How logical does a fantasy system of magic have to be?

In worldbuilding for a new fantasy world that is thick with magic, I ask myself how much sense a fantasy system of magic has to make. And contemplate the nature of the human soul.

I’m worldbuilding for my new fantasy novel, and an important part of that is figuring out the universe’s system of magic. I’m trying something a bit different in this story, with a universe that’s less earth-like and more magical.

We’re talking isolated settlements floating over a void through which people must travel to move between them, venomous tree octopuses, and magical orbs exuded by a leviathan of the deep void. You want magic? It drips from every tree.

The problem is, it’s really hard to come up with a unified concept of magic that explains all the weird magic stuff in this universe. I know magic is allowed to be mysterious and, well, magical, but I’ve always preferred magic systems that have a certain logic to them, even if the logic includes a few leaps of possibility.

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Five ways to go overboard with worldbuilding for your fantasy novel

When you write a fantasy novel based in a non-Earth world, you get to make up everything. And with all that freedom comes the opportunity to go way overboard in your worldbuilding. If such is your wont, here are five ways you might do it.

Every fantasy reader loves a fully fleshed out world. They might see only a tiny fraction of it (they’d *better* see only a tiny fraction of it), but they can feel if it exists.

In a fully fleshed out world, the forests are greener and every carnivore knows what it’s hunting. The sky might be purple, but we have the physics to explain why. And you’ll always know which lord build the castle that saved your hero from demons, and how much it cost them.

So if your goal is to give your readers what they want, here are five ways to go overboard with your worldbuilding.

Of course, if you follow these instructions you may never get around to writing your story, but isn’t the price worth it?*

* In general, it’s not.

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Questions to ask when designing a magic system, part 1

If you want to design a magic system for a fantasy novel, these questions might help you. Or they might not. Either way, they’re free.

The title of this post might indicate this is going to be a writing advice post. It’s not! I promise.

A better title might be “The questions I found that I (tried to) answer in the recently-discovered document that explains the magic system in my current WIP”, but that’s a bit of a mouthful.

I almost definitely stole at least some of these questions from someone else’s writing advice blog post, but I’m afraid I did it so long ago I have no idea where I stole them from.

If they’re yours, I offer recompense in chocolate fish.

I’m not saying you must answer all or even any of these questions if you’re designing a magic system for a fantasy world. But if they’re helpful to you, you’re welcome.

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