Creating Magic In Your Sci-Fi/Fantasy Worlds

Creating Magic In Your Sci-Fi/Fantasy Worlds, guest post by Brandy Potter

Some of the greatest authors in the fantasy genre created magic differently for their readers. However, all of them followed some simple rules in their writing of magic to capture the readers and make the magic they created more realistic.  Not all of these authors clearly stated this This article will hopefully explain these to you and use examples so that you can join myself and others in walking through a world of pure imagination.

1. If you have magic, have nothing else. - That is your free ride. Mixing TOO many powers together will confuse people. I LOVE the Avengers and the Justice League, who doesn’t, but there are times that I have to resort to my cheat sheet to remember what some people can do. It works for these comic book mash ups because the characters have been established through their own intricate sagas, but it won’t work for your readers who are just learning about your world

Creating Magic In Your Sci-Fi/Fantasy Worlds, guest post by Brandy Potter
2. Never forget that people are the story – As magical as the wizarding world is, without Harry, Garion or Frodo we wouldn’t care.

3. Do you need magic? Why? – There has to be a reason magic exists. Eddings produces a great reason. In his world, the two sides are two different possible endings resulting in some sort of rift between that magic. If the hero wins, one destiny for the world exists, if he loses there is another reason.

4. If you have magic, it infuses the entire world – Rawlings does this seamlessly in a modern setting using a magical law that shields Muggles. For many, there are disbelievers that simply chose to ignore it i.e  The Hobbits, but it is there.

5. You don’t always have to define these limitations to your readers, but you do have to know them. - For example, in the world of Harry Potter, even though there are dark arts, only those who are evil use them. Therefore, while there are two sides to the magic, it is the intent of the wizard or witch that defines good and evil. She doesn’t SAY that’s what she does, but readers know.  

6. All rules are made to be broken, but not all in the same story. - Magic didn’t appear to have consequences in Middle Earth, but Tolkein followed all the other rules. If magic existed without rules, there would be no end to its possibility and thus becomes unbelievable.

7. All spells have a consequence and a counter spell. – For Eddings, if someone moved a boulder with magic, the character was just as tired as if they had moved it physically. It also carried a noise that announced the presence of the wielder to others with magic abilities. For Tolkein the all-powerful one ring corrupted the bearer.

8. Plot twists based on the magic work, but only if the readers understand.  We saw Harry use the marauders map several times, so when Peter Pettigrew appeared, we knew something was amiss. If the readers didn’t understand that, then finding out that Scabbers was Peter wouldn’t have been so magical.

9. Heroes and spells both have weaknesses that can be exploited. – Superman had to have kryptonite If there is no weakness, then evil can’t be beaten and there is no struggle for good.

10. There has to be a learning curve. – Harry Potter had Hogwarts, Garion had Polgara and Belgarath. If the bearer can simply wield the magic from the outset, then it requires too much suspension of belief

11. A certain amount of will has to be used for the spell to work – Expecto Patronum, enough said. The wielder has to put a piece of themselves into the magic for it to work. 

12. Ultimately, magic can’t solve the problem. Harry literally has to die to save the people he loves even with magic. If you have your story end with that cop out, then you take the humanity out of the story.

Creating worlds is hard. Yet, how boring would any of the works of the author’s listed above be without magic. It has to be defined before you even begin to frame races, characters or plot.  So when you make your maps, take some time to define your magic as well. Fantasy and sci-fi writers have the most creative freedom and responsibility in the writing world. After all they are not limited by “known” timeframes or locations. So, above all, have fun.

Creating Magic In Your Sci-Fi/Fantasy Worlds, guest post by Brandy Potter
Brandy Potter has been writing since she was 9 years old, but Venomous Lives was her first published novel. Currently she is working on a romance suspense and a romance thriller. Her character development focuses on the psychology of the everyday person, fictionalized visions people overcoming their conflicts. She enjoys watching people and observing their behaviors. What makes us and at times what breaks us. She likes strong female leads but maintains that they are strong in different ways. She does reviews for an online blog magazine and facilitates an online author’s group.

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