Posts Tagged ‘Magic Systems’

Welcome to this week’s Weekly Writing Wrap-up. I got nothing. Yep, nothing. So instead of not posting anything, I am going to post a Craft Post instead. That’s right, this is the next post in our Magic and Technology sub-series in the Approaching a Year-Long Series on Worldbuilding. You can find all the Worldbuilding posts and sub-series in under the Worldbuilding link in the toolbar. For all the posts in our current sub-series, you can find those here.

So, what do you mean how your world affects magic? Good question. I got nothing…

Okay, just kidding on that one. To answer that question, we need to look at everything we have talked about thus far. No, I am not about to recap a year’s worth of posts. I will say, take a look at your world and how you developed it. What areas did you really develop and those areas you glossed over? You are probably asking why I am asking you that and it is simple. I am going to take an approach to that may seem odd or different. As I see it, if you are just starting to work on your magic systems now after everything else we have gone over, then your magic should be like nothing else in your world. Make it Alien to your world.

WHAT!?

That’s right, make the magic stick out like a sore thumb. It should be so blatantly different that it seems like it isn’t of this world. Why? Because it will make it unique for the first part. I am talking about like your readers are into your story and they are just getting a grip on your world and then you introduce the magic, and they are like what!? I want them to question why you put such something that clearly is out of place into this world. Once they are wondering this, you’re going to show them why. Well, a small part.

Still doesn’t feel like I answered the question why do this, right? That’s because I haven’t fully. It will give your magic a wonder feeling, even if it is a very scientific style system. Second, it will tie into the story going on. Whether that is a huge point or a small one is up to you. The other reason it will get the reader to question why such a different form of magic developed in this world than what should have. This is where you could do something like magic is broken or it turns out to be actually alien (like advanced technology from another world.) Or it is what it is. It really is whatever the reason you want it to be.

This is where I confuse the hell out of you. If you are just developing your magic now, and have everything we have completed so far, make your magic blend into the world. It should feel like it is natural. What!? Yep. Stick with me, I have a reason for this. You could develop this earlier in world

You could develop this earlier in world creation because you came up with a great idea. That’s fine. However, this based having most of your world (or the areas you have selected to really flesh out) completed. With that, you know how your world works. You want magic, in this world. If you know your world as well as you do, that means how your magic works will be able to flow deep and natural. Just like it is a natural resource of your world (not that it has to be or is one). Think of it this way, your world is created from everything that has come from a black hole. In the sky is a white hole and over billions of years, this world has taken form. How life forms, to vegetation, to religions of what the white hole really is.

Knowing all this, you can link the magic from the same creation. Maybe the magic is what is left over from another world that had it and now is different because it has been twisted and deformed from coming through the white hole.

This allows you to layer it into everything else and how it will affect everything in your world even the development of life. A good example of this is Pandora from Avatar. There’s not magic, but life on that world is so connected. Everything works and flows together. This is how magic can work.

All right Tim, what’s going on. You just gave us a paradox for an answer. What one should we use if we are just developing out the magic system?

That’s easy. Whatever one works best to meet your rules, and most importantly serve your story. If you want something cool and unique and feel different. I would go with a magic system that feels alien. However, if you like cohesion and synergy, go with blended magic. Here’s a trick, pick one of the options and develop your magic system. Then go through and see how it affects your story. (No that doesn’t mean write out an complete magic system. But it does mean make it about 4/10ths complete. That much should give you an idea of how it works and how it will change your story or not.

Before I close, I want to give a little note to those who create their magic systems early in their worldbuilding. Whenever you do this, before moving forward and start developing a new area. Go back through what you already have done and see how it affects that. Once you have done that, everything you do from there on you should be able to answer how magic plays into it. (If it does at all.)

Well, that’s all I got for today and on Magic. WHAT! NO POSTS ON HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RULES OR HOW RULES ARE A MUST IN MAGIC?

No. It was a little over a year I did a series on magic, so I really don’t need to go through all that again. Next week we will switch over to Technology. That post will be on Friday. Hopefully, everything will go as plan, this week so I can post my normal Weekly Writing Wrap-up next week.

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!

 

Welcome to this week’s Craft Post. Since last may we have been going through a long series on Worldbuilding. I am happy to say it will be coming to an end soon. When? Right now! Bye!

