How to Enrich Your Story with Magic

By Amy Caylor

I’ve always adored fantasy. I’m fascinated with princesses in castles and knights battling dragons. But I especially love magic (and yes, Christians can write about it with discretion). To live in a world where books have self-turning pages and torn clothes can be mended with a gesture would be delightful.

I’m particularly drawn to unique magic systems. Over the years, I’ve observed stories where magic was thrown in as a component of the genre, and others where magic was purposefully included. Brandon Sanderson’s laws of magic have helped me identify two factors that set apart a magic system or any sort of extraordinary powers/abilities: costs and limitations. With these in mind, you can develop a distinct magic system and enhance your story.How_to_Enrich_Your_Story_with_Magic

Establishing the Cost for Using Magic

Characters should experience consequences for exercising their abilities. Not all magic systems have drawbacks, and when they do, it’s typically energy—such as in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. After a magician casts a spell, he feels tired. I can count on one hand the books I’ve read that had a downside to magic besides energy. Thus, energy-cost systems will likely be familiar to readers, which may be what you seek, but unusual disadvantages to magic will make your world more interesting to visit. [Read more…]

Keeping Readers Grounded in Strange Worlds

Have you ever worried that the fantasy world and story you are writing is too weird to be believable? Some fantasy stories are so far afield of reality that their authors have (valid) concerns that readers will be lost and skeptical of the world, causing them to miss the important aspects (characters, theme, emotions).

Does this mean we can’t tell bizarre fantasy stories? No. But our stories need to be organized and handled correctly. Here are a few tips to make your fantasy world comprehensible, and even familiar, to readers.Keeping_Readers_Grounded_in_Strange_Worlds

Focus on Humanity

If your story involves shifting fifth dimensions, alternate-dimension non-humanoids that feed off of human emotions, and an evil shadow which distorts time, it may run the risk of being too kooky. The best way to curb its nutcase behavior and mold it into something worth reading is to fixate on the most relatable part of your story: the characters. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

A Three Tiered World

By Hope Schmidt 

I’ve created three fantasy worlds in the past four years. Designing worlds, writing legends, holding the first printed copy of your book…it carries a thrill of creation. Of bringing to light something which didn’t exist before.

For those on one end of the spectrum, creating worlds is exciting and it can be tempting to avoid actually writing the story while forming layer upon layer of details worthy of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. On the other end of the spectrum are those who want to get the world building over as quickly as possible so they can move onto the story. In either case, it’s important to have enough development in your world so the story rings true and yet not get so bogged down or glide so high that you don’t ever move on with the story by which this world will be known. 3tieredworldpinterest

It may be easiest to view your world like a three-tiered structure and, while I’m focusing on fantasy worlds here, this same template could work if you are writing about our own world in the far future.

 

3 Tiers to every story world

 

1. The Foundational Tier

The first, or bottom level is the Foundational Tier of your world. This is your geography. The lay of the land. Whether you have one nation or several, there are the same basic formations such as rivers, forests, mountains, cities and roads. National lines need to be drawn and the nations themselves named (there’s no need to worry about national flags and cultures yet…that will come in a bit).

Also part of this first layer are fun details, like how many suns and moons your nation has. And then there are other aspects which you may or may not decide to develop depending on whether you need them or not…details such as what stars travelers use to guide them, nighttime constellations, weather patterns, unique storms, and length and type of seasons.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/