One of the biggest challenges of magical realism as a genre is making magic seem real in the real world backdrop. The fantasy genre allows us to build a magical world with different rules, but magical realism adds magic to the real world and the overall effect should feel realistic.
In my latest novel, the protagonist has magical abilities that allow her to influence the natural elements among other things. It was really fun adding in magical elements to a contemporary fiction novel, but also very challenging because the magic that defies reality had to seem plausible.
Before I started writing in the magical elements, I created rules for the magic in terms of how it would appears and what the limitations were. For example, the protagonist is able to influence the weather, so the weather almost became another character in the novel. At first, the weather impacts were simply part of the description of the scene until the reader realizes that those descriptions were a deeper part of something directly associated with the character.
Because I selected the first-person point of view for the novel, the first plan I had for dealing with magic in the contemporary real world was to unveil it to the protagonist slowly, where the magic first appears and feels like a coincidence.
Rolling out the magic slowly in that fashion was one of the methods I used in the novel to make it feel more real world. Another method was to add in fictional myths that seemed to explain the origin of the magical elements and almost explain them that way. Introducing both the myths and the “coincidences” helped me create a way of introducing magic to the fictional real world.
At the end of the day, creating a magical world in fiction can be easier than introducing magical elements into a realistic view of the real world. That said, while magical realism can be very challenging, I really enjoyed the challenge and I hope that the readers feel transported into an escapist read.