A Writing Journey

When it comes to magic, fantasy writers usually go one of two ways: learn the spells from the book or magic is in your blood and you don’t have to learn any spells. Both of these have problems.

Learning spells or “words of power” is, in my opinion, a massive cop-out (unless, of course, you are writing Harry Potter and that is integral to the way the world works – but usually it is not). If your characters can just go learn a new spell every time the need to, it ruins the tension. We all know that they are going to get out of this mess too (that was my one big qualm with Buffy the Vampire Slayer – they had a spell for everything). The only way this can actually work is if you have some sort of school or family tradition or something, and then the spells go wrong, or sometimes there isn’t one, or the cost is too much and the magician refuses to use the spell or something. But when all the problems can be solved with a new spell, there is no point in reading more.

Now, the bulk of this post is going to be about the magic that is inherent in a character – they’re either born with it or they’re not. There are usually categories of magic in fantasy: healers, summoners, elementalists, seers, and others. The problem with magic (and I am honestly not sure how we as fantasy writers avoid it) is that it’s all been done. I think some of the only room for creativity in magic is in how each person can use it, the cost, or even how many people have access to it.

That being said, it is difficult to come up with new and creative ideas for magic. In my WIP the creative part is magic’s source, and how it came into the world. The magic itself is, I’m sorry to say, fairly average (and probably more so than I would like to admit).  My suggestion is to experiment in your writing. Read a lot of fantasy where magic is at least part of the story so that you can see what has been overdone and what is still hiding in the shadows. Learn to write magic well, even if you stick to the norm. Create a system that, if not entirely original is at least consistent and interesting.

And for the love of everything good, don’t make magic this scary thing that has been banned for centuries and people are killed for using it. So overdone.

Take care, fellow travelers.

Another post about this subject by a friend of mine over at Write-Minded Razo can be found here.

Advertisements

Comments on: "Reclaiming Fantasy – Part 5, Magic" (4)

  1. Great post! I always feel that it is not as much where magic comes from, but what you do with it. It is the way the characters use magic, that makes the tension. I recently read the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. He used a very original magic system but in the end, what the characters did with it in the story, seemed over the top and left me disappointed.

    • Yes, the characters need to use the magic in intriguing ways. I am always disappointed when they just use magic the same way as always. I think, however, that where magic comes from can inform how characters use it. For instance, if magic comes from the land, maybe characters use it to help the land, or maybe using magic actually destroys the land. There are a lot of nuances that each writer must work out for her/himself.
      Glad you liked the post!

  2. Really like this post… I especially agree with your last paragraph. While I’m sure there are still effective methods of using magic as an outlawed system, the concept has been rehashed so many times that it borders on melodrama.

    • Yes, you’re right. As you say, some writers can make it work but too often it is just another cliche. In addition, most stories that use this strategy have magic as a very widespread phenomena (which would make it hard to ban) and no solid history to back up the law.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Threadwinners

A Crochet Collaborative

Quiet Water Craft

Official crafty blog for my Quiet Water Craft Etsy shop

creativepixie.wordpress.com/

eat up some crafty goodness with a creative momma

My Crafty Musings

A Crochet Blog

Panda Gets Crafty

Crochet. Knit. Needle felt. Cross stitch.

my world of crocheting

"And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears."

Masala Vegan

Plant based cruelty free recipes for cooking, baking and living from India and beyond!

Flourish & Knot

Handmade Living - Budget Decorating, DIY & Craft Tutorials, Sewing, Flower Arrangement Tutorials - Montreal, Canada DIY blog

Elephants Hankie Blog

Question everything, Explore Life, create wonder.

Crochet by Wendy

Handmade Crochet Items, Gifts and Accessories

Crochet539

Handmade, Festive Adornments

Amanda Crochets

Handmade with Love

Lime Green Lady

Crafting chatter with patterns, projects and photos.

%d bloggers like this: