Okay, I cannot TELL you how excited I am to get to share a little bit from one of my newest favorite authors, my friend Lexi, ehrm, I mean author A.M. Deese.
You may remember her from her author interview or my GLOWING REVIEW of her book, and now she’s back again telling us some of her favorite bits of writing fantasy. Just reading this made me want to ditch everything responsible and craft some BEAUTIFUL lies for my readers.
But, life happens and I had to get this article up onto my blog instead. So, here I sit getting ready to share how to craft believable lies for readers instead of just crafting them.
I adore my writing community and feel so blessed that the likes of Lexi are in my circle of influence and inspiration. Enjoy this article and I dare you to resist the urge to go and write something after!
Writing Fantasy: Crafting Believable Lies for Your Readers
I don’t know about you but I’m obsessed with the fantasy genre. I love exploring new worlds and as a writer, actually building them is more fulfilling than I could ever imagine. I think good fantasy is steeped in the reality that makes it believable. You might be thinking: but isn’t the fun part about fantasy the fact that there are no rules?!
That’s not exactly true. Yes, fantasy succeeds in that it takes us on adventures to unimaginable worlds. But the suspension of belief only comes from earning the reader’s trust. If the reader’s trust is broken then the story begins to unravel and all that time spent crafting the perfect world or a believable magic system was all for nothing. What if at the big finale of the Twilight Series, Bella is rescued by a giant robot. Not an impossible situation in a world with sparkly vampires, but because there was no set-up for such a strange rescue this ending would have been a huge disappointment for fans. However, when Harry Potter pulls the sword out of the Sorting Hat at the end of the Philosopher’s Stone, readers can cheer along at the unexpected twist. Even though Rowling introduced a never-before-seen magic her preexisting rules of her world made it easy for readers to accept her ending.
So then, what are these rules I keep talking about? Firstly, the author must create a believable magic system. Unfortunately, that means research. Where does magic come from? Are the characters born with it? If so, when does it manifest? Can it be taken away? Can magic be taught? If so, who teaches it? Are there different sorts of magic? How many? Is the magic used in everyday life? Are there jobs for those with magic? Does everyone have magic and if not how does everyone feel about that? How does magic affect religion?
As you can see, the list of questions can go on for quite some time. Now the readers don’t need to know all this information at once ( if ever) but it’s imperative that you, the author, understand the rules of the magic you’ve created.
Once you get a basic gist of the rules surrounding your magic system you have to remain consistent. Did you decide that the cost of magic was removing a body part every time a spell was cast? Then you can’t get skittish when your character no longer has any fingers or toes! Consistency is key.
Aside from a believable magic system comes the proper frame for it to be set in. In my debut novel, Ignited, the majority of the magic users have the ability to manipulate fire or heat. Since we are in a desert setting, the magic affects the architecture in that the magical fire users manipulated the surrounding sand into their glass city. The magical fire users are also the primary source of entertainment for the wealthy and they are forced to use their fire powers to battle dragons. Notice how the magic system is intrinsically woven into world building.
Basically, I’m not trying to take away the fun of creating delicious lies for your readers. Your readers want them! But if you’re hoping to craft a world that allows your readers to escape you’ll have to do some careful research first.
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