Limits in Magic Systems

In fantasy, you tend to have magic all over the place. Often times, it is used by elves and wizards, while regular people don’t tend to use it unless there’s some kind of magical object. But in a story, what kind of magic system works best? How do you know the magic isn’t too overwhelming but at the same time know it has a purpose in the fantasy world. Well, today I’d like to answer that.

One of my favorite authors has developed a set of rules for how he makes his magic work. One of these rules is fundamental to my writing, and that is that your magic system should provide the character with some kind of power, but it should have limitations, costs, and weaknesses.

In my novel Kingslayer, the main villain possesses a ring that grants immortality and prevents all injury, with one exception. There is also a magic sword that can cut through any object, including the flesh of immortals. This means that the magic ring has a fatal flaw: the one who owns this sword can still kill them. This is a weakness and a limitation to the magic that works quite well in my opinion (though I’m biased).

Another example of how this works is in Lord of the Rings. The Ring of Power can do all kinds of crazy things, but there’s a terrible cost involved. Eventually, the person who owns the ring goes mad and becomes addicted to the intoxicating power. If that’s not a cost, I don’t know what is.

The bottom line is that, when making a magic system, you have to create some kind of balance or your readers won’t be able to suspend their believe in your fantasy.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Advertisements

Setting

In writing, one of the key elements to making a story great is determining where your story takes place. The location, the culture, and the people in that culture are key when figuring out what happens in your story.

The setting is, in a lot of ways, the most important thing in your story. In a lot of ways, it impacts your characters more than even the plot itself. Without setting, what is to determine how your characters feel about religion and politics? Setting can also define how the characters in question dress. Do they wear cloaks? A turban?

I say all of this because knowing where your story is set is an important thing for you to know even before you write the first word. If you’re setting your story in the real world, it’s key to figure out where. If it’s fantasy, do you have two parallel worlds set in the same place like Harry Potter, or do you have a single world set apart from our own like in Lord of the Rings? In both those cases, some world building is required, but in Harry Potter, some knowledge of the real world is also required.

When it comes to world building, you make everything up from the culture to the religion. But if you incorporate real world settings in the mix, research is mandatory.  The bottom line is that if you want a setting for your world, you need to know everything you can about that setting before you even type the first word.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

World Building

In novel writing, research is key. You have to know what you are writing about before you go about writing the subject in question. But in fantasy and other genres with made up settings, world building takes the place of research, and it is the author’s job to create a world that only exists in the mind.

In order to do that properly, you have to look at things that exist in the real world and ask yourself how that can relate to a fictional one. In the real world, you have cars and other motorized vehicles, but how do people get around in a fantasy world?

Also, if you’re writing fantasy, what does the politics or the religion of people look like? Is your government a monarchy with a democratic twist? Is your religion a polytheistic version of Christianity? Also, what do the world cultures look like? In my novel, Kingslayer, I based a lot of my culture on Europe (not exclusive to England), plus I added a few hundred years so the characters could carry guns and ride airships and trains.

One of my all time favorite examples to world building is Harry Potter. In the magical world, there is a real world equivalent to pretty much everything. For sports, you have Quidditch and the Tri-wizard Tournament; for school, of course, the students focus on the magical arts as opposed to math and grammar, and instead of your ACT’s you have your OWL’s and NEWT’s; and you even have the media with The Daily Prophet.

I haven’t even touched on the Chocolate Frog Cards, so needless to say, HP is chock full of examples of world building. These are just a few ways a writer can make their world truly unique. And in fact, if you are setting your story in a secondary world, there are even more things you can do that are ripe for the picking.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

Update: Summer 2017

I know I haven’t been making my regular posts, but I assure you I’m not chillin’ with Tolkien, Poe, Twain, and other dead writers. I have, on the other hand, been very busy. I’ve been taking a senior-level playwriting class, after all. And before that, I was visiting my brother and his girlfriend out in the boonies of Angleton, Texas.

Several projects in a row have fallen apart–including the epistolary novel I spoke about on Twitter–but I did manage to get something else done. I managed to fully draft a piece of flash fiction, which will be published as bonus content in the back of Kingslayer with a simple update to my files (perks of self-publishing). This story actually stems from the failed prequel for my novel that never got finished, but I digress. I’m also going to be publishing an appendix in the back of the book to further explain some of the magical items in my created universe.

Something else I’ve been working on is a new cover for Kingslayer. The current one just isn’t working or getting the book noticed, so I figured a change is in order. It’ll be up soon.

Right now, novels just aren’t working for me. I’m starting to think that short fiction and flash fiction are where I need to focus my attention, until I can readjust my attention to novels again. That’s why I’m considering doing a collection of fantasy flash fiction (some of which will be from the world of Kingslayer, while others will be from entirely new worlds).

All in all, I wanted to update everyone on what I am doing so they can get a bigger picture for why I’ve been absent from the blog scene.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Food in Fantasy

There are several novels out there that are in the fantasy genre and have some kind of unique food or beverage that exists within the author of that novel’s made-up fantasy world. One famous example is butterbeer from Harry Potter, which has been created in real life, but at one point was a complete fabrication. Another example is from my own novel Kingslayer, where the characters can be seen eating a dish called “dragonloaf,” which is basically a meatloaf made of dragon meat.

If you want to truly make your fantasy world come to life, it is important to give the characters interesting food choices. For example, Japan has far different food choices than Italy. Part of this is due to geographic differences, but part of it is also because their culture is different. Both those things are unique in a secondary world fantasy, and you can have even more possibilities when you consider that magical creatures exist in your fantasy world.

What kinds of animals do the people of your world eat, and how are they prepared? Both these questions will depend on the culture of your fantasy world. Let’s say that grapes are outlawed by your world’s government, so what other fruits would be used to make wine? These are very important kinds of things to think about if fantasy is the kind of book writing that you want to do.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Symbols in Fantasy

Hello everyone! As you will certainly have noticed from my recent blog posts, I’ve been focusing a lot more lately on world building in the fantasy genre. This will be the last of those for awhile, since my scheduled posts list doesn’t have another until this time next month; however, for today’s blog I thought I’d get into a few things about symbolism in the fantasy genre.

This is an interesting topic, since there is a lot of symbolism in the business world, as well as the political and religious worlds as well. Short of going out into nature, coming across organizations with insignias or something of the sort is impossible. But in fantasy, how should a writer tackle the subject? Well, the answer is everywhere in the books we like to read. For example, in Harry Potter you have four houses at Hogwarts, and each of those houses has a Coat of Arms. In other books, a Royal Crest like this could represent a family that is part of the political landscape of your country. Or in the more religious side of things, you may have a symbol that represents a specific religion.

These are important things to think about, because even taverns in fantasy worlds will have a crest of some kind representing it. Coming up with things like this will help your reader feel more immersed in your world, but it will also add a little flavor to your world. For example, why does that organization represent itself with that particular Coat of Arms? Answering that question will help your reader better understand your world.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.