Magic Rules in Your Fantasy World

I’m not one for strict rules so while watching fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube lecture “Magic System”, I kept thinking, The magic in my novels doesn’t have rules.

However, afterwards I considered the ideas he presented and once I broke through the dam, the rules flowed swiftly. The magic within the realm of Ath-o’Lea does have rules. Some are soft, others firm.

Sanderson imparts this sage advice: Flaws are more interesting than powers. Things your characters can’t do are more interesting than what they can do. Flaws and limitations of magic are interesting.

With that in mind, I considered the powers and the limitations used in my novels.

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How to write a killer book description to attract readers

Lessons in Self-publishingDuring my Sunday morning reading, I came upon a podcast by Libbie Hawker posted by Johnny Walker at Author Alliance. Hawker spoke about writing book descriptions.

I loved the way Hawker broke down the process into five easy questions. I recall a similar discussion on promoting books last year by someone else. It’s so simple anyone can do it.

At the moment, I’m writing, revising, tweaking, second-guessing and editing the book description for my next novel, Scattered Stones. It’s an epic fantasy story, so I have to have an epic description.

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My Library of Books for Writing Fantasy

5x5 fantasy bookA short time ago, Ernesto San Giacomo posted his 2015 Reading List. In the list was Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall.

I commented, saying I had several books about magic, herbs and stones to help me with writing my fantasy stories, but I hadn’t read that one. A list was requested, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until tonight.

Some of these books are one-time reads, but others I keep on the shelf as references. I can’t remember all the properties of stones and herbs, and I can’t recall all the spells (though I make up a lot myself), so these are keepers for me.

Natural Magic – Spells, Enchantments & Self-development by Pamela J. Ball: This book provides insight to magic and how a sorceress might work her spells. Not every magic-user is the same, so you can take a little of this and a little of that to create a character. This book was okay, worth buying, but not my favourite.

The back cover states: Before there was formal religion there was magic, and to this day there are people who purport to perform ‘miracles’ with the aid of magical powers derived from nature or the spirit realm. These powers are still out there to be tapped into by us. All you need is the knowledge and know-how contained in Natural Magic.

This book reveals: How to become a natural magician, using knowledge gathered over thousands of years by magician and mystic alike. Techniques employing plants, trees, crystals and incense along with meditation, ritual, chanting and dreams. The tools to give expression to your creativity and beliefs. A wide range of methods to bring about positive changes in your life.

The Druid Magic Handbook – Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer: This book speaks of Life Force, the alphabet of magic, the elements, enchantment and Ogham writing. It gives a great history on the druids, which I thoroughly enjoyed and ‘connected’ with. I discovered many potential story lines by reading it.

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It’s All About Fantastic Locations

Since I was a wee lass I’ve hunted for the perfect location for a fantasy novel to take place. Oft times, my camera sat only a stretch away, so if the magic of the scenery moved me, I could attempt to capture it on film. This was more difficult to do than one can imagine.

I’ve found many pockets of wonderful locations throughout Atlantic Canada and on my travels. The pictures I’ve gathered easily show the location, but when it comes to revealing their beauty through words in a novel without pictures, at times they’re tough to describe. That’s when you need landscape lingo.

Writing fantasy requires me to learn landscape lingo, the basic names for the structure of the land. After all, who wants to travel through a bland forest all the time when the countryside, glen and meadow are free for the taking?

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The Powers of Liam’s Spinel

The translucent lustre of spinel cast the spell of loyalty and calmness. Wearers of the stone are shown the path to peaceful meditation and self-healing. When separated from loved ones, the power of the stone reduces anxiety and aides in coping with the separation. Spinel protects from troublesome influences and helps one find their way.

Isla gives her best friend Liam a handmade necklace containing a blue spinel in my fantasy novel Shadows in the Stone. She chose the gem carefully, sensing he’d one day need a resilient inner strength to help him survive and remain loyal to her. He’d also need extensive healing from the horrendous path I’ve plotted for him and positive encouragements to combat the negative influences in his life.

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Forget the Shoes; Climb into their Pants

You’ve heard the old expression, To really know someone, you must walk in their shoes.

This expression reminds us to not judge people before we get to know them and to not assume we know what they’re thinking and feeling. This expression holds true for the people in our life as well as the characters in our stories.

Writing about someone without knowing them first makes them flat, uninteresting and possible unreliable. When I begin a new story with new characters, I often stumble my way along, wondering if my character will go this way or that. If they are faced with a challenge, what will they do? Turn and run? Or stand and fight?

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Witchcraft in Grade 7

I began this year by looking back, way back. On my hunt to find a western novel I had written in my early 20s, I found my old Reflections Duotang from grade ten and a project I had written on witchcraft in grade 7 (1979-1980). In the coming months, I’ll share my old reflections on the blog, but today, I wish to share my project (complete with footnotes and bibliography): Witchcraft. This is word for word, just as I had written it when I was twelve years old in my first year in junior high. My mark was 18/20.

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