Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Magic

I'm trying to figure out exactly how the magic in my story works. I know it's biased in the elements and each group is working with a different element, but that's about as far as I've gotten.

I found this WikiHow about building your own magical system that was helpful. I need to decide why the magic in my storyverse works. It suggests the magic should be capable of a lot more than is shown in the story and there should be mystery about the magic as far as the characters are concerned.

Next it recommends deciding who can use magic. If everyone can do it then magic would be common place. Since necessity is the mother of invention it is possible many technologies would not have developed if people already had magic to made their labors easier. Which won't work for my story. That leaves me with a select few who can wield magic. I already know that the magic is passed down from parent to child. Other options include the magic decides, like the force. You have to read and prepare from a book, often this type forgets the spell after it's been used. Then of course you could go with a divine source of magic. These priests can be paragons of good or an archetype of evil depending on where in the spectrum the god they follow falls. I am sure you can think of many other ways magic use could be decided, but I'm out of ideas.

How is magic used? Does it require a wand like in the Harry Potter series? Are the practitioners using material components that will be consumed to cast spells? Is the process more of an internal thing that you really can't see except for the raised hand or concentrating eye? Is there an object that the power is channeled through? Are there objects or talismans that are used to increase power? There are so many things to consider. I think I am going to use a combination of internal process with no focus object, though I can see the characters using some spell components to augment their magic. So maybe I am not good at making decisions.
The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn't.”
-Iain M. Banks
The Wiki goes on to say that you should create a personal guide of how and why everything works even if you don't share it all in the story. I think that is a good idea, but they lost me at their insistence that the magical system has to be logical. I have always felt that authors are hemmed in by something life never has to follow. If there were logic behind everything that happens good people wouldn't suffer and criminals wouldn't get away, but this may not be the place for this discussion. I do think it will be easier for readers if you don't break your own rules. 

It will take a while perfect, but getting it all down will be helpful when you are writing your story. Have you ever created a magical system? Do you have any tips that could help me? I was supposed to to a ROW80 midweek check-in, but the whole production seems unnecessary because I missed all my goals except for posting my A to Z. Though they are getting later and later in the day which is upsetting to me, but what can you do when real life attacks? Hey, I guess technically I just did a check-in. Sometimes it's the little things. Please leave a comment and don't forget to let me know where you came from so I can follow you back.

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Photos from Pixabay.


  1. Those are some great questions and ideas from Wiki. I don't know if magic can't be fully understood by some of the characters in the story. I think varying levels of magic-users is good, too - some that know it well, and some that are still learning. And, then there is the question, can all the magic be controlled, or is their some magic that can't be? That's kind of a fun one to ask when writing with a magic system. In my Champion novels, the "magic" system has two routes - divine purpose through specific people and objects, and blood/pain sorcery. It's a classic good and evil type thing, but I tried to make it interesting by making the divine type less controllable by its users, and by making only certain people capable of using the sorcery - it's genetic and choice for them.
    Anyway, I'm not sure that helps you. It's fun to play with magic system ideas, but I find that some of it comes out in the writing of the story . . . as things fall into place with the plot line and character development.

    1. You have some great points add have given me more things to consider. I did have a tear system in mind, but didn't think to mention it.