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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Build a Story World

Cost of Magic

All use of magic costs.

Whether you use man-made or magic-made, the actions and choices need to be believable, and they must follow the rules you set up for them. No last minute, “oh look what else this can do too.” Decide early on what are the levels of safety and what are the levels of danger. How many times can a person cross dimensions before needing a re-boot, or cannot go back at all?

Begin simply and then build on it as needed so as not to have it become so complicated that you lose yourself and your reader in the technical aspects. Is it a ticking clock like Cinderella’s midnight, or a magic potion that requires a fallen star?

For example, in his MG story Elidor, Alan Gardner uses disbelief to first bridge the children’s entrance into the land of Elidor and, then later, Elidor’s entrance into their world. The characters repeatedly insist these things can’t be happening, that there must be an explanation, like a dream. Roland alone continues to insist on examining the odd occurrences in their landscape, and trying to find a solution.

 David says,“And he’s been reading books. He says it could all have been what he calls ‘mass hallucination,’ perhaps something to do with shock after the church nearly fell on us. He says it does happen.”

“And I suppose the mud we scraped off was a mass hallucination,” said Roland.

The atmosphere is set even before the strange events begin to occur.  The four children are trying to keep busy so they won’t get bossed around at home packing for their move the next day.  The youngest, Roland, finds a postal map, turns a dial and they decide to find the street.  When the streets become more and more deserted and Roland voices concern, he is reminded that he’s always imagining things.

Exercise: Set up a situation where a main character experiences evidence of magic for the first time and explains it away using concrete logical thinking.

Share: What happens when she realizes that what is happening cannot be explained away.

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