So you have this great idea for a story, and you want to tell it to the world. You sit at the keyboard and start pounding away, and the story just flows from your fingers. You are sailing; the story is flowing; and then suddenly you realize that Bart the Mage seems to have unlimited magic ability. Well, that’s no good, because now there is no tension; no great ordeal for Bart to overcome. Bart can do anything -game over – end of story.
Now, you realize that you must create the ‘rules of magic’. Each world should be unique, and so we need to tailor the magic to fit each unique situation.
Take Bart – our lowly journeyman mage. For a multitude of reasons he has decided that he must rid the world of Evil Badguy; a very powerful, very naughty wizard. Evil Badguy is very strong, and has great magic – but there are rules and he so he is not omnipotent. He has a weakness and your protagonists now have the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential in process of finding and exploiting that weakness.
Now let’s say that Bart is a mage with offensive magic – maybe he can cast lightning at an enemy, or perhaps he can set fires with his magic. Can he also use magic to heal people? Can he heal himself? What are the rules governing these abilities and how do these rules affect the progress of the story? When it comes to magic, limitations open up many possibilities for plot development.
Lets say that Bart can only reliably use one sort of magic. This is good, because now you have need for other several characters with other abilities. They each have a story which will come out and which will contribute to the advancement of the plot. Each character will have limits to their abilities and because of that they will need to interact and work with each other and with Bart whether they like each other or not if they want to win the final battle aganst Evil Badguy. This gives you ample opportunity to introduce tension into the story. Each time you make parameters and frameworks for your magic you make opportunities for conflict within your fantasy world, and conflict is what drives the plot.
What challenge does Bart have to overcome in order to win the day? Is he unable to fully use his own abilities? If that is so, why is he hampered in that way? How does that inability affect his companions and how do they feel about it? Are they hampered in anyway themselves? What has to happen before Bart can fully realize his abilities? Without rules, there would be no conflict, no reason for Bart to struggle and no story to tell.
Alison Deluca’s blog is an excellent resource for those who are writing for the YA reader. Today she is talking about http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com/2011/04/harry-potter-and-digital-age.html . She has a lot to offer on the subject of Harry Potter and e-pubbing!
Along with my personal reality of living and writing in small town America, there is the ongoing tragedy for the people of Japan, and the living nightmare that daily affects their lives. Continuing earthquakes, nuclear disaster; these things have decimated Japan’s ecology and its economy. Uncounted numbers of people have been displaced and thousands are dead. If you have the desire to donate to any of the many wonderful organizations that are on the ground in Japan and in the other devastated parts of this world here are the links to their very wonderful websites where you can make your donations and be assured that the funds go to the people as you have intended.
These organizations will take them food, and help them to rebuild their lives. We can’t bring back their loved ones, or take away the horror of what they are living through but we can mitigate it in some way, and I urge you to consider making a donation to one of these fine charities. This is the real world, and it is no fantasy for those who must live it.
The American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/ is out there fighting the good fight.
Also Catholic Relief Services http://crs.org/ is on ground zero helping anyone that they can.
Samaritan’s Purse is highly recommended to me as a world class charity. http://speu01.samaritanspurse.org/t/219286/1732115/23/0/
However, my personal favorite of all these charities is World Vision http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/ibeCZzdMinisites.jsp
God bless all these people and the people they work so tirelessly to help.