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12/07/2011

The Inmost Folds of Magic

It's a hard business, the writer's business. There's nothing better than those fun-filled days with splitting my head over the keyboard and whatnot. Not complaining, but it is as slowly coming along as it must feel like to give birth to a brick. I spent the last days trying to finish chapter 6 but I have yet to find a satisfying ending for it. I feel there is something great to be said, some sort of epiphany lurking around the corner.

Instead of pondering, I started to turn my story into a true "3D" adventure, drawing maps of the locations, furthermore outlining charts and a map of the world to give the story shape and depth, thinking about names, making up a cultural background for the places, the names and the persons. I really like the inventive aspect of it. 

So, as I sat there, thinking about different ways to portray "magic", why it is there, how it came to be, the whole shebang, a thought struck me. None of the fantasy stories I know actually explain magic. I mean, really explain how it works.

Magic Realism: Margaret Chiaro's Dandelion
Other than the superhero story genre, presenting a horrible genetic mutation during an experiment, thus making the Hulk green, angry and very very strong, magic in fantasy stories usually is a commonplace. Some people or creatures have it, others don't. Some are wizards, others aren't. End of story. Not literally, but as far as the fine print goes.


There are those stories that involve understated magical elements. 
The magic realism doesn't require any further assertion, in fact, explaining its bits and pieces would most definitely diminish its appeal.

J.-W. Waterhouse: The Crystal Ball
On the other end of the spectrum, there is good old Harry Potter. Offering some sort of genetic factor, creator in chief J.K. Rowling has been criticised for introducing a racist doctrine to her stories, affiliating magic to descent. I don't think it's that repellent, but it's not providing any background information either. 

What do other stories have to offer? The-studying-long-and-hard-to-becoming-a-wizard - type doesn't explain its genesis, neither does "pacting with the devil" like in Duane's So you want to be a wizard, because it ultimately leads to further questions regarding its origin.

Basically there is a choice between those three options on the how-to front. But concerning the origins of magic, I am curious to find out if they aren't explained sufficiently because they can't be explained within the realm of reason or because the genre itself requires them not to be explained. I am pretty much at odds with myself, wondering if I should give it a try or better let the sleeping lion sleep. Would it serve my story if I did? I honestly don't know.