Welcome to this week’s Craft Post, coming to you late, because Friday’s just seem to come out of nowhere and I forget to write it by the time I realize I need to. Enough of my excuses. For those who are new or haven’t been around lately, we have been in a nearly a year-long series on Worldbuilding. To get caught up, you can find all the posts under the World Building link in the toolbar. Last week we started a new sub-series on Magic and Technology. You can find that post and all the posts in this sub-series here. So, just to be clear, today’s post and our next post will be focused on magic and the following three posts after that will focus on Technology. I am doing that to give technology the time it deserves. All right, that’s enough let’s dive into it.
Should Magic be Mystical or Knowledgeable? That’s the question every fantasy writer and reader argue over. Well, not everyone. Several authors will tell you it doesn’t matter, but they prefer one or the other. Then you have the others who believe their side is the only way. If you have been following my blog at all, you know that I have my view on this topic. I fall clearly on the Knowledgeable side of the line. The mystical side is great, but I find it too much of a plot thread that authors use to get their characters out of a jam they can’t seem to find an answer for. It doesn’t always happen, but it has happened enough to shun me.
That speaking, my first book ever was written has magic that falls more on the mystical side than the knowledgeable side. (Note I am talking about Seeing Through the Veil). Before we get any further, let’s go over what I mean by Mystical and Knowledgeable. It’s time for the Line:
This line is usually a visual given when explaining the differences. A lot of magic systems out there fall somewhere on this line. If a system falls completely to the left it is completely mysterious and the reader knows nothing of how it works. If it falls completely to the right, the reader knows exactly what magic can and can’t do. The rules that govern it. Anywhere is a mixture of both. Examples of this would be the Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time Series.
While some people believe they figured out Lord of the Rings Magic rules, they haven’t because Tolkien was taking from myths and folklore for the creation of Middle Earth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and an idea in his head of what magic could do, but it very well possible he didn’t. So those are the extremes. Where do you fall on this line? I am not completely with the Wheel of Time, but I can get close at times.
Before going any further, please note that once you pick where you fall, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. Maybe your current WIP (Work in Progress) you want more knowledge base magic. However, your next project could have magic more mystical form. But knowing where you fall on this line is very important because it will help you with your writing. There is one more line we need to cover and that is the middle. Why do we need to talk about the middle? Simple, if you can’t figure out where you want your magic system to fall, or where you fall, the middle is a great place to be. You get both worlds. What series could fall there?
Why not Harry Potter. If I actually had to put Harry Potte on the line, it would probably be just shy of the middle to the mystical side. Solely because while we know about magic, we don’t come close to knowing what it can completely do or can’t completely do. (Beyond not being able to bring someone back from the dead). The middle is a great place to give your readers some knowledge of magic and still keep it mysterious and open to new possibilities. Note: If you do this, or if you fall on the mystical side as well. I would say know how magic works yourself. This way you don’t use it in aways that can used as examples of magic being used to solve your plot because you can’t come out with away out without it.
What do you think? Should Magic be more Mystical or should it be more Knowledgeable? Or is the Middle a good place? Time to figure that out.
That’s all I got this week. Check back next week for How your World Affects Magic. Also, be sure to check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up!