We probably all wish that we could cast spells and charms, but let’s face it: magic is hard. Even for writers. Although magical elements are really fun in novels, they can present an author a whole new set of rules. Over at Literary Rambles, Laura Lascarso talks about making magic real in writing. She uses Ella Enchanted, a personal favorite, to explore the development of a magical world. A couple of her suggestions:
“Introduce magic early on. In the first chapter, there should be a hint of the supernatural. It’s not cool to get halfway through a book and discover that your main character is really a mummy without several big hints along the way. It works against a reader’s suspended disbelief. In EE, Ella is cursed by a fairy as an infant and it’s introduced in the very first paragraph. Straight away, the reader knows what kind of story this is going to be and can adjust their expectations accordingly.”
I think readers are a lot more willing to accept magical elements if they’re introduced early on. Otherwise, a reader might feel like the author has been disingenuous about the characters and their world. Plus, it’s more fun to see magical elements up front. Why hide them?
“Lay out the rules for magic and then stick to them. In EE, Ella is cursed with obedience. The rule is, she has to follow a direct order. The book maintains that rule throughout the book—every time Ella is given a direct order, no matter how ridiculous or dangerous, she must follow it. If the rule were to change halfway through the story (without explanation), the reader would balk. Like in playing a game, you can’t change the rules in the middle.”
Wildly important. No matter what kind of world you create, your world needs rules–even magical ones. Trying to change these rules in the middle of your book will just confuse your reader and, again, make them distrust you. A reader can accept even the wildest concept as long as it’s cohesive.
Make sure to check out the full list. How do you keep your magical worlds in order?