Fantasy elements take many forms in literature. Two of my favorites are telepathy and telekinesis. They can add drama and movement to a story in both the science fiction and fantasy genres. I especially like to use them because they can have clear biological sources which avoid the magic aspect that makes many conservative readers uncomfortable.
The communication by connecting mind to mind is a fascinating concept. Mind reading can be used in so many ways in the development of the world, the characterization, and the drama. Whether introduced as a unique skill of a minority of the population or a common occurrence, it can break down walls between characters quickly or be used as a tool to antagonize by the villain.
The vital aspect of using any new fantastical element in writing is to weave it into the world-building. Giving it physical structure and limits makes it more realistic. For example, limiting the distance that it can be used or requiring that the communicators be touching would work. Another world-building aspect to consider is the culture. When is it polite to speak mind to mind? When is it not? Another consideration is whether or not there is policing of this skill. Coming up with a way to oversee, discipline, and hinder such a skill is a great exercise in brainstorming.
I first encountered telepathy in the Firebird Saga by Kathy Tyres. In the context of her books, the telepathy is linked to a specific people who were genetically altered many years before the story is introduced. The deep linking between spouses added to the depth and intensity of the drama as it played out on the page. Although the trio of books is science fiction and not fantasy, they inspired me to try using telepathy in my own work.
What I really appreciated about the use of special abilities in her work was the way she built them into a substructure of restrictions and limitations. She built the abilities into the cultures and their perception of each other like one would build in political and religious stances of different countries.
The moving of objects using an invisible force adds significant drama and motion to any story. This skill tends to manifest in some incredible action scenes and stunts if used in battle. It also should be built into the development of the literary world of the book or books. Once again, this can be built into the story as an ability coming from a biological source.
Like telepathy, telekinesis tends to show up in both science fiction and fantasy genres. The Force in Star Wars, which can be categorized as either sci-fi or fantasy depending on who you ask, acts like a telekinetic ability.
In my series, The Talented, the ability of moving things by one’s mind is common among men. However, the few women who are trained in the mental skills of telekinesis and telepathy tend to be more powerful than men, due to a more developed amoveo gland (source of the energy applies force upon objects). Drawing the difference between the genders emphasizes the source of the ability, which was important for the world-building.
Weaving the paranormal elements into the story structure is vital to using them to their full potential. There are multiple ways to pull them into the main points of contention. Whether it is a villain obsessed with gathering greater powers, a government that wishes to control them, or a people who want to divide everyone into those who have and those who don’t, they can enhance the main themes and heighten the tension and climax of the story.
I would love to hear about any ideas you might have. What aspects of introducing fantastical elements into a culture would you focus on?
Rachel Rossano loves adventuring into the unknown on the page. A ravenous reader, she loves words and the wonderful ways they can be used to create worlds and people them. She would love to have you join her on these adventures or just chat about the journeys you have already taken. You can find her work on Amazon or other booksellers. For a more personal experience feel free to visit her Facebook page or tag her on Twitter (though she is usually slow on tweeting back).