Creating Magic Today’s post comes to us thanks to my good friend Stuart Jaffe (of “The Eclectic Review” fame) who emailed me a few days ago to discuss the creation of magic systems. This is something I’ve done quite a bit, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing fantasy. Magic is, in many ways, the defining characteristic of works in our genre. Yes, I know: We often say here at MW that character and plot and voice are the most important elements of good storytelling. But the fact is that fantasy wouldn’t be fantasy without magic. And besides, making up magic systems is really fun to do. But contrary to what some people think, creating a magic system is not an anything-goes endeavor. 1) A magic system has to have limitations. 2) In my opinion, magic should have a cost. 3) And finally, (this is pretty basic) a magic system has to be internally consistent. As writers of fantasy, we ask our readers to suspend their disbelief every time they open one of our books.
30 Days of WorldBuilding By popular demand, you can now download the Magical WorldBuilder Guide in three easy-to-carry (non-DRM) formats: PDF for printing out at home or reading on a computerePub for use with many fine ereader devicesMOBI for use with Kindles and MobiPocket software.As of 2007, The world-builder exercises are licensed under a Creative Commons license to help you in deciding whether you can translate (yes, with credit back), distribute to your writing group (yes, with credit), sell (not without permission), reprint (yes, for non-commercial purposes), or mirror (yes, with credit back) this useful guide! In October, 2004, I posted 30 days of world-building exercises to the NaNoWriMo discussion forums. These are short, 15-minute exercises that can help you make crucial decisions about your world, and what you want your story to say about it. These exercises have been edited for general use and re-posted here. So, give yourself 7 and a half hours this month-- 15 minutes a day-- to build a world.
Science and Magic Holly Lisle's Vision John Ward ©2001, John Ward “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clarke Many times, fantasy seems to be the Goodwill Store of literature. Nowhere is this repetition of ideas more apparent than in the magic systems of the worlds that we create. A great example (actually, a perfect example) of using physics to define a magic system is Holly Lisle's article that explains the magic system of her fantasy world from the Secret Texts series. Scientific thought and theory are waiting to be exploited by the fantasy writer. Sp(20)_1 X U(1)^2 Do you need to understand these glyphs? Once you gain access to this material, you will learn that they explain many things that most fantasy writers never stop to ponder. Let’s make our magic more interesting by making it more realistic. 1. 2. 3.
The Writing Café How To Worldbuild Magic: Short Rules for Real Worlds Fantasy writers take a significant amount of crap from SF writers for what the SF writers perceive as their “fluffy bunny” worldbuilding and their use of magic as an easy out for solving their characters’ problems. In fact, however, magic is no more of an easy way out for well-written fantasy than physics is an easy way out for well-written SF. The following are ten rules that will make your use of magic in your fantasy novel rigorous, and will save you from the “fluffy-bunny” label — and will, at the same time, make your story better, more entertaining, and more exciting. 1. Nothing comes from nothing. Also known as There Ain’t No Free Lunch. 2a. When your characters start using magic, they must be made to pay for it in some way. 2b. This rule is the storyteller’s best friend – in fantasy, in SF, in mainstream… anywhere. 3. The most obdurate magical stone wall created by the mightiest evil wizard had better have a crack in it that a determined, intelligent hero can find with effort. 4.
Author C.L. Wilson Blog Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble... ~ Shakespeare's MacBeth In this long-delayed (and for that I do so apologize. Deadlines, you know) continuation of my Worldbuilding 101 series, we're going to talk about creating credible magical systems for your world. Because magic is by definition the most fantastic element of your created world, creating the specifics of your magic system can either fascinate readers or destroy all suspension of disbelief. I'm big on "discover as you go" but the basics of the magic are the one concrete foundation I absolutely MUST establish from the get go. The Magic Must Make Sense The number one rule when creating magic is this: create your rules, then follow them . It doesn't so much matter how your magic works but that it works the same way, every time . This does not mean you cannot have surprises or have your characters learn new magical techniques. What can your magic do? What can your magic not do? Can magic be counteracted?
Victorian Era Names, A Writer's Guide circa 1840's-1890's Being a compilation drawn from old census and vital statistic records. A large part of creating a good set of characters in fiction writing is giving your imaginary populace good names. The same holds true for writing stories set in the 1800's. Nor was it unusual for parents to look closer to home, borrowing from close friends or people they admired. In a few places on this list, I have enumerated certain first and middle names together, (such as Sarah Ann,) because I find them joined thus so many times on old public records, that it is apparent those name-pairings enjoyed great popularity. Special thanks to Christine/Sevenstars, for her comments and assistance with this collection. Compiled by G. Old West Slang Writer's Guide ~ Colorful sayings for colorful characters, and links for research and study of the Old West.
Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems at SF Novelists David B. Coe July 21st 2011 I’ve written before, on other blogs (including a site I maintain with several other fantasy authors) about creating magic systems and what I feel such a system needs to read as “real.” In recent months, though, I’ve been thinking about magic a bit differently, in part because I’m now writing historical fantasy and contemporary urban fantasy rather than the alternate-world epic fantasy I’ve published throughout my career. Let me start by saying that I approach the creation of a magic system with a fair amount of rigor. Over the years, when I have created magic systems, I have followed three basic rules. Recently, I have come to recognize one more component of a successful magic system. For my contemporary fantasies, I have tried to create magic systems that draw upon existing elements of our world. Those are the things I’ve been thinking about recently when creating magic. Filed under For Novelists, our books, writing process.
Alignment Tendencies Anyone familiar with the Outer Planes will have already been exposed to the concept of alignment tendencies. In fact, there are almost as many Outer Planes that exemplify such "in-between" alignments as there are planes for the nine canonical alignments. Alignment tendencies are a further refinement of the alignment system. The Alignment Chart This chart represents all possible alignments. The color scheme shows how the various alignments begin to "shade" into other alignments when Neutrality comes into play. Nomenclature By convention, alignment tendencies are given in parenthesis and are described as being more extreme than a certain neutral alignment not having the tendency. Using Alignment Tendencies A tendency can be used to indicate one or more of the following: "Not Quite Neutral" An alignment tendency could be used to show the preference of an ethically and/or morally neutral character to favor one "side" of his neutrality a little more than the other. "Not So Extreme" "Pious Enough"
The 5 Glaring Fantasy Clichés (And How You Can Do Better) Hi there! I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve actually written something for my blog. What with interviews and giveaways, and whatnot. 😉 But I’m back now, and today I want to talk about fantasy clichés—and how to avoid them. I’ve said before that I’m not really a fantasy writer, but that’s about to change. At least, hopefully. Let’s start by pinpointing these notorious five. 1. We have all seen this one countless times. 2. This one goes hand-in-hand with the “chosen one.” 3. The overarching Dark Lord is a bit of a cliché in himself, but have you noticed that the majority of these sinister characters dress in black? 4. The SMO is a cliché that probably originated from The Lord of the Rings. 5. This is another really common one, spread throughout fantasy fiction: the prince/princess who would rather be a commoner, because clearly, a life without all the expectations that being royalty carries would be much more fun. Wait, what? But isn’t that contradictory? So what can we do?