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A Tale of Two Dystopias

I recently read these two series back to back. The first is Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.


In Darkest Minds, the US government inserted a chemical into the water system which gave children different powers as they approached adolescence, if they survived at all. Their solution was to put them in camps to "heal them." Parents were told it was a viral outbreak and, fearing their children would die, had to turn them over to be cured. Of course, the government had other plans. Each child developed a different power and were assigned a color at the prison camps: Greens were ultra smart. Blues were telekinetic. Reds were fire throwers. Yellows could emit electrical charges and affect electrical systems. Oranges could control minds.

Ruby (one of the few Oranges left alive) and her allies Chubs, Liam, and Zu attempt to avoid recapture to free the kids still being held in camps. They encounter various antagonists along the way with the overall goal of overthrowing the main antagonist, the corrupt president who weaponizes them instead of "curing" them.


Bracken's effective descriptions of kids forced into camps resonates with our daily news. It is a chilling reminder that once we accept any justification for imprisoning people, it can lead to further justifications for doing so.

She deftly captures teenagers forced to grow up before they should have to in a world where adults can't be trusted.



The second series, Insignia by S J Kincaid, dispenses with illusions of government and openly places the power where it really resides: with corporations who own the most resources and have the most money. Multinational corporations control the solar system and use taxpayer funded militaries to fight a proxy World War III in space.

Tom Raines is a scrawny fourteen-year-old outlier with high level virtual reality gaming skills. He is drawn into a government program where teenagers are implanted with neural enhancements that give them superior strength and senses and neural ports that allow them direct access to computers.

His contempt for authority and rules gives him an edge when fighting. But it also makes him the perfect weapon against the multinationals.

Kincaid does an excellent job of crafting realistic teenage interactions between Tom and his friends Wyatt, Vikram, and the opposition's best, code name "Medusa." They may be thrust into an adult situation, but they still read like teens. I think she did an excellent job of presenting a young man's point of view and voice.

With anxiety-provoking daily headlines, one might ask, "Why read dystopian fiction. Isn't it depressing?"

My answer is this: they give me hope that heroes will emerge and send the message that we can save ourselves if we have the will. I need to see the good guys win.


When I started my young adult series Mythikas Island back in 2008, I had the same message in mind: that the children are our future and they have the power to change it, no matter how badly the adults have corrupted it.


We need to invest in our young people instead of dismissing them. They are far stronger, more creative, and more impassioned than they get credit for. They can make a difference. It encourages me to see so many young activists, inventors, and business entrepreneurs making waves in our world today. I salute and stand with them.


Choosing Points of View

How many point of view characters should a story have? The answer is: how many do you need to do the job?

When you choose one POV, the verbal camera records the entire story through a single character's lens. The reader can, in essence, become the character. This creates a very intimate experience. Many readers enjoy it, others don't.

The difficulty is that the reader cannot know anything the character doesn't see, hear, overhear, intuit, or conjecture. Benefits of a single POV is just that: limiting what the reader knows. You can create a sense of claustrophobia or terror. You can utilize an unreliable narrator. The reader follows the clues along with the character, leading to twists and surprises.


Sometimes you need to shift the verbal camera between one or more characters so the reader is privy to information the main character is not. This can add to the suspense factor if handled well.

There are several ways to utilize multiple points of view.

One method is to pull the camera back to third person distant or omniscient point of view. The verbal camera is not connected to any one character, so it can zoom in and out anywhere at any time.  It can record the conversations, actions, and thoughts of any character. The key is to keep the reader aware of the camera's shifts.

Another method is to switch between several first-person accounts or third person point of view narrators.


Think of it like a relay race. Each member of the team should have a purpose and relate their portion of the the journey. There should be a good reason for them to participate. Whether it is different combatants, friends, foes, antagonists, or love interests, their scenes should count.

In a Con, Heist, and Prison Break you may wish to switch between participants whether it is members of a crew or friends and foes implementing a con. A single POV may not be enough to pull off the stunt.

In a Literary Drama, y
ou may shift between family members, friends, foes, or even try to gain empathy for the antagonist using his POV.

In a Mystery, the reader usually experiences the story along with the sleuth, but you may have more than one investigator. Some mystery writers like to show the antagonist's point of view in a few scenes and show the murderer killing the next victim.


In Thriller & Suspense tales you may want the reader to have information the main character does not. You can supply this by moving the verbal camera between characters, often at a remove in third person.

