“He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite song. He can ride a pony backwards, he can flip pancakes in the air, he will be marvelously kind and his favorite shape will be a star. And he’ll have one green eye and one blue.”
“I thought you never wanted to fall in love.”
“That’s the point. The guy I dreamed up doesn’t exist. And if he doesn’t exist, I’ll never die of a broken heart.”
-excerpt from Practical Magic (1998)
Fantasy is virtually synonymous with magic, all the way from fireball wielding sorcerers to dragons to simple elemental manipulations. It is in our epic tales, slaying wicked villains, enabling bold heroes, creating social divides and protective wards alike. Given how varied in trait and definition “magic” can be, you’d be hard pressed to find a fantasy story that doesn’t touch on the mystical stuff, even if only to say that it used to be a prevalent force.
Writing magic is a lot like writing dragons – it tantalizes and entrances and stalwart fantasy readers love a good magically-enabled tale. And like writing dragons, it’s incredibly easy to mess up. Magic is not and should not be this… um, well… magical solution to everything that goes wrong in your plotline. It shouldn’t be an all powerful thing with no rules, no limitations and no price tags. It’s like everything else you write into your stories; it needs ground rules. They’re just ground rules you can write for yourself.
Consider these when you begin writing a magic-based story: