When rereading Chapter 26 today, my husband (my primary editor) and I realized that I had a few lines that needed clarification.
The power that my protagonist uses for her “magic” is different from the antagonist’s and different from natural energy. The lines muddied the waters and made us have to define the differences to a greater degree than we had. Whether or not this all gets specifically stated in the final draft, we have to be clear on the subject.
Case in point: my main character is training with her mentor and figuring out how to shoot lightning from her sword. No problem, except that they’re training during a thunderstorm. She is able to absorb the energy her mentor fires at her, but not the natural lightning from the storm. I can’t just call her lightning “energy” because it won’t produce a clear picture of what it actually is in my readers’ minds (and I have to use “energy” way too much as it is). On the other hand, I can’t just state that she can only absorb whatever energy comes from her own source because the antagonist will be shooting her with lightning as well. He doesn’t have access to her source of power (or else the story would have been over long ago), and he isn’t using natural lightning–why should he be able to harness that and not she?
The answer came by defining the source of power spiritually. Natural lightning (from the storm) is natural (I sense a lolcat in here somewhere). Her source is the will of her god while the antagonist’s source is the will of self.