In a Historical or Western tale, you might shift the verbal camera between struggling townspeople. You can explore the different sides of a racial or ethnic divide. You may switch between your protagonist and other characters involved in subterfuge, love affairs, espionage, or intrigue. Using more than one POV or omniscient POV, allows the reader to traverse areas beyond the main character's domain.

In a Horror story, we a rarely experience the swamp monster's or ghost's point of view. But you might wish to move the verbal camera from victim to victim or explore the sadistic antagonist's rationale or the haunted location's backstory with verbal film clips

In a Team Victory, you may wish to include both coach and team member's POVs, perhaps even their competitors' behind the competition efforts to win.

In Romance, the reader normally sticks with the protagonist, but you can move the verbal camera to take in efforts by the love interest or the friends who support them (and have their own romantic interests) or foes who work behind the scenes to break them up. The caveat is to follow the expectations of the subgenre or imprint requirements.

In Fantasy and Science Fiction, it is common to move beyond the protagonist as the main battle encompasses different layers of conflict and multiple fields of battle. The antagonist is often a POV character as well as key allies on both sides of the central conflict. There can be multiple teams competing against one another. Secondary characters may have hidden motives and shifting loyalties. Focusing the camera on their efforts can illuminate or mask the reader's understanding of what is in play.


Like a relay's hand-offs, transitions between team members should be smooth. Avoid giving the reader whiplash by rapidly switching POVs within a scene. It is critical that the reader can tell which team member is holding the baton. Make sure you clarify each hand-off with transitions. It is a good idea to switch scenes when you switch points of view. Some writers using omniscient move within the scene, but they are also often guilty of head-hopping.

It is a cop out to throw POV characters in for a scene or two to avoid the hard work of presenting the information to the reader through your existing team members. It is like tapping a member of the audience to run a leg of the race.

Also avoid the urge to add a secondary POV character because you enjoy him and want to gift him with a moment in limelight. If he isn't part of the relay team, give him his own race in another story. Otherwise, the reader wastes time trying to figure out why that bit player was crucial and waits for him to return. Annoying detours take the tension out of the race.

Each team member should progress the story and add new information. Repetitive actions and information reveals are like watching replays. Unless reviewing the information twists it or sheds new light, it isn't necessary. That's not to say a group cannot meet up and share what they (and the reader) have learned. They can. But keep it short and simple.

It can help to list each player and jot down notes about their part in the relay. What actions do they take? What information do they discover? How does the character help or hinder the progress toward the overall story goal or specific conflict? How does his participation affect the speed and trajectory of the story?

At the end of the first draft, if you find a character's POV doesn't really add anything, either cut him or rewrite his part to give him a valid reason to participate.


All of the POV team members can meet up at the end for the celebration or be dismissed along the way, but don't forget to wave goodbye to them. Make sure the reader knows the character has exited the story and avoid "But what about Bob?" dangling threads.

Further Reading:

Understanding Scene Goals


Do You Need A B Story?

Stirring the Plot: Friends and Foes




Animated Book Covers

A new trend in marketing is to create an "animated" book cover for use on social media and other advertising venues. In essence, it is turning your cover image into a GIF (graphic interchange format).

You don't have to be a programmer to create a stunning moving photograph.


Here are a few examples:






To add these examples on Blogger, I used "insert image," then chose the URL option and entered the http address of the images.

Here is a list of resources you can use to create GIFS.


Giphy: Twitter shows the animation. Facebook links to the Giphy site and offers a "preview" but the GIF won't play.

Gifmaker: You can create and reduce the file size of a GIF

DP Animation Software

GIF maker Imgflip  Make GIFs from videos, pictures, or other images


Make A Gif

Further reading:

Derek Murphy How to Make An Animated Book Cover

How to Make a GIF

How to Create Animated GIFs on Photoshop


How to Add GIFs to Blogger

How to Make, Send, and Share GIFs on iPhone

Crafting Creatures: Angels and Demons

Demons are largely associated with the judeo-Christian concepts of heaven, hell, god, and the devil. Angels abide in heaven with god, demons exist and are at the beck and call of satan, who was himself a "fallen angel."

There are many different versions of the tales from the Bible to the comic book characters Lucifer and Constantine. They can include spirits, succubi, incubi, seraphim, and cherubim. They can be human-like or monsters. The battle between good and evil makes for high stakes fiction.

Here is a list of questions to consider when crafting your angels and demons.

