by Connie J. Jasperson
It is a fact that sometimes books that were outlined to a certain storyline sometimes go off in their own directions, and the story is better for it. I haven’t experienced the sudden influx of magic into story, but I have had other random events throw a curve ball at me.
The fact is, when I sit down to write a fantasy story, there will be magic, and I will have planned carefully for it. I have three worlds with three radically different systems of magic.
2. In Huw the Bard people can purchase magic (majik) amulets and potions.
3. In the Tower of Bones series, magic and religion are intertwined. Aeos, the goddess, has decreed that all children who begin to show healing-empathy, or the ability to use the magic of the elements must be brought to the Temple and trained, for the protection of society in general. There are rules, certain things which can and can’t be done. As in real life, there are certain exceptions, but they too have limitations. No one is all-powerful.
Once magic enters your story, you must do some foot work, or your premise won’t be believable. It’s critical that you have finite rules for limiting how magic works. If your magic rules are too elastic, or you imbue too many amazing abilities into your main character, you will make them too good to be true. Readers won’t be able to relate to their story.
Each time you make parameters and frameworks for your magic you make opportunities for conflict within your fantasy world. Remember, in fantasy, conflict drives the plot.
Without rules, there would be no conflict, no reason for the hero to struggle, and no story to tell.
First you must consider who has magic? What kind of magic–healing or offensive or both? What are the rules for using that magic and why do those rules exist? Magic is an intriguing tool in fantasy, but it should only be used if certain conditions have been met:
In creating both social and magic systems, you are creating a hidden framework that will support and advance your plot. Within your magic system, there can be an occasional exception to a rule, but there has to be a good reason for it, and it must be clear to the reader why that exception is acceptable.
Another important point to take note of is this: the only time the reader needs to know these systems exist is when they affect the characters and their actions. Dole this information out in conversations or in other subtle ways and it will become a natural part of the environment rather than an info dump.
Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger, and can be found blogging regularly at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.