Okay, not now, but soon. I have three more sub-series I want to cover and when they are done this series will be over and we will move onto something else. What’s that you ask? What are the remaining three topics? Our next to topics, Daily Life and Other. The third topic is what our new sub-series we will be starting today. Magic and Technology. Like before, let me list off the working titles of all the posts in this series:

  • What’s your Rule?
  • Magic: Mystical or Knowledgable
  • How your World Affects Magic
  • Technology: Known or Unknown
  • How Technology Affects your World
  • Technology in Fantasy

Six posts in all, and I am splitting it up like I did with Military and Law Enforcement so each topic gets its due. Today’s post is simple, What’s your Rule? Those who know me know that I love my rules when it comes to magic. However, this is something completely different and applies no just to magic and technology. It can apply to everything we have done so far. Why am I just writing about it now? I should make this the last post, but it applies to this sub-series well so I will place it here instead.

Every heard of the writing trope called: The Rule of Cool?

The Rule of Cool

“The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its awesomeness.Stated another way, all but the most pedantic of viewers will forgive liberties with reality as long as the result is wicked sweet or awesome. This applies to the audience in general; there will naturally be a different threshold for each individual. Also known in some circles as a “rad herring”, in which something doesn’t make sense within the guidelines of the story’s reality, but it’s too cool not to include it.” Rule of Cool – TV Tropes

The rule of cool is what a lot of authors use when creating a world, story, magic system or basically anything. Sure they will do their best to make it seem possible in within the world it takes place. Some do it better than others. I dare to say some don’t care if it truly fits in well, as the rule quote above says, it just too cool not to include it.

I use this rule when I develop my worlds. If I didn’t think it was cool, it wouldn’t be in the story. I also use project rules, meaning I have a rule for how I design my world. What my intention for the story and the world to be like. To put it another way, I have a mission statement. While that works in business, it just doesn’t sound as good for writing. So rule it is. My question and the topic of this rule is what’s your rule? Do you have a rule or a guideline of what you want to accomplish with your world or story?

To bring it to a small scale instead of a whole project, let’s talk about magic and technology. What is kind of rules could you have to guide you in developing your magic/technology? One of mine for magic is, How amazing it would look on in a movie? What a movie? This is a book, why are you talking about a movie?

Good question, it’s because I am the very visual person. I see a lot of this in my head and wonder if it would look just as good in a visual format, like a movie or tv. If my magic won’t look good on the big screen I am not interested in it. This is just me. I also how big can I go with it? Now, does it mean I need to go big with it? No. Will I, most likely because my stories are pretty big. I just like to know that if I want to I have lots of room to go with the magic.

What are some other rules that you could us:

  • My magic will be completely mystical
  • Magic can be understood, but not completely
  • It must good for fighting
  • Magic be able to do cool in huge battles
  • I want the magic to feel completely alien to everything else in the world.

Those are just a few ideas. What these rules do, is help guide you along with coming up with ideas to achieve what you want. An example: I have four ideas for magic, my rules or goals for my world are the last four ideas above. Magic can be learned, but not completely. Magic must be good in fighting, Magic must be able to do cool things in huge battles. Lastly, I want it to be alien to the rest of the world.

My ideas:

  1. Every time you use magic, the user is by affected. It can be good or bad.
  2. Spells requires very elaborate dances to do.
  3. Attacking one person directly, while magic will attack the enemies in the immediate surroundings.
  4. Magic can be used to keep a warrior going, if skilled enough take on a small army on one’s own.

Okay, not the best ideas, but it will work. Using my rules, which ideas would you not use in this world? It would be number 2. As cool a dance magic seems interesting to me, elaborate dances would take to long and not work well in huge battles, or even a one on one fight. It may fit feel alien, but that’s only one rule it meets.

When you have more ideas and they seem different or can’t work together, having rules or should I say guidelines to help you filter out ideas that may be good for a different story, but not the one you’re working on. So I ask again. What are your Rules?

That’s all for this week, check back next week. We will start on Magic, talk about if Magic should be mystical or knowledgable. Be sure to check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up.

