, mental distress, etc. The limitation can also be related to the circumstances. For example, the user might need to concentrate in order to teleport, so they are unable to in a highly stressful situation, such as in the midst of a battle.

These character limitations don’t need to be stated as part of the exposition. They can be alluded to via the character’s behavior throughout the narrative. Just stay consistent. You can’t introduce a teleportation power that is used like a reflex whenever a character is threatened, but then abandon that premise when your protagonist is getting their ass handed to them by the antagonist. If it has already been established that the hero just teleports whenever they sense danger, then they should never be in a situation where they can no longer teleport. The only way out of this is by introducing external factors that limit their abilities.

For instance, if you aren’t employing the masquerade trope, then you could establish a system that is controlled by a strict magical government of some sort. This has been established within Rowling’s world.

  • The Floo Network requires permission to use, and it is regulated by the Ministry of Magic.
  • Apparition requires a license. (This didn’t really hold up, since both Harry and Ron were able to Apparate in Deathly Hollows.)

That being said, this technique doesn’t account for the use of the ability outside the magical world where the Ministry of Magic doesn’t have much control. Rowling did have the chance to elaborate on the use of Apparition within the muggle world when she revealed the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Magic in Half-Blood Prince.

By establishing a muggle-magic relationship, even a secretive one, you can easily allude to restrictions in teleportation within the muggle world. However, the restriction can’t be solely due to the existence of a law against it; that law would be mostly unenforceable. Imagine: “Promise you won’t Apparate into the White House. There’s no way we could catch you if you did, but you should know that it’s against the law.”

Plus, criminals don’t follow the law anyway!

Creating Countermeasures Against Teleportation

Wards, protective charms, amulets, salt circles…take your pick. By introducing certain magical tools, you can create situations where teleportation doesn’t work.

For example, Supernatural loves salt circles, Enochian sigils, goofer dust…and just about anything that the writers can pull out of their asses. This practice wasn’t heavily used until the later seasons, when they realized that they wrote themselves into a corner by introducing demons and angels who can jump-cut everywhere. To keep demons from jump-cutting into motel rooms where the Winchesters were sleeping and slashing their throats, the writers introduced a crapload of sigils that can keep out even God.*

The problem with introducing these sigils is how easy it is to draw them. I’m all for using geometric magic; it looks cool, you can make it glow, and it’s very mystical. However, this type of magic also needs to be limited; otherwise nitpickers will wonder why the Men of Letters haven’t covered the White House in Enochian sigils. Here are some ways to limit that oh-so-convenient plot device: make protective devices rare to find, make sigils difficult to draw because they require specific measurements, or make an expensive material required for protection.

Charmed is probably the worst offender when it comes to over-powered countermeasures. While I can excuse the Winchesters for not casting protective charms around themselves all the time, I am infuriated that the supposedly most powerful witches ever known are too incompetent to have protective crystals around the house all the time. They have demons shimmering in around the clock, tossing fire and energy balls, destroying their home, and endangering two toddlers! How did Piper not end did up in prison for negligence?

The witches do occasionally use protective crystals, which means that they  know of their existence and how to use them. It isn’t even a matter of difficulty. They seem to be able to whip up a convenient couplet on the spot. Luckily for them, demons only seem to be interested in attacking them when they’re fully awake and able to defend themselves.

The lesson here is to establish a well-defined protective lore in advance. You don’t need to reveal it all at once, but you should be aware of it. You can start by compiling a list of protective items like amulets, crystals, sigils, protective spells or potions. You can make your world more interesting by assigning different defenses to different magic users. For instance, wizards might use crystals to keep out enemies, while Wiccan witches use protective charms, and faeries are known for utilizing runes.

Whatever tool you end up using to keep teleportation in check, you should always include exceptions to keep things interesting. In the case of a magic system, this can be done by stating that the protective system must be as powerful as the magic user. In this case, a more powerful villain would be able to break through the defenses. Additionally, like any lock, there’s should always be a way for someone with the right tools to get through them.

Finally, it should go without saying that consistency is key.  For example, if a warding tool was used in one part of the story to keep out the Big Bad but then suddenly goes missing during the climax, then a logical explanation should be provided.


Introducing teleportation in your work can be risky, so establishing a detailed and logical system is vital. As with any worldbuilding scenario, the fantasy elements introduced will always have an effect on their realistic surroundings. By establishing the physical limits of the power or the external factors affecting its use, you’ll be able to tell a story where teleportation will add to the plot rather than hinder it.

