Super Powers of Monsters

The magical powers of MONSTERS are often what draw us to monster stories. Supernatural strength, extraordinary size and peculiar physiognomy, are all compelling, but the other powers are even more intriguing. The ability to fly, change shape, telekinetically move objects, read minds, pass through solid walls, time travel and become invisible, are all super-deluxe/super-monstrous powers.

There’s another one that I’d definitely call a super-deluxe, although it is subtle and is often associated with non-monsters. It’s the ability to influence others. Vampires are said to “glamour” their human prey. They manipulate with a magically enhanced form of hypnotism.

Charismatic human individuals practice a form of this all the time. I’ve never met President Clinton, but I’ve heard over and over (from people I know and in the media) that his face-to-face charisma is off the charts. One woman, now deceased but then an elderly fundraiser for the Democrats, told me that Clinton looked you in the eye and touched you — holding your arm, shoulder or hand — as he spoke. This concentrated attention was a powerful, but not supernatural, kind of influence.

Politicians across the right to left spectrum are often blessed with this talent. The smart ones cultivate this natural ability. Add a pleasing tone of voice, an easy affability and the ability to improvise on the spot and you have a political winner.

Take that package, and add some truly MONSTROUS attributes — super strength, invisibility, mind reading or flight and you have a really interesting MONSTER for a story.

What’s your favorite supernatural power? Do you want to glamour your boss, client, lover, teacher…? Up for sharing some thoughts on what makes a monster? I’m looking forward to your replies.


  1. You know what’s cool about superpowers? They take an ordinary world and make it extraordinary. That’s what I love about them. My YA in progress is Quantum Leap meets Fringe 🙂 Genetically altered abilities that stem from mind to mind connections. Love it cause it;s so fun to write things we don’t see everyday.

    • Candy

      The heart of writing fiction is creating a world that is extraordinary and making it make sense to the reader.

      Like your description of your work-in-progress!

  2. I’ve always been fascinated by those mental powers – telepathy, telekinesis, that sort of thing. There’s just a delicious contrast between a normal, average exterior and this very non-average interior. Makes for great tension in characters too.

    • Candy

      Remarkable mental powers certainly add a special frisson to relationships and the contrast between those of us who must rely on the verbal & written communications are at a loss. Tension, tension, tension…. a great start for any story.

  3. Metan

    I would love to have the ability to glamour those around me, imagine how much easier life would be if people just did what you wanted because they thought they really wanted to!

    Number 2 son seems to have a small amount of this ability, we often joke that the universe bends to accomodate his wishes at every turn. The three of us just follow along in his wake hoping to soak up the stray luck.

    As a mum the power I need is to control time. An extra hour to cook dinner, a longer sleep in, more time to help the kids with their homework, and to be able to stretch out those sunny winter afternoons to get my washing dry!

    • Candy

      There are days when I’d like to glamour my Tango dance partners, my freelance writing clients and even my cat BUT… then I think about how I’d feel knowing I could manipulate others. Would I lose respect for them? Would I grow to hate them because I could control them? Umm… that’s why it’s a monstrous supernatural power.

      As for controlling time — I love it! Slow it down when you need more time to get stuff done and speed it up when you’re flying across the Atlantic! (Or Pacific…)

  4. Much as I love all the superpowers, I think charisma may be the most potent. As a journalist I met dozens of politicians; the most successful ones had it. The scary ones combined it with unscrupulous greed. They didn’t even need the “super” stuff to achieve their goals. But then, those with psychic abilities…whew! (I know who they are, but I’m not sayin’).

    • Candy

      I am so intrigued! I want to know WHO, but I won’t ask.

      There really is a super villain aspect to a politician with charisma and greed — for money, for power or for both.

  5. During my life I have had two instances, one a friend and the other an Uncle, contacting me to do something for them, AFTER they had already passed away.

  6. I’m a huge comic book geek so, of course, I love super powers. I wrote a book about a character with super powers. I don’t know that I have a favorite power; there are so many cools one to choose from. I do think that beside being able to fly, telekinesis is probably the most usesfule. Mind control is good too, but it always seem to involve so much concentration. As much as I love superheroes, I can never forget the amazing feats of average people who step beyond their limitations to heros to others. There are too many to name in the real world that I look up to, but in the world of comincs, Batman has always been my favorite becasue he’s not super, but just manages to be smart enough to save the day whenever needed.

    • Candy

      You are absolutely right about the heroic nature of ordinary folks who prevail without the added advantage of supernatural powers. If you can fly, teleport, mind read and lift a piano with one hand, your success is one thing. If you are an average Joe, or Jane, with none of the extras and you still conquer evil, overcome challenges and save the world — than you really are a hero.

      Still I like those supernatural additions. They can have downsides too. Mind reading tells you a lot of things you don’t want to know. Flying could make you very impatient, etc. Good stuff for stories!!! Strange stuff for real life.

  7. Hello,
    I am a new author of children’s short story and novels, and I am in the process of writing about spiders- human spiders! The type I call barbarian spiders, that when angered change into terrible spider beasts and destroy their ally horribly, and I always have loved creepy dark tales of terror and science fiction. The characters just gets under my skin in a wierd kind of way- to the point where I feel I am in a realm or outer world where I am lost or wondering alone after my friends abandon me for lagging behind wanting to know what’s beyond the wall or yonder down the creepy road or hill and I must take a look those kind of adventures. I write and watch horror flicks,Halloween, nightmare on elm street and chainsaw massacare! It will cause you night sweats and creepy dreams you wake from sweaty as ever. I sometimes fantasize about being powerful and a flying witch that’s unstoppable, etc., Most of my ideas for my characters usually come from every day walks in life or what I see before me or what mostly flashes before me when I am deep in meditation. Yes, I do love weird and dark mysteries and I crave a dark tale about halflings or spiders!!!!

    • Candy

      Spiders! I know I’m not alone in saying that spiders are my all-time-favorite creepy-crawly!.

      Best of luck with your book.

  8. I started reading this article expecting something about real monsters, your own encounters, their powers etc. However, I found it interesting how you developed the write-up into what it finally turned out to be!