 

Friday is here, and it finally feels like spring outside, well here in upstate New York. Today is the final entry or the wrap up of our series on Magic Systems. Don’t let the title fool you, there is far more to magic systems than what we have covered. Our first two posts

Being a very intelligent person, I like to know how things work. It is one of the reasons why I agree with authors that say magic should have rules, like Brandon Sanderson. Even if they are going to be more mysterious. I believe that even if you decide that you want your magic to be more mysterious and wonderful, you still need to know what it can and can’t do. This way you don’t fall into the trap using magic to bail yourself out of a situation that you can’t see a way out of. If you want to do that, you need to make sure you foreshadow it long before it happens in your story.

If there is anything I have learnt from reading on how to make Magic Systems is that you need to foreshadow any big twist with your magic. It is almost more important that you foreshadow the twist with magic far more than a big character reveal. This is most likely from hundreds of fantasy novels over the years where authors used magic to get themselves out of a jam. I am not about to say for them it is lazy writing. It is part of the advancement of fantasy, however, today it is considered lazy writing as we know better or should know better.

Sanderson Laws are a great starting point, and can help you figure out some things you need to know about your magic. Just because Sanderson or other authors or even because I know everything my magic system can do that will probably never make into my stories doesn’t mean you do. I recommend know as much as you can this way if you are writing a stand-alone novel and decide to do a sequel someday and you have shown everything your magic can do in the first book, you will have to build on it and that isn’t always the easiest to do. Some people can do it while others can’t. The changes could come as forced added to continue the story. You don’t want that feeling.

As I have said throughout this series is there are many resources out there on this topic, and you should take the time to use them. The biggest help for me was to two things, find fantasy worlds that have good magic systems and read them to see how they construct their rules or in the case of those that don’t tell the readers the rules, see if you can figure out what the rules could be. This will get you thinking along these lines. I can’t tell you all the times I have gone to Wikia page on different novel series or anime series to see how they go about their magic rules. I visited Naruto Wikia probably over a thousand times as the magic in my system was more of what you would find in anime, like Naruto or Dragon Ball Z.

Second read lots of fantasy or in my case since I am very busy audiobooks and reading or listening to the novel the magic is in will not only help you with crafting your magic but also show you how to write scenes on how to talk about magic so it doesn’t become just information dumps. If you are a writer you should be reading anyways, so why not read what you like or write.

Before I wrap up, just please don’t let this talk on the need for rules and what you should do. This is all opinion and while it is opinion there is a reason why lots of people hold to these opinions. Don’t let thinking of all of this. First and foremost if you have an idea for magic system forget all that I have said and other say and write down your ideas and when you can’t write any more down use the tools I provide and the other tools out there on the internet to help you take what you got and expand it into what you want it to be. You might find what you originally wanted is nothing close to what it can be. Your magic is only a piece of your story, and while it does need to time to be crafted, it should take up all of you time or the rest of your story will suffer.

That’s wraps our series on magic systems. Next week we start a brand new series and I believe will be a longer series than usual. It will be World Building and I really want to dive into that topic so I might break that series into sections. I’ll know more after this weekend. Check back on Monday for my weekly Writing Wrap-up. Hope  everyones writing week is going well.

 

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Welcome to this week’s, Craft post and the Penultimate in our Magic Systems Series. If you haven’t read any of the other posts in this series you can read by clicking on the numbers:  12, and 3. Last weeks was how I went about how I went about creating the magic systems in my series Forbidden Realm. I revised five systems, and at least three I started from scratch. Today I am going to provide you helpful ways to create your own from various sources across the internet and books or I should book. If you Google the topic of magic systems you will find endless posts on the subject. Not all will be helpful to everyone. I am saving you the trouble and going to give you a list of sights and overview of what they suggest. I don’t completely agree with all the advice these posts give, but neither should you. I personally believe you take the information you can and figure out what works for you. Yes, what you want and think on how Magic should work may not be groundbreaking as you think. As well, readers may not find it believable. There is a reason why,

Today I am going to provide you helpful ways to create your own from various sources across the internet and books or I should book. If you Google the topic of magic systems you will find endless posts on the subject. Not all will be helpful to everyone. I am saving you the trouble and going to give you a list of sights and overview of what they suggest. I don’t completely agree with all the advice these posts give, but neither should you. I personally believe you take the information you can and figure out what works for you. Let’s get started.

