Warning: Today’s post has big spoilers for Court of Midnight and Deception! Do not proceed if you haven’t read it yet!
When I wrote the Hall of Blood and Mercy series, I mentioned I pulled a few experiments. I had repeating scenes that you see in every book–in HoBaM it was dinner with the vampires, in CoMaD it’s the cafe scenes–that I played around with, and I experimented with plotting systems, characters, and more. (If you want to read more, click here!)
In Court of Midnight and Deception I carried out another mini experiment–or perhaps we could even call it a mini quest–and that was combatting power creep.
Power creep is what you see in long book series/TV series/movies as the heroes acquire new skills that make them increasingly more powerful and are then pitted against increasingly powerful villains. (It’s also commonly called Power Escalation.)
You may start a series where the villain is threatening the city and in order to save the city our hero has to learn the most ultimate of all magic skills: Power XYZ. At the end of the book, the hero learns XYZ and is able to defeat the villain. But what can the writer do for the next book? They have to up the tension, of course, which means the baddie will now threaten the entire country, and power XYZ isn’t strong enough to overcome it! The hero has to learn a new ultimate skill!
You’ll see this most often in fantasy shows/books/movies, but it’s pretty prevalent in entertainment in general.
The danger of power creep is that it can make things feel boring. By the third time it happens, you know the Hero is going to get the new ultimate skill to conquer the villain–who is now the 5th generation of badness our hero is facing and frankly not frightening given that you’ve seen this happen again and again and again.
Power creep tends to especially be a problem with magically inclined heroines/heroes. Their magical powers keep increasing so they can face the problems they come across–because they have to since the hero needs to face everything all by themselves, right?
Leila, as an inexperienced queen with a broke Court and ungrateful citizens was in serious danger of experiencing power creep. Sure, I could make her charisma what wins her people over, and give her a hefty amount of magic so she can do cool things like wake up a hydra, and there would be little danger there, particularly since Queen Rime is around and she can kick Leila’s butt any day.
The real danger would be if Leila was the one to save the night realm all by herself–talk about over powered!–and if she also became the sole figure the fae rallied behind.
The problem was…Leila needed to become the monarch the fae look to. Given what I have planned for future series that follow the Paragon’s search (more on this coming in future posts!) I needed the fae to get it together and collectively wake up and stop all the infighting.
Leila is best suited for that for all the reasons laid out in the books…but the power creep!!
So I tempered her powers by requiring her Court to stand with her to save the Night Realm and even to get her wings. She still doesn’t have wings unless her people are there and standing in the gap between Leila and the Night Realm for her. But that still wasn’t quite enough to steer her into the clear.
Leila saves her Court–which was bankrupt, on the brink of destruction, and the biggest dumpster fire ever–in the span of a year. If I added into it that she needed to become the fae empress–which requires the blessing/support of Courts from multiple regions, not just the Midwest?? I’d never be able to pull it off in three books–there would be too many Courts to introduce–and it would make Leila ridiculously powerful in the span of a few months. No thanks.
So, I decided to slowly have Leila gather additional support in the background of future trilogies. She’s got the Midwest behind her, but as we know there are lots of fae Courts out there in other regions–including all of Rime’s siblings that rule the Winter Courts.
And giving Leila the opportunity to keep growing is something unique I can pull off because we’ll keep seeing her. Hazel is similar. She’s the Elite’s trainee, not the Elite herself–it’s kind of like she’s got training wheels on, so it shows how important she is without making her the most-important-wizard-in-the-whole-universe.
Hazel and/or Leila working by themselves won’t be able to fix magic and save supernaturals. Even if the two of them work together they still couldn’t pull it off. It’s going to require help from a lot of groups/people, including supernaturals who are older, stronger, and more experienced than them.
And THAT is how I figured out how to combat power creep in this series, muwahahah!
I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the curtains of my mind. I typically do have some sort of writing issue/axe to grind with every series I write. For Leila’s series, it was power creep!
Thanks for reading, Champions, I hope you have a fun-filled week!