1. Where did their powers originate? Have they been around since time began or was there a point of origin? Are they the children of Eve, Lilith, God, Satan, etc.? Is there more than one type of angel or demon?


2. What is your construct of the story world? Are you basing it on the Judeo-Christian demons and angels or other mythology such as ancient Babylon, Inuits, native American lore, Buddhism, Islam, or Zoroastrianism?

3. Is a demon born or formed? What happens when demons or angels and humans reproduce, if they can? Can demons and angels reproduce with each other?

4. Are angels and demons immortal? If so, at what point do they stop aging or how do they age? Are they always born and made as adults? Do they physically age?

5. Can angels or demons be killed? If so, how and what happens when they die? Can they be banished from the earthly realm by a spell or ritual such as exorcism?

6. Do they have vulnerabilities such as religious icons or objects?

7. Are there costs associated with their powers? Is their energy drained? Do they need to "recharge" by some method?

8. What can your angels and demons do?

Control the elements of fire, air, water, earth

Grow or wither people, plants, or nature
Move things with the mind, wave of the hand, or incantation
Transport/teleport things or people
Telepathy
Mind control
Move through time and space 
Kill, maim, or make others ill with their bite
Heal wounds, regenerate, or reanimate
Enhance senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch
Superhuman powers such as excessive strength, speed, agility, intelligence
Shape shift
Fly
Powers of seduction

9. Do they reside only in heaven or hell and visit or can they live in the human realm?

10. Are there objects or rituals that attract them, bind them, or exorcise them?

11. Can they consume human food? Do they need any form of nourishment?

12. What is their hierarchy? Who do they answer to or do they have some autonomy?

13. Are they representative of a specific religion that binds them to codes of behavior? Are they bound by loyalty or vows?

14. Who sees them? Everyone everywhere? Certain groups or places? Only certain sensitive people or targeted individuals?

15. Do they have paranormal allies or enemies?

16. What do they look like? Do they have a supernatural appearance that is hidden by magic, spells, or glamours?

17. Do they have pointed ears, wings, tails, birthmarks, skin lesions, or tattoos? Are they short or tall? Beautiful or hideous? 


18. Are their wings retractable or always out?  What do their wings look like? Can they shape shift at will or is something required for them to do so? Do they become animals?

19 Do they have specific clothing, robes, armor, weaponry, jewelry items, etc.? What happens to their clothes if they shape shift?

20. Can they summon food, clothing, shelter, and other aspects of human living at will to appear human?

21. Are they battling for the fate of humanity or more distant observers who are not supposed to interfere? 

22. Do they have specific tasks such as bringing the dead to heaven or hell or exacting reward or punishment on living humans?

23. What rules must they follow and what happens if they break them?

Further reading:

Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends

The Fantasy Skeleton

The Horror Skeleton

The Thriller and Suspense Skeleton


Demonology Wikipedia List

Demonology Jewish Encyclopedia

Deliriums Realm List of Demons

List of Angels and Fallen Angels

Hierarchy of Angels

You might also be interested in: 
Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Thriller & Suspense in print and ebook

Crafting Creatures: Fae

Fair folk are among the oldest of legends. In some lore, they are wise women skilled in the magic of the natural world. They have been associated with the elements of earth, fire, air, and water. In others they take the shape of winged sprites, elves, etc.

There are several well-known elements of fae tales: Shakespeare's Oberon, Queen Mab, and Tatania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the summer and winter courts, seelie and unseelie courts.

Little people, or fair folk, include: fairies, pixies, imps, goblins, elves, gnomes, brownies, elementals, and other mystical people. Faery is sometimes an alternative realm existing separate from the mortal world.


Here is a list of questions to consider when crafting your Fae world.

1. Where did their powers originate? Have they been around since time began or was there a point of origin? Are they the children of Eve, a demon, or other god? Is there more than one type?


2. What is your construct of the fairy world? Are you basing it on the summer and winter courts, the seelie and unseelie courts, an alternative realm, or a place on earth hidden from humans?

3. Are you basing your fae on a specific folklore? What are the elements you wish to include?

4. Is one born a fae or can a fae be made? What happens when fae and humans reproduce, if they can? Can fae species reproduce with each other?

4. Are the fae immortal? If so, at what point do they stop aging or how do they age? Do they need spells or potions to prevent physical aging?