How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This book is more on world building, but there is a section on magic. I am not going to go into it, as it has been a while since I read it. More importantly, my copy has seemingly disappeared so I can’t skim it if I wanted to. I highly recommend this book not just for magic but for world building. There could be other books out there that tackle magic systems, but I am not aware of any. Search Amazon and see what you can come up with.

Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic: I have already posted these links in the second post, but I will do this again. 1st Law2nd, and 3rd. I cover these two laws in my first two posts of this series. I am not going to go over them again. They are a good read even if you don’t completely agree with them. If you haven’t read the first two posts, I do for the most part.

How to Create a Believable Magic System: This is one of the many sites I found when I searched Google. The author of this post focus more on aspects of writing for his/her advice. The questions recommend are along the line does it create: suspension, conflict, and others. These are very good questions to ask a part of developing your Magic System. There are five areas he covers and then there are more on what you should know about your system.

How To Worldbuild Magic: Short Rules for Real WorldsAnother good site that has rules you should keep in mind while developing your magic system and what do and not do in your story. The advice here applies to writing in general so if you’re not really interested in magic but writing this page can help.

12 Questions to Ask Yourself About the System of Magic in Your Fantasy NovelI think the title says it all. The questions presented here will help you develop your system as you need to know these things about your magic. Even if you are going to make it more mysterious and wonder then how it works. You as the author needs to know how it works so that you don’t just let anything happen and get blamed for using magic to solve a plothole or to get your characters out of a situation that you can’t figure out how to get them out of.

Creative Uses of Magic in FantasyThis site offer questions to consider while making your magic systems such as limits (Sanders Second Law) Sorry couldn’t help myself. Also suggestions ideas for expanding your ideas on what Magic can look like.

How to Create a Unique Magic System for your Book: I love WikiHow, you can find almost anything on that site. This page offers some ideas and thoughts to think about. It is a good reference page.

World Building: Magic Systems: This site builds more into the reason behind some of what I have posted in this series, but it is going to be the same. Such as Magic should have rules, limits, and so on.

That is all, I could keep giving pages to look at, but I tried to post only pages that have good information on them. I never intended to give you ever resource, but a starting grounds. Personally, the best starting ground is you. Figure out what you want from magic, if you have an idea such as let’s say Eye Color Magic. Jot your ideas out for this until you have nothing else and then look at these sites I have listed and others you find by searching the web. Take the information and go back to your ideas and make the system you want to make.

Just note and this is for more new writers, but experienced ones need to hear it as well. If you are thinking that you don’t need to follow the suggestions I  or other authors and writers are giving because you have your own thoughts on how it can be done, please by all means do what you wish. However, there is a reason why this information is similar and repeated. It works and it is built upon other authors who have tried and failed. Do what you think please, it will be a learning experience and I hope you succeed. However, don’t go bitchen that your readers or professionals you try to get to buy your story don’t find your system believable.

Okay, sorry but I had to say that as being one who thought I was going to change the world of writing when I started, having too big of a head can make you think you don’t need to listen to others advice. Thankfully, I didn’t have that big of a head. Creating a magic system is all about what you want to accomplish with it in your story. That’s all for today, please check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up, and next week for my wrap-up on magic. In two weeks time, I will be starting a new series on World Building.

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Welcome to this weeks Craft Post, as we continue with our series on Magic Systems. Today’s marks the third entry in the series, if you haven’t read the previous two, you can find the first one Magic: Mysterious or Scientific here.  The second Sanderson Other Two Laws of Magic here. While you don’t need to read those posts, it will probably be in your best interest as I will more than likely refer to them as I will be going over how I go about developing my Magic Systems, and as the title says, it is all about power.

For the past two months, I have been retooling the magic systems in my longest developing series, Forbidden Realm. There are currently seven systems, two are more race abilities that I still need develop more. The remaining five, one is not going to have much to do with the series so I only developed it enough for the role it will play. The other four got completely revamped and while I will say a few a similar there are deistic differences. Working on these systems is the biggest reason why I decided to do this series. Since this is a retooling of what I already had, it is not completely how I will develop a magic system from scratch. I will add that part when I do that for another series.

The first thing I do was read through what I have written and think through what I want to achieve from this system. I am a visusal person so, I have to know what it is going to look like when the magic is used. That is important. For Forbidden Realm, I had that already and took that and made changes based on what I was changing. The next thing I thought about was limits, you know Sanderson’s Second Law. (Read the second post to know what I am talking about). When I say limits, I mean what prevents the user from being to do whatever they want.

Yes, all of my magic systems you can technically do anything with them. The limits are character driven. To give you an example, two of the systems that were basically the same, the limits in place were physical. The users can only draw so much energy to cast their spells, and if they went beyond their bodies would be damaged. Depending on how much over their limit determined how much damage. Too much could lead to physical problems that never go away or death. With time and use, their body becomes stronger and able to draw more, but there is always a limit.

The other limits are how much energy is used to cast the spell. This all ties into how spells work, and can you cast any spell regardless of how much energy you can draw upon or making the spell as strong as the energy put into it. Or do spells require a specific amount of energy? If the user doesn’t have it, then the spell is unable to be used by them until they can meet the energy requirements.

From there I follow Sanderson Third Law of expanding on what I have. What I mean by expand is make what I have go deeper and able to do the most you can before adding some new power. I do sometimes add new powers or abilities and with each new addition. To give you and idea of what this, is I will add levels to the system so when the user reaches that level they gain something new but it isn’t really new. It is something that can be done, but the user needs the experience to reach it. The skill or ability usually removes some of the limits of the system. Only when I feel I have reached the end point where you can’t go any further will I add something else.

When a new power or ability that is added, must expand what can already be done but is different enough that it is its own thing. The new additions can make thing easier as it is something new and how it works has to work with what I already have. If that is the case, more limits are brought into as well. I do this until I reach the end point where if a character were to ever reach the end of the system they would be able to do whatever they wanted. Note, this is within the system. What I mean this, if the system is a combat magic system, at the top of the system and most powerful will be able to do any kind of combat they want, they won’t be using it to alter reality.

To sum up what I do is, know what the kind of magic I want, combat, tools, powers (think superheroes), etc. Then I take it to its absolute max power I want. Not all magic has to make a true master a god. From there it goes to the visual of what it looks like when used to the costs to cast and limits and expanding until I hit the max level of power I desire for that system.

Yes, I do. What, you are wondering why I am saying yes? The yes is to I develop the magic far beyond what could be seen in the story. I do this, so if I ever decide to tell other stories in the worlds they exist I have growth already in play and don’t have to come up with something new. Though most likely my characters will get very close to the top of the magic systems. Not always.

That is all I got this week, next week will be the last post in the series before the wrap-up. That is if I don’t find something I forgot to cover in the next two weeks. The Penultimate post will be ways to help you develop your own magic systems. From questions to ask yourself, or how other writers methods. Check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up post for this week.

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Welcome to this weeks Craft Post, Special Saturday Edition. Sounds cool and like you’re going to get something extra right? You’re not. I woke up this morning and realized it was Saturday. The day after, the Craft Post was supposed to be posted and it wasn’t. You know what, I was thinking about this post all week, except yesterday. When I got up, while I knew it was Friday as I had to work the mind frame of it’s Friday Craft Post day, never entered into my mind. Why? I am going to blame it on going back to the gym as what I did Thursday. Why? Because after that, I didn’t think of this post again until this morning. Is it an excuse? Absolutely!

Today we are starting a new series on Magic Systems. Why Magic Systems? Well, because I love them and this is my blog and get to write what I want… Didn’t like that reason? Okay, how about this? I have been working on magic systems for the last two months Forbidden Realm Series so it is on my mind. Still not good enough? Sorry, I am out of reasons. Not interested in this series, come back in five weeks. Why five weeks? Well, my original thought on this was going to be three posts and a wrap-up. I am still holding to that for the moment as I plan these posts out but don’t hold me to that. Seriously, don’t I’ll get to week three and remember like five more things I want to cover and expand the series. Now that you have been warned, let’s get into a simple but a must have conversation about Magic. Should magic be mysterious or scientific?

What do I mean by mysterious or scientific? There is a big debate over what magic should be in fantasy. Should magic have a sense of wonder and thus not really understood or should the reader be able to understand it what it is capable of? Think of it this way, Magic in Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. In Lord of the Rings, there is magic but you can’t tell how it works and what it is capable of. Sure, Gandalf knows what is capable of, but that isn’t what I am talking about. The reader doesn’t. When magic is used it is pretty cool, but causes problems as well. Harry Potter, you know how it works well for the most part. We know how to cast spells, but a case could be made that we don’t know the fully capable of magic in Harry Potter universe. There are better examples out there for a Magic with rules, but unless you read fantasy it is unlikely the examples will not be familiar. Harry Potter is about directly in the middle of the argument.

So what do you think? Should magic have a sense of wonder or have rules? Let me tell you… MAGIC MUST HAVE RULES!!!

Okay, for those of you who completely disagree with me, I gave you a moment to let your anger out. The whole idea of like this:

“How did you do that?” A young girl asked.
“Ease,” said the elderly man. “Magic. Enough said”

That mind frame once was enough for readers, not anymore. Now, let me clarify my loud statement of Magic must have rules. In itself, is clear but there is more to it. While magic must have rules of how it works, whether the readers know those rules are completely different things. What? You heard me. When magic doesn’t have rules, then it is too easy for magic to just solve problems without needing a reason. This is called Ex Deus Machina. In Greek Plays, all hell would eventually break out and to set things right one of the Greek Gods would show up at the end and fix everything. This is not a very satisfying resolution.

As an author, if you want magic to be mysterious to your reader more powerful to you. I am doing that in Seeing Through the Veil. While, you get an explanation of how magic works, but it doesn’t give you even close to how it really works. By then of the series, you will know more about it, but I haven’t decided if it will be a complete understanding. It is all how you package the wonder of magic, but unless you want to be accused of using Magic Ex Deus Machina to get your characters out of situations, you need to know how it works. The key word you. If you want magic to get them out of a situation and have your characters know why you need to foreshadow it. If it just happens, then it’s a cheap trick, but if you set up magic where certain things like what will happen to get your character out of a situation, then before it happens the reader know that happens well before, not after. After, it comes off as the Author of trying to explain their way out of a situation without really giving a good reason.

Brandon Sanderson, who is well known for have very detailed magic systems in all of his book series. You learn about them and he is very much about rules. However, he understands the idea of some wanting a sense of wonder from their magic. This is what he says about it.

“Mysterious magic or “Soft Magic”, which has no clearly defined rules, should not solve major problems, although it may create them.” Brandon Sanderson.

Please note that Sanderson says that no clearly defined rules, this means that they have not been set out, but doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. If you want to use magic to solve problems Brandon Sanderson has this to say:

“Ideally, the magic is explained to the reader before it is used to resolve a conflict. Much like a sword or a large pile of money, magic is a useful resource. Understanding the resources available to a character helps the reader understand the character’s actions. It avoids questions like, “Where did he get that?” or “How did he do that?””

 

There you have it, Magic needs rules but just because it has rules doesn’t mean the reader ever needs to know them. If you disagree with this, that is your opinion, but those who prefer their magic have a sense of wonder over rules agree that magic has rules. They just don’t reveal those rules. They may give hints about it, but not ever explain them. Again, if you still disagree then do it how you wish, but just know if you don’t do it extremely well, and even then you will be seen as being amateur. This is my opinion, and it is based on lots of research on the topic.

That is all for this week, hope this post didn’t come off too preachy. I don’t hide my feelings on magic and rules. All the quotes from Brandon Sanderson come from his First Law of Magic. There are three of them, I plan to go over the other two next week and move on from there. However, as I write that post they may be turned into two separate posts. While they are good ideas, I think I can cover the importance of them in one post, but that could change. I do want to cover how I go about developing my systems for those who are interested in how to actually create a magic system. Check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up.

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Wow, this week went by fast. Didn’t I just write last weeks writing wrap-up? I am not even talking about the craft post a few days. That is what happens when your sick all week. Not having to work for four days thanks to being sick a week ago from Saturday. Then having time two days off for my birthday, and then not schedule Tuesday is great. Lucky, me tossing my cookies Saturday wasn’t the only a one time day. No, I didn’t get that sick. I got my seasonal allergies and boy they hit me hard Wednesday and still recovering since.

Progress this week, was limited. While I made some progress on my magic systems for Forbidden Realm. This was before I got sick. I got the basis down while doing laundry, as the sinus pressure started to build Wednesday. I think this is enough beating around the bush, and just say it. No, writing got done. Yep, another week, I thought about just not mentioning but I need to. I owe someone twenty dollars. So, I am pissed. At myself of course, and I could say I have an excuse, but I posted last week if I don’t hit a thousand words and didn’t leave any wiggle room. Now, who am I going to pay.

While, I got nothing story writing done. I have figured out my voice for Chronicles of Skylar Grant. That is good, and I will be starting that as soon as I finish this post. To ensure I write, I am making my pledge of paying someone a hundred dollars if I don’t write a thousand words this week. Since twenty dollars wasn’t enough, clearly I need a large amount, to encourage me. Progress, on Forbidden Realm, is going well. Beyond the magic systems that are ongoing, I have figured out my hook for the first book. Something, I really need to focus on when outlining. Not sure what happened, from working on Marks of Eilira and knowing to hook the reader and then writing Seeing Through the Veil back in May and forgetting the hook.

Guess that is what happens when you don’t write constantly, you forget what you have learned. Trying to remember my development of Seeing Through the Veil, as I go through this process for Forbidden Realm. It is fun, but damn I forgot how much work it is. However, I think I have figured out my next topic for the craft post after the conclusion of Character this Friday. I am debating between World Building and Magic Systems. Since I am doing both of those right now. I got a little less than two weeks to figure that out.

Being the middle of March already, my mind is also processing possible edits for the first draft of Seeing Through the Veil. Soon, I will be doing what a full-time author who doesn’t have a day job does, only I have one. I am excited. There were times, I never thought I would reach this point where I was trying to write, edit and develop another series, all the same, time. All while having to work. Maybe, some authors who work a day job might not do that, but I have to be one of them if I want to make the progress on all the stories I want to write.

That’s all for this week, expect a quick post later today or later this week once I hit a thousand words. I’ll also post a photo as proof that I have paid someone the twenty dollars. I am also going to try to start posting short post around Wednesday on articles I find about writing. The goal is to do this weekly, but I am going to do this as when I have an article to share. They maybe old posts but hopefully they will fresh and new not years. However, if the article has good information that can help, then who cares how old the post is. Hope everyone has a good writing week.

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Welcome to this weeks Writing Wrap-up. This will be a short post, as the title say two weeks. That means two weeks without writing. I know, not the best thing for me after writing every day except for a few days. I can’t say that I have not written this past week. It just wasn’t writing a words of a story. I have been working on character profiles for my main characters for my Forbidden Realm Series. That is what I am working now. I was hoping to have this all done to start writing now, but it just didn’t happen.

Starting tomorrow, I am going start writing something. Not sure what, but it will be something to write. It may be just something short or part of something else. Hell, maybe I will go with my Chronicles of Skylar Grant story. Back on my old blog I post a story I wrote by the seat of my pants. Some really cool story ideas, but bad. Mostly because I didn’t know where I was going. This was back in 2011, but I didn’t finish the last few chapters until 2013 maybe it was 2014. I came up with other stories and I might jump into it and see where it goes.

I have no clue when I am going to start writing Forbidden Realm, which will not be the title. The story has changed so much that the title no longer applies, well to this version. Since I wanted to be writing it right now. I have several things to finish. Two of the three magic systems that appear in the book, and some organizations step. Also, I need to update profiles and make the changes characters. If, I was going to go my old way I would have to outline five more books. So, I can have stuff to write when my drafts are done, I am going only outline a book at a time. I need to know where I am going and the subjects of each book. I have to the world develop as well.

We will see how it goes, but it won’t for every series. Some series are easier to develop then others. Time will tell. That is all for this week, check back on Friday for another most likely the final post in my series of Characters. I will be talking about characters backgrounds. Hope everyone has a good writing week.

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        Have you ever started to think of a great idea for a novel in a specific genre like fantasy or science fiction, and go to research it and walk away discouraged do what seems like an impossible task? Example, Fantasy you research and find that you need a very in-depth world with many different races, and new ones as not to rehash what is now tropes (Elves, Dwarfs, etc). A complex magic system on how it works and what you can and can’t do. Then there is the map, and the economics of the world, and societies and backstory.
        I ask you this, because when you go to write a really unique story and you have do develop your world and then see what is out there it can be disheartening. You see these massive well thought out worlds and that trickle down and in-depth backstories and myths. You might be thinking I can never do that. I going to say you can, as I used to be one of those people who could come up with a great concept but wanted nothing to do with that development of it and now I am writing multi-book series. It takes practice, and while you will need to do spend time working on somethings, to make your world feel like a world there are other things you don’t need to. Below is a make shift conversation I b/s, however it is based on many different author interviews and conversations I have read and watched lately.

