So, you’ve decided you wanted to give fantasy a try, the realm of magic, mythic creatures and crazy adventures that have inspired pop culture and humanity, but where to start can prove to be quite overwhelming, even perilous. A good start may influence your love for this genre, but a bad one will make you shun it forever. Then, where do you begin? This is a tricky question even for me, someone whose entire life has been influenced and shaped by fantasy art forms. In these posts, I shall give my best to guide you into this world and prove to you its beauty. I’ll present a few theories which will serve as a base for our exploration and in doing so I’ll give you some recommendations (mostly books or movies), but it’s important to remember that none of the ideologies or the theories belong to me. From time to time, I will give my opinion, but mostly , I’ll remain objective in presenting other people’s works.
Ok, this introduction is long enough and you’re bored out of your mind just hearing about theory. Unfortunately, I will disappoint you by talking about laws in this post, more exactly Brandon Sanderson’s 3 laws of magic, inspired by Isaac Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics. Brandon Sanderson is a famous American fantasy and science fiction writer who, besides publishing many amazing books, has also developed a system for magic in fiction. Personally, in reading his theories, I viewed fantasy in a more structured way and I acknowledged the hard work authors put in. Now that you’ve met our star, let’s get to the laws.
‘’An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.’’
‘’The limitations of a magic system are more interesting than its capabilities. What the magic can’t do is more interesting than what it can do.’’
Again, not too complicated. The more rules you put into the magic of a fantasy story, the harder it will be for the protagonist to escape conflict, making his/her choices crucial and wittier. This doesn’t mean fantasy with few rules should be disregarded. Most children’s stories and early fantasy books have magical elements that run free and its rules aren’t fully understood, bringing the sense of wonder. Even so, weakness is a very interesting concept and challenge for the characters. It lets them grow and readers are more probable to become invested in following their learning process and experiencing the cost of ignorance.
‘’Expand on what you have already before you add something new.’’
‘’A brilliant magic system for a book is less often one with a thousand different powers and abilities – and is more often a magic system with relatively few powers that the author has considered in depth.’’
Most memorable stories have vivid locations, characters, or feelings connected to them, that’s because the author allowed you to spend that time exploring the world and its inhabitants, instead of showing a space and then hopping into the next. The same goes for magic, it needs time to be understood and appreciated.The more you explore one aspect of it, the more you’re able to view it fromdifferent perspectives, thus transforming the magic into reality for thereader. It’s now impossible saying ‘’Wingardium Leviosa’’ without imagining swishing a wand in a certain way and pronouncing the spell with a definiteaccent, that’s because J.K. Rowling taught it to us as much as she did forHarry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of Hogwarts students.
Now you know the laws, but remember you can make your own. Fantasy allows imagination to flow and to create with no specific limits. These are simple guidelines that improve someone’s storytelling, strategies for a more diverse and complex world.
Next, we shall discuss 2 types of magic systems: hard magic and soft magic; what they mean, a few examples and then finally some long-awaited recommendations.
Until then, remember: magic lays at your fingertips.