Two Things to Resolve Before Writing Magic

I’ve been writing in Magical Realism for a while now and I’ve picked up on a few tips that are key to sort out before adding a little magic to your novel. I hope these help if you are considering adding in a little magic in your work in progress. 🙂

  1. Determine the rules of magic – Like any other plot feature, magic needs rules to operate in so that it makes sense in the world being created. For example, things to figure out before you start typing are the details like who can use magic and for what? What are the limits to the magic? What is the source of the magic? How does the character learn about their capabilities and what mistakes do they make getting used to it? What are the consequences of using magic? Are there different kinds of magic in the world being created? If so, how is it different and by what rules?
  2. Introduce magic slowly – Building a new world that includes magic is a bit more realistic when it’s introduced somewhat slowly. In my novel, The Magic of Cape Disappointment, the protagonist has an ability to influence the weather, however one that she’s unwitting of for several chapters. In these chapters, the weather events around her become more extreme but there is no reference to her thinking that it’s anything but bad luck or a freak storm. Magic introduced slowly also helps with rolling out the rules of the world that the characters live in. Further, this type of approach also helps the writer move the story along without having to explain all the rules of magic in this new world all in the first chapter, letting the reader sort of slowly step into this other world and learn the rules themselves in pace with the characters.

Adding in a little magic to a story takes a lot of prep time, actually, for the magical world created to feel ‘real.’ The author must know all the rules of magic of this new world before starting out the story development, otherwise magical situations added to the novel can feel more like a convenient story prop and not an integral thread of the story.

Best of luck to you! Magical realism is such a fun genre and worth the effort.