Today, Rebecca Hamilton, author of THE FOREVER GIRL, dropped by to talk about her five tips for writing magic.
Hello all! Rebecca Hamilton here to talk to you today about writing magic! I’m going to give you my top five tips!
1) Set It Up
This is true with all kinds of fiction. If you are going to murder someone with a gun in chapter 10, be sure we catch a glimpse of a gun sometime before that. Yes, even with magic! You can’t have your hero save the day with magic when we’ve never seen them use magic before, or never seen a hint of what magic they might even possess. So be sure that you plant those seeds at the beginning of the story if you want a tree in the story later on.
2) Ground it in Reality
I suppose this is a matter of preference, but speaking of my own, I prefer magic I can believe in. Give me a reason—an idea—why magic could be real and why it exists in this world. Some great ways of going about this is looking into history and seeing how your magic can make sense of unexplained historical events. This ties magic with reality and brings both to life in a new and believable way.
3) Be Consistent
Even if you don’t see a need to follow the advice of number two (high fantasy authors usually create a world and world history of their own that is extra fantastical), you should still keep the rules of your world and of the magic within it consistent. This makes it easier for the reader to suspend disbelief. For example, on Earth, what goes up must come down. We need a reason when it doesn’t. So, if in your world, pineapples deplete a character’s magic, be sure that is always the case, or that there is reason when it doesn’t. Being consistent makes your magic believable or at the very least allow your reader to be able to suspend disbelief.
4) Find Inspiration, but Make it Your Own.
Readers often are looking for books that are similar to stories they have loved, but that are unique enough that they won’t feel like they are reading the same story twice. This is a hard balance to strike for an author, but it can be done. If you make the magic of your story too out there from what has been done before, it may alienate or confuse the reader. However, you still want to be unique, to surprise your reader, to convey your own original ideas. So perhaps you write a story with a common magic technique—such as telekinesis. How then, do you make that unique to your story? Perhaps it’s in the way your character achieves these abilities or how these abilities can be used. That’s up to you 🙂
5) Include the Weaknesses
Invincible characters are no fun. Yes, your reader is going to assume that somehow, your hero will win in the end. And they may even be angry if that is not the case. However, you can’t hand success over to your character that easily! Make them work for it. Make the reader think, “HOW the hell is the hero going to get out of this mess?!” And they won’t think that if your character is all-powerful with invincible magic. Who’s magic is the exact match for your character? What character has magic that defeats your hero’s, forcing them to think creatively to overcome the situation? Don’t be afraid to put your character through hell. Give them a weakness.
I’m keeping it to just these five tips for today, because I feel these are the five major things a writer needs to do to write magic well. And, to be honest, these tips are true of writing pretty much any genre!
If you want to learn more about me or my books or check out other blog’s I’m visiting this month, please visit me at www.beccahamiltonbooks.com/blog/