5. Can the immortal fae be killed? If so, how and what happens when they die?

6. Do they have vulnerabilities such as iron?

7. Are there costs associated with their powers? Is their energy drained? Do they need to "recharge" by drinking nectar or feeding off the energy, emotions, or dreams of humans?

8. What can your fae do?

Control the elements of fire, air, water, earth

Grow or wither people, plants, or nature
Move things with the mind, wave of the hand, or incantation
Transport/teleport things or people
Telepathy
Mind control
Move through time and space 
Kill, maim, or make others ill with their bite
Heal wounds, regenerate, or reanimate
Enhance senses sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch
Superhuman powers such as excessive strength, speed, agility, intelligence
Shape shift
Fly
Powers of seduction

9. Do they reside only in Faery and visit or do they live in the human realm?

10. Are there objects that repel them or draw them in?

11. Are they reliant on food, nectar, or other nourishment to live?

12. Is there a hierarchy or controlling body such as a court, queen, king, etc.?

13. Do they have a religion or worship a god or demon?

14. If born a fae, especially in the human realm, do they live like normal human children and adolescents or are they sent to special schools or universities or have tutors?

15. Who knows about them? Everyone everywhere? Certain groups or places? Are they hiding in plain sight?

16. Do they have paranormal allies or enemies?

17. Are they an accepted part of society or must they hide in the shadows? Are they persecuted or the rulers? Have they infiltrated power positions?

18. What do they look like? Do they have a supernatural appearance that is hidden by spells or glamours? Do they have pointed ears, wings, tails, birthmarks, skin lesions, or tattoos? Are they short or tall? Beautiful or hideous? Are their wings retractable or always out?

19. Do they have specific clothing, ceremonial robes, jewelry items, etc.? What happens to their clothes if they shape shift?

20. Do they have familiars or control animals such as deer, birds, butterflies, or other animals?

21. Do they live and work like normal humans or do they have vast stores of wealth? If so, how did they come by it - magic or amassing human fortunes? Or can they simply summon everything at will including food, clothing, housing, etc.?

Next week, we look at crafting angels and demons.

Further reading:

Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends

The Fantasy Skeleton

The Horror Skeleton

The Thriller and Suspense Skeleton

Fairies

Celtic Fairies

Gods and Monsters: Fairy and The Fae

You might also be interested in: 
Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Thriller & Suspense in print and ebook



Crafting Creatures: Vampires

There have been many incarnations of vampire from the terrifying Nosferatu to sparkly high schoolers. Most societies have folklore related to vampires to draw from. Here is a list of questions to consider when crafting your vampires.

1. Where did their powers originate? Has vampirism been around since time began or was there a point of origin? Were they crafted by a paranormal entity such as a devil, demon, or god?


2. Are you basing your lore on a specific culture? If so, what are the specifications based on that lore? Are you modifying them?

3. Can anyone become a vampire? Is being a vampire passed on through genetics? Are vampires "made" by other vampires, if so, how? What are the rules, limitations, or consequences?

4. Are vampires immortal? If so, at what point do they stop aging or how do they age? Do they need spells or potions to prevent physical aging? Do they stop aging at the point they were turned?

5. Even if "immortal," can they be killed? Does it require a stake through the heart, decapitation, sunlight? If so, how and what happens when they die?

6. Can anything weaken them? Do they have vulnerabilities?

7. Are there costs associated with their powers? Is their energy drained? Do they need to "recharge" by drinking blood or some other method, or do they have an endless supply of power?

8. What can your vampires do?

Control the elements of fire, air, water, earth

Grow or wither people, plants, or nature
Move things with the mind, wave of the hand, or incantation
Transport/teleport things or people
Telepathy
Mind control
Move through time and space 
Kill, maim, or make others ill with their bite
Heal wounds, regenerate, or reanimate
Enhance senses sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch
Superhuman powers such as excessive strength, speed, agility, intelligence
Shape shift
Fly
Powers of seduction

9. Do they sleep in coffins? Do they live in normal homes or have special living quarters? Is there any item their home must have such as dirt from a grave site, relics, etc.?

10. Are they sensitive to sunlight?

11. Can their reflection or image be seen in photos, mirrors, or other reflective surfaces?

12. Are there objects that repel them such as crosses, holy icons, magical objects, silver, iron, garlic, etc. ?

13. Are they reliant on blood to live: human, animal, or blood banks?

14. Is there a hierarchy or controlling body such as a tribunal, coven, chosen leaders, etc.?

15. Do they have a religion or worship a god or demon?

16. