Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Magic Systems

What am I reading now?  Spellbinding (Maya Gold)

Annd . . . what do I think so far?  It wouldn’t be such a big deal to be descended from the witches killed in Salem, Mass in the 1600’s, unless you were also a witch and it could cost your life too. Well, some things never change.

Abby definitely thinks the upside of the witchy-thing is the ability to cast love spells—one in particular—to land the hottest date to Prom. (Admit it. You've wished you could do that.) Another downside—because Abby knows very little about witchcraft and the people who govern that world she could be at risk from the very people she needs to trust to teach her about it.

Enter gorgeous, green-eyed Rem. Not only does he know about magic, he knows Abby, at least she thinks he does. And he’s starred in her dreams more than once before she ever met him.

This book gets bonus points for being a clean read. Teachers can put this book in their classroom libraries without worrying. 
Magic Systems
Fiction is telling lies that you want to believe and sharing those lies with readers who go along with the fibs. Why? As the author, the reader's  contract is that they won't call you on the make-believe unless you break your own rules or you fail to make your rules believable. Here are a few questions I'm using to help me consider the magic system in one of my current stories:

1. Who can do the magic? Why? Who can't do the magic? Why not? What are their reactions to it?
2. What is the source of the magic?
3. How strong is it?
4. Is it always available and the same strength? If not, what makes it change?
5. Who knows about the magic?
6. What are the limitations?
7. What is the "cost" of using the magic?
8. Is it socially or morally acceptable? Why?
9. How does the magic work?
10. What is the history of the magic?
11. What at the uses and abuses? Can it be controlled? For good? For evil?
12. Are there artifacts or objects involved?
13. Is there another book that has used this type of magic recently in your genre? How is this different?
14. Who are the supporters? Who are the enemies of the magic system?
15. What is disruptive to the magic?
16. What strengthens the magic or magic system?
17. When and where is the magic wielded? How is it tied to that time and place?
18. How does the magic system create the plot, characters, and setting issues of conflict in the story?
19. What are the variations in its use among the characters who have magic?
20. Is it permanent or temporary? Why?


Donna K. Weaver said...

This is awesome, Canda. I'm copying it for when I get back to my YA fantasy series. This is one of the things I struggle with.

"Fiction is telling lies that you want to believe and sharing those lies with readers who go along with the fibs."

This made me laugh.

alisonmillerwoods said...

I love that list of questions. Perfect for making sure the magic system works. Thank you for posting those!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

This is a really great list! Bookmarked! Thanks. I always have trouble fleshing out the limits of my magic or sci-fi systems. Thank you for this.

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