Ayman Jaber is a digital strategist and copywriter with a passion for storytelling. You can read more of his work on his blog, FantasyWarrior.

(Psst! If you liked my article, check out my magical mystery game.)

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Comments

  1. Michael Campbell

    The plural of medium is media.

    • Cay Reet

      Depends. If it’s people who contact the dead, it’s mediums.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Just to be clear, in the Mythcreants style guide, when we’re talking about more than one storytelling medium like novels, TV, comics, etc, the plural is “mediums.” This isn’t a typo, just our language convention.

  2. Justin Snowden

    I always assumed that there was a danger to apparition in that moment, due to the fact that the Snatchers could have either grabbed them and made them splinch (like Yaxley did) or sent a curse into them (Dobby gets hit with a knife as he’s apparating. So in this case it might be safer to not try a very dangerous form of transportation when you’re in that situation.

  3. Michael Campbell

    It’s interesting that old comic books have a reputation for being very valuable, but this will not be true in the future.

    Basically the buyers paying the big buck were in fact the comic book publishers themselves. They were amassing their own libraries of their own works.
    They realised that they could easily tie themselves up in knots by not knowing their character’s complete histories.
    They’ld get letters from fans saying things along the lines of “In issue 123*, Superman built a lead-lined suit of armour to protect himself from kryptonite.
    In last month’s issue, Lex Luthor was able to escape using his usual kryptonite surprise.
    Why didn’t superman not wear his special suit of armour?”

    *Then at least 600 issues earlier.

    But the moment they began to amass their libraries, they made sure, that the first issue off the presses went straight into the library. So they won’t be paying the big bucks again.

    • Cay Reet

      What does that have to do with this post?

      • Michael Campbell

        I’m pretty sure the linkage is there when read.
        It’s a comment about the fact that the audience will frequently ask; “But why didn’t they do X…they did it earlier.”

        It’s a common problem for story tellers, particularly when they invent a law of the cosmos and then later forget about that change.

        Similarly Dr Who developed an inverse relationship to margin of error between the time traveling journey and the accuracy of the time of arrival.
        Travel back in time seven centuries and arrive within a few seconds of your calculated arrival time.
        Travel back seven minutes and you could finish up out, by six months.
        That way the TARDIS is never used to make rescues via “the do over”.

        Although I suspect you could go forward seven centuries and then back seven centuries and seven minutes an arrive right on time. I think Douglass Adams was trying to be funny when he invented the idea.

  4. Cay Reet

    Teleportation is an extremely strong story device, no matter whether through magic, mutation, or technology. That’s where the main problem with it lies. If it’s not limited in a way that makes sense in the world, there’s really no way to use it without people wondering why it isn’t used more often.

    I think the way it’s used for Nightcrawler is a pretty good way to limit it. Line of sight or a place the user knows extremely well is a good limit, because it makes sense (they need to picture where they want to be). The Brian Helsing series goes a similar way with Blink (which can also have severe to deadly consequences, so it’s not used lightly).

    Apparating as used in the HP books would make more sense, if there were real limits to it (like ‘it only works in specific areas’ or ‘you need a specific portion for it’). The way it is at the moment, wizards and witches could really go everywhere with this ability and most of them seem to learn it at some point (and even though you need a licence, you can do it without one, so a magical criminal wouldn’t even need to get one). I can see how Rowling used the licence thing as a magical equivalent of getting a driver’s licence (some rite of passage), but since cars are overall limited to streets (or at least ground-based areas), it doesn’t really work like that. Some of the fan fictions I’ve read actually solve those problems better by introducing anti-apparition wards, meaning apparating into or out of those areas covered is impossible.

    Teleportation through technology, as seen in Star Trek (where it was originally introduced, because it was obvious the Enterprise couldn’t land on planets) comes with its own host of problems. You can limit it by saying ‘not through certain types of matter’ or ‘the teleporter has a long cooldown’ or ‘teleporting too often can lead to severe medical problems,’ but you still have a highly powerful tool on board of a ship which could easily be misused by people. You can’t really trap an away team efficiently, as long as they still have a communicator or the ship’s scanners can pick up their signatures (which both is much easier technology than the whole ‘teleportation’ thing). One way to solve it would be (as with apparition a la HP) to limit the transport to specific places – from one defined area to another. That would still allow for quick movement, but only within specific parameters. And the Enterprise still wouldn’t have to land, but on a not-yet-colonized planet, they might have to rely on a shuttle instead of the transporter (but from the shuttle on the planet to the ship would be a possibility).

    • Michael Campbell

      I believe Gene Roddenberry wanted to film the enterprise landing but to shoot it for each new world would cost far too much so he just said;” They just beam down.”

      Indeed, in the first season of the original series there was an episode with crew members trapped on the surface of a planet because the transporter was broken…and there was the drama.
      In the second season they had an episode that involved the Galileo shuttle, which was so well written that Roddenberry wanted to go forward with it and then had to sell the rights to the Enterprise to a model kit company in order to be able to pay for the shuttle-craft set (and miniature).
      But ever since then, people watch the earlier episode and ask; “Why didn’t they just send down a shuttle?”

    • Michael Campbell

      It’s interesting how budget considerations affect creativity.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4crko7wIbpw

  5. Julia

    If you ever want to see how resilient a magic ability is in your story, give it to a bunch of gamers and watch them run amok. Make a list of all the loopholes you’ll have to fix.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That’s one of my favorite strategies!

    • Michael Campbell

      You could do something similar with creative dialogue.
      Have a bunch of players run the characters through the scenario.
      With only one character to think about, the players will have the time to make up some pretty creative yet naturally “in character” dialogue.

      Jot down what they say and it’ll seem more real when read, like it didn’t come out of one person’s head but rather really happened.

  6. Bunny

    When I read the Harry Potter books I always thought that Malfoy Manor worked the same way Hogwarts did when it came to apparation in that only the house elves can do it when they’re there. I never realized it wasn’t stated outright, though. That’s an interesting point.
    I agree that the apparation limits were too lax when it came to the muggle world. I could maybe see having incomparable currency as a possible solution to bank robbing, but the books clearly don’t have that (I think you had another article on currency where you addressed this?). Plus that wouldn’t stop anyone who lives in proximity to muggles and uses muggle currency at any time. Not to mention political implications!
    Great article!

    • Cay Reet

      Parents of muggle-born children can exchange muggle currency at Gringotts (I think in one book, Hermione’s parents do that or it’s mentioned they do it), so I guess the currency isn’t really incomparable. There have to be exchange rates. It makes sense, with muggle-borns coming to Hogwarts and with, possible, squibs going the other way and needing muggle money. Trading in a huge amount at once might be suspicious, but a larger number of robbers could bring in the money in smaller quantities and exchange it. Or use it in the muggle world to buy stuff wizards can’t get in their world.

  7. Laura Ess

    As regards Nightcrawler, I read somewhere else that his real limitation is related to how he teleports, which was by moving to a Hell Dimension, moving there, and then moving back. The more time he spends in the hell dimension, the more it costs him. However to me this seems like someone’s clever retcon for a particular story. I think mostly of SF stories when I think of teleportation.

    Dick’s “The Unteleported Man” has this technology as a one way thing to another solar system with the protagonist taking the long (18 year) trip by spacecraft instead. That story played on the uncertainty of what was on the other end. What if say a soul DOES exist and doesn’t get teleported with you? Or what if it’s a scam to reduce surplus population?

    Bester’s THE STARS MY DESTINATION has “jaunting” – the concept that human beings could learn to teleport, or “jaunte” from point to point, provided they know the exact locations of their departure and arrival and have physically seen the destination, with an assumed maximum of 1000km. Much of the novel shows the ramifications of that. The old transportation industry goes bust, but transport of inanimate matter (that not worn/carried by a person) still requires non-teleport transportation. Owning a horse and buggy becomes a symbol of power and prestige. Immigration is no longer a border issue, but an ID one. Security becomes a matter of adding mazes and obscuring details about the interior of buildings. Only those in the know can jaunte to and fro, so a heist requires infiltration by an insider. The main character is for a while kept in a high security prison in France which is build in underground caverns and pitch dark, and only the security staff get night goggles. Every so often a prisoner suicides by attempting to jaunte out, ending up in solid rock. What seems to be missing from this novel is mention of suicide bombers, which you’d think that jaunting would be perfect for. All you’d need to do would be to convince a tourist to jaunt back to a location with a bomb.

    Niven’s FLASH CROWD has a technological means of porting via Transfer Booths where you dial a destination. Everything is networked and the network regulates arrivals to any destination. But there are still issues in that news items attract “flash crowds” of spectators, blocking emergency services, and spontaneous riots Unlike jaunting, security here would come from screening the IDs of the travellers, but those could be faked.

    • Laura Ess

      STAR TREK of course pioneered the use of teleporting in TV shows. Roddenberry didn’t want long boring scenes of characters going to and from planets via shuttles, so the transporters were invented instead. Transporter lore has developed over the longevity of the show though it reflects issues and concerns outside of Trek as well. The first of these is just how a teleport works. In Trek the rationale is that a person/object is transported by becoming energy and pattern in a computer buffer and that gets beamed (at sub-space speed) to the new location. And that can also be done in reverse, so you don’t need a transmitter at each end. In a real world situation, teleporting using a “3D printing system” would require vast amounts of data and energy to work. But let’s not worry about that just now this is a Trek story instead.

      We never really find out just what the buffer is, but clearly it needs a some form of computing or storage to work. Later we here of “Heisenberg Compensators” which presumably fix any uncertainties in the process. In any case the bottom line in trek is that Transporters are a convenient prop that works or doesn’t work according to the needs of the plot. Transporting in general is blocked by having shields up unless you know the frequency of the shields or are Borg. A counter to that was “multiphasic shields” which vary the frequency in unpredictable ways. Some minerals or alloys would block transporter beams. Certain phenomena would create too much interference for the transporter to “lock on” which probably means that it can’t copy the pattern data correctly. And yet at other times old pattern data records of people were used to detect differences in their DNA, restore them to health, and restore them entirely. Scotty was brought into Next generation after he and a crew mate were saved in a repeating pattern buffer while they were trapped in a Dyson Sphere.

      At least two episodes deal with transporter issues based on outside concerns. SECOND CHANCES has Will Riker discover another version of himself created by a transporter accident 10 years ago. Instead of beaming back to the ship, there was a reflection and the duplicate was created on an asteroid. Technically they’re BOTH copies of the original Riker but the one we’ve seen on previous episodes is considered the original. The episode highlights how much Riker was emotionally different 10 years before. And – I was surprised at the time – it DOESN”T KILL OFF THE TWIN by the end of the episode (though the character was more or less “thrown away” in a DS9 episode). And Voyager has the episode TUVIX (which coincidentally was repeated on local TV yesterday. Commander Tuvok and Neelix suffer an accident beaming back on board and are combined into one individual who becomes known as Tuvix. The episode centred around the personal issues for the crew who’d all known the originals, and the moral issue about whether or not they have to right to separate Tuvix back into the originals. No “BrundleFly” to see here – move along.

      These episodes relied on real debates in Philosophy about the nature of real teleportation. Is the version of someone beamed down actually you, or has the original you been destroyed and the person who has all your characteristics and memory a copy of you? The new person might think they’re you, but are they? And how would two “you”s react to each other? Anyone who’s seen THE PRESTIGE knows that this could get very dark indeed. Part of the issue I think is that that story rationales often follow paradigms based on current technology. When old STAR TREK was made computers were bulky things that stood in one or more air-conditioned rooms. The Trek transporters seem to be using a radio/tv paradigm rather than a computer one. Nowadays we’re used more powerful, smaller computers which have the capacity to store more information than we expected. The paradigm’s shifted to more of a 3D printer one, where teleporting is more like rebuilding an object from a data set (see DOCTOR WHO’s “Heaven Sent” which makes this exact analogy).

      But two photocopies of an original is still not that original (whether or not you destroy the original), because you can’t have a 100% copy. At best you’d have a 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999% copy, and that might make all the difference. I came across an artwork in my Bachelor’s which consisted of a book created from photocopies. The 2nd page was a photocopy of the original (which was a blank white sheet), and each page after that was a photocopy of the previous page. The book’s pages went from white to black, due to copy errors! In real life we’re unlikely to be able to teleport anything other than information (perhaps using some entanglement trickery) so perhaps as this article says, what counts in a story is the rules, not the identity.

    • Richard

      You beat me to the “The Stars My Destination” reference!

      But I also want to point out that Niven mentions another problem with teleportation – conservation of energy and momentum. Over short distances, there’s not enough of a problem to worry about. But when teleporting a significant difference in altitude, you gain or lose a lot of potential energy. Niven says the difference is made up in heat. Teleport down, and your body temperature goes up…. Over large distances, you have to take into account the rotation of the Earth. At New York City, the rotational speed of the Earth is around 800 mph. At Montreal, it’s about 735 mph. Since you keep the rotational speed of your starting point, you had better hit the ground running at your destination…..

      • Laura Ess

        Yes indeed. That was the whole point to one of the stories wasn’t it?

        • Michael Campbell

          Such movement wouldn’t just affect teleportation technologies, but time displacement equipment as well.
          If Kyle Reese travels through time naked and the Earth moves he can easily find himself breathing vacuum.
          Even a jump of whole numbers of years wouldn’t help as the Earth is in one of the spiral arms of the Milky-way Galaxy which is both spinning and moving out from the big bang.

  8. Deana

    One of the more “rational” uses of teleportation comes from Katherine Kurtz’s books. She says in an interview somewhere that she had trouble with Star Trek’s anywhere, any time use. So instead it is point to point, and both ends have to be set up in advance and the person must know both locations and (at least in the case of in the home portals) have permission to pass the protections put on them to prevent unauthorized guests.

    Both construction and destruction of them are physically and psychically draining so there are some reasonable limits.

  9. Kim

    In the Cal Leandros novels by Rob Thurman, Cal can (eventually) transport himself anywhere he knows. The problem is that it’s addictive for him.

  10. Sonia

    Hi and thanks for this! I have teleportation in two of my stories.
    In one I have a character who can teleport objects up to a certain size within a limited range. I thought I had cleverly set this up for her to teleport a smallish mortar over a gunman’s head to free a hostage. But then I read this post and realised: why doesn’t she just teleport the gun away?
    The answer (of course) is that a gun held in a hand doesn’t stay perfectly still, and she’s not secure enough in her magic yet to know what might happen if she tries to teleport something that’s not in the exact place she thinks it is… Whew! Glad I caught that one – thanks to you!

    • Michael Campbell

      Well, if you did miss.
      And teleported a rifle sized hole, out of the bad guy’s chest.*
      Would that somehow be more evil that dropping a mortar on the guys?

      Also do mortars need to achieve a certain “height of fall” (i.e. impact) to actually set off the detonator?

      How far is the target?
      Could the character simply thump the mortar and then throw it as seen in Saving Private Ryan?

      *Tenacious D :- Wonderboy
      “With mind bullets.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsxqq7w9h_E

      This is all very much like what Orson Scott Card wrote in How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy where writers need to think through most of the consequences of their technology.
      If the colonial marines use cryogenic-suspension to survive the 30 light year journey, causing them to age 120 years without dying of old age.
      You can pretty much guarantee that it’ll also be colonial marine corp policy, that anyone who gets badly shot up on some “boondocks” (although in official speak; it’ll be “sh#th%le” as laid down by an actual President) planet, will be put, straight into cryo’, until a fully equipped hospital O.R. can be prepped.

      • Sonia

        Um. Not a military mortar. A mortar as in mortar-and-pestle. Heavy object for blunt trauma.
        I was confused by your answer and finally got it… Oh, the pitfalls of homonyms!

        • Michael Campbell

          Honestly. Mortar & Pestle! Mortar & Recoil-less Rifle!?!
          When it come to getting clobbered. I don’t want anything from a great height.

    • Michael Campbell

      Also there’s the issue of Power Stunts.

      What are the mechanisms surrounding matter reassembly at the target point?
      If you beam the shooter’s lungs out and then instantly beam them back in but this time reconstruct them such that each lung is the size of a telephone booth. That would be just as deadly as beaming his lungs away and not returning them.
      What are the limits of the mechanisms?

    • Ayman Jaber

      I’m glad you found it helpful!
      Placing physical limits on your characters is a great way to explain why they haven’t taken a certain(logical) action. This really only applies when your character has been established as human, and therefore prone to errors in judgement /limitations in ability. It’s important to keep in mind that in the midst of a battle, a person doesn’t have the time nor the mental capacity to make the “right” decisions. However, this needs to be alluded to in one way or another. Additionally, establishing that your character’s power requires that she know exactly where the object is in order to teleport it is vital. This can be uncovered early on in the story through a series of examples(e.g. the first time she attempts to teleport an unsteady object, it backfires and she ends up hurting someone. Which would cause her to be hesitant when using her powers again.
      This would help flesh out the character as well as place limits on her powers). Whenever I’m writing a portion of the story where powers are being used, I like to map out every possible scenario, not just the convenient one. Understanding what powers are present(multiple magic users), what each of their limits are, and how they would counter each other. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that each of them would behave differently, i.e. one might make rash decision, one might be more timid to use their ability, etc…. It’s a long and thorough exercise! But it’s the best way to avoid plot holes(as much as possible)! Hope this helps!

  11. Kat Adams

    I’m a nitpicker too… It’s Deathly Hallows.

    Great post, though; especially regarding putting limits on any devised power or technology. That’s one aspect of worldbuilding I wish was always more clearly defined. I tend to find issues in Sci fi with FTL along exactly the same lines

  12. Michael Campbell

    @ Kat Adams
    Could you Elucidate? Which bit about F.T.L. bugs you?

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