The magic abilities assigned to each character reflect their personality and develop overtime, but I almost bombard them with restrictions, not just for conflict, but for strategic problem solving. In the world setting of my story, everyone is a mage or a magical being and they are all part of various societies that have laws for and against particular paths of magic. There is a reigning government in place that most of the mages and magical beings respect, but there are some “outlaws”, for lack of a better term. So while I was thinking about the structure I have in place, I was also thinking about what makes a good magic battle. Combining my own imagination with Timothy’s advice, here’s what I came up with…
The system I have in place has been going quite well. Here’s a preview of the editing key I created on Instagram.
It took me a couple of hours just to edit six pages…out of 470ish? Haha. It’s great fun, actually. After stressing over the ending and coming back to the beginning, the ending looks clearer and easier to manage. For now, I’m at the beginning, relearning how to write exposition well. I found a great video for that actually.
This is the same channel I recommended on my Magic Systems post. I’m definitely going to be sharing more resources in the future. I’m hunting for them constantly and get excited when they have damn good advice. Hope this helps anyone who needs it. Speaking of which, here are two of the books I’m currently studying right now, just to get the basics down and start thinking outside the box. Click on the pictures to check them out.
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane K. Cleland – I bought this a couple years ago. More than anything, this book reminds you to keep your audience in mind and helps you keep your writing fresh and inventive.
Hope that helps anyone who needs it. I’m grateful to have them…obviously
Words Written: 2240 Current Word Count Total: 91,203
Research Topics: – GOAT DEMONS! – First and final draft plotting/organization ideas
Additional Work: – Polished some character design/backstory – Made major editing changes
Work Process: Well, first of all, I have some amazing writing music (the tracks by Raydar are SO GOOD).
Second, holy shit. I had a lot of fun! I love writing fight scenes! Doing my research the other day certainly helped (Bless you, Tolkien!). Although I know I’m really going to have to go back and consider my diction more carefully when I’m in second draft mode, I certainly feel like I made a breakthrough. Magic is hard to choreograph, especially when it involves so many demons and the undead…and wielding elements in a way you HOPE doesn’t remind people too much of Avatar: The Last Airbender (I don’t even have a lot of martial arts in this chapter). Still great though.
I also noticed, compared to some authortubers I checked out today, I don’t really organize my plot with sticky notes or on a board or whatever until doing the second draft. I have written some chapter summaries down and it helps me link to past chapters, but I can’t really plot the whole story from beginning to end with notes or stickies because it’s still fresh in my head. When I write it out, it just sort of happens. The character arcs and main plot just flow. I usually pause when I’m fleshing out lore or a character background, but that’s about it.
Okay, I’m really exhausted. I wrote for four hours straight. Hella proud. Good job me.
What I’m going to discuss is nothing new to fantasy writers. I’m just expressing my excitement. I discovered a more analytical way to explain the magic system of my world without infodumping. Because if you’re going to be a hunter of mages and witches, you better know your s**t. Although my hunters fight fire with fire (literally and figuratively), I don’t want the combat scenes to be the only way my audience sees magic in action. As someone who performs witchcraft, I know there’s so much more to magic than fighting, healing, cursing, banishing, empowering, and the like. There’s a way you should study magic where you do your best to understand its limitations and potential when it flows through yourself and others or else things backfire and get messy. I think the best magicians in history and now are the ones who developed a sort of classification for types of magic that are not just informative, but also personal while avoiding permanence. There should be a balance or correspondence like the hermetic teachings emphasize. I don’t believe all magical techniques are meant to be uniform because sometimes magic is just an experiential whirlwind, but there’s something really tantalizing and sexy about analytical breakdowns for the sake of efficiency.
Or maybe my sapiosexual, Aquarian energy gives me weird kinks. I don’t know. Don’t judge me.
So, I just shared an article I posted today! It was a very enthusiastic review/recommendation of S. Kelley Harrell’s Runic Book of Days, which I strongly recommend to baby witches or pagans on the rise in norse shamanism, but ultimately, this is a blog about my progress as novelist and I’d like to discuss my thought process and construction of magic in my fantasy/scifi story. Rune magick has helped me with my confidence as a person, but definitely gave me inspiration as a writer.
Primarily there are two magic systems in this genre: hard and soft. My novel, Spirit Strings: Initiation, actually fixates on these systems because one is praised while the other is considered dangerous and I have my protagonist decide the truth of these magical systems for herself. The use of rune magick in my story, although they aren’t the Elder Futhark (yet? lol), would be considered part of the hard system, I think. Two videos immediately came to mind and I think if you’re reading this as a fantasy writer, you’ll definitely benefit from watching them. A YouTuber known as Hello Future Me made a concise video on the soft and hard magic systems. If you’re trying to figure out what direction you want to take with your magic system, I recommend giving them a listen. He’s quite silly, but I think he explained the systems wonderfully.
Anyway, conflict, cooperation, and consequence are essential in a story’s plot; if your story has magic, following the Sanderson laws is a good place to start. For my story, I really wanted the use of magic to be a controversial and stressful topic because the ability to wield it lives in everyone and facing the responsibility of using magic can be twisted into either oppression or empowerment. That is commonly seen in fantasy, of course, but I’m striving to go beyond character development. I want a psychological shift in my characters and I want my audience to wonder who’s going to snap, this way, as I reference Sanderson’s first law, my audience’s understanding of magic won’t bring a detrimental effect to the plot whether they want or expect hard magic or soft magic. As an Edgar Allan Poe fan, my knowledge of the supernatural, paranormal, and psychology wasn’t expansive when I was introduced to his work, but I was still allured by his writing because I connected to his commonly used first-person narrative voice. He wanted me to be right beside him while he experienced what terrified him. Audiences understand fear, stress, and other very common human instances. So when it comes to the magic system, yes, it’s important to have those foundational laws and thorough world building, which I’m definitely aiming for, but as I write, I want the magic system to be fueled by strained perceptions. I want the “cost” in hard magic to feel like suffocation. I want the “sense of wonder” in soft magic to reflect falling helplessly into the dark unconscious, the abyss of the psyche.
I want this because maybe you and others have ventured there before. I certainly did while working with rune magick guided by The Runic Book of Days. In my article, I spoke about the springtime, but in my novel series, you’ll get a glimpse of my bittersweet winter. I’m not trying to be edgy; just being honest. I relish in the fact that I trudged through my cold unconscious and survived. I still visit from time to time enthusiastically.