        “Tell me about your book,” saids a well named author.
        “My book (insert your book premise here) and it takes place (insert your world name), and I have they amazing map,” says writer.
        “Cool, why do you have a map?”
        “I’m writing fantasy, you have to have a map.”
        “Do, you want a map?”
        “It doesn’t matter what I want, how will the readers know where things are if there isn’t a map?”        “I ask if you want a map, because this is your story if you don’t want a map in it then you don’t need one.”
        “Will a publisher publish my book if I don’t have a map?”
        “If a your book is as good as you say it is and a publisher refuses to publish you because you don’t have a map, then that person needs to be fired.”

        What are you thoughts on this? Do you think if you write a specific genre you need to have certain things? I do, but that is, just my opinion. One of the few conversations I based my little conversation on is from a convention panel where some of the top names in Fantasy were talking about magic systems. They each had their own thoughts on how magic should work, but they had an interesting advice for writers. You can watch Here! I am not sure exactly where the advice is, but it somewhere in the middle and it is Rothfuss the guy with the massive bread says starts and others add onto it. You don’t have to watch whole click get the point.

“If like a very in-depth magic system like Brandon Sanderson or maps then have them. The reason why Sanderson has maps and detailed magic systems in his books because that is what he likes.”

        That is a paraphrase of what Rothfuss says to get the topic going. Several of the other authors pile on that and agree with it. Just because you see these things in fantasy or in a genre doesn’t mean you have to do them. If you’re writing a Young Adult novel and don’t like first person view point, don’t write in first person. It is your story, tell it how you want to tell it. When you think about this advice it makes since, everything you put into your novel/series you have to spend time on. If you don’t like in-depth magic systems or hard science in your science fictions why the hell would you do put them into your fantasy or science fiction story? When you put something in just because you feel you need to, is just going to make it harder to write.
        Why would you spend hours on end to come up with a complex economic system for your fantasy world when you don’t care about economics? You think just using gold coins as your currency works fine. Half the stuff you put into developing that system will not make it into the book unless you dealing with currency exchange between different kingdoms. Or you lead character is a banker in one of the kingdoms. Rothfuss, from he video loves Economics systems and figured out the whole system on a classroom size chalk board, which he still has. People are still asking him about it, even though nearly all of it doesn’t show up in the books.
        If you watch the full video, you also hear how the authors say why develop a whole world with everything in it, it will be fifty years before you get to write the story you want to write. Not even Tolkien developed his world with everything in it for Lord of the Rings. It was years later that he added other elements, but he still told his story. The things that he loves, languages and cultures were what he focused on. It is only in the Silmarillion where Middle Earths creation account is told and all he gaps leading up to the lord of the Rings completely shown.
        This is some of the best advice I have gotten in years. I love a well developed world, but if I don’t like certain things why would I put them in. Maps, love them. I get to see what the world looks like and where things are, but never refer to them when going through a book. Actually, when it comes to non-earth worlds I think you need a map. Not a physical one that goes into your book, but you the writer need one so you know where things are. If that is a thirty-second drawn one on a napkin or a beautifully drawn out one that you bought for a few hundred dollars, or one that is in your head.
        I say this, because when you don’t have a map to reference then things magically move. J.K. Rowling has mentioned a few times in interviews that fans had pointed out to her that classes rooms magically changes floors throughout the books. Stuff like this bugs me. Thankfully I didn’t notice that in Harry Potter when I read them, or it would have lessen my liking of them. This of course is just my opinion. What do you think? Should you aim to enrich your world with everything you can or is it okay to only put what areas you like into your world? A few other things you might think about is, are you putting these things in for you or for your readers? If you’re thinking about your readers, stop. This is your book, and while you need to know what is expected if you just copy what everyone else is doing, your not going to stand out.
        Please leave your thoughts in the comments, I would love to know your thoughts. Until next weeks Craft post, you can check back on Friday to see my weekly writing wrap-up.
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