Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How To Establish a Great Magic System, Part Two

So we started exploring how to establish a great magic system earlier this week. (Click here to see it.) I said there why and how I started exploring this topic, as well as citing the Internet resources I used. I won't bore you with those again, but I am going to link the resources again at the end of the post.

But for today, let's dive right into question 2.

Question 2: Where Does the Magic Come From?

  • what powers it?
  • where does the energy come from?
  • do the characters, the setting, or the world contribute to the magic?

I think the best way to form a cohesive book is to tie elements together. They don't operate independently of one another. The magic in your novel should facilitate the character development and plot. The plot should facilitate character development and world-building. The character development should facilitate the magic system and the setting. If you can tie them all together, the individual elements won't feel tacked on or extraneous. Your book will feel well-thought out and cohesive.

So as you're planning and developing your magic system, use it to tie your world elements, your setting, your plot, and your characters all together. One way to do that is here, in Question 2: Where Does the Magic Come From?

The source of the magic, or what’s powering it, can provide conflict if you want it to. Conflict for the plot. Conflict for the main character, either externally or internally. Look for things that have good ties to the nature of your world. The elements, the characters, the setting. How can these contribute to where the magic stems from? Look for things that tie the magic to other setting elements and which make life hard for the practitioners--especially the main character (if they're a magic user).

So now we've examined who can use the magic, and what's powering the magic. Stay tuned for part three, coming next Monday!

I did use Google to aid me in my research. I found three places that provided me with the most insight and useful information: Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), WikiHow (don't laugh, it had good stuff!), and The Four Part Land (he has six parts, but they're all linked at the top of this one).

So I read (ahem, maybe I skimmed a little. Some of the posts are long!) up on magic systems. I thought about what *I* liked in a magic system. I thought about the fantasy novels I'd read (because I don't read high-high fantasy like Sanderson or many of the authors/titles they talk about in these posts). I thought about Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the TV show Merlin, movies like The Prestige, and other -- in my opinion -- accessible references. (Basically I'm saying I was too lazy to take the time to read those high fantasy novels. I reflected on what I was familiar with. And that's a tip I always give when I'm teaching: Use what you know to draw conclusions and create learning for what you don't.)

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