The next in our world building series of blogs is on the magic in your fictional world. This is an optional thing. You can skip it if you don’t plan on having your characters use magic. If you do plan on having magic be part of your story, you have some work to do before you begin writing. You need to set up the magic in your story. You need to determine what magic can and can’t do. You have questions you must answer about the magic.
The first question is where does the magic come from? Is it from nature? Or it might be from the universe or granted by a deity. Are there limits to the magic? The answers to these questions are important. You might not think so, but it is. Unlimited magic can solve all the story problems and you have no story. If the characters can only use magic when the deity says they can, there can be conflict in the story. Conflict drives fiction.
Can anyone use magic in your world or is it only a select few? What can your magic users use it for? Is there a hierarchy of magic users? What is the political structure of the magic in your world? Is it generally accepted? Feared? Or is it reviled? Are magic users stigmatized? The answers to these questions can determine the shape of your story.
Are there magical beings in the world? I’m talking about creatures like unicorns, basilisks, and other such creatures. Can they cast simple spells? Are they potential dangerous to the characters? If so, how are they countered?
What kind of spells are available to your characters? Are your characters able to devise new spells or are there a set number and types of spells? Is the magic subject to legislation? Are there any natural limitations to spell work? Who regulates the magic? Does anyone? Is there a police force of sorts for the magic?
Magic can solve a lot of problems in your fictional world. So you need to be careful that it can’t solve the main story problems. Can your characters use magic? Are they non magic users and afraid of it? Are they in training to use it?
You also need to detail spells and what they do. You need to have your characters interact with the magic if you plan on having it in your story. If you work out the details of the magic ahead of writing the story, you will find it easier to write the story. So do your homework first and get the magical system set up before you write one word of your story. Then you won’t find yourself written into a corner where your story ends in a premature fashion.
Remember you are the ultimate deity in your fictional world. So go ahead and play with your characters. Mess up their lives. Have them battle for what they want. Your story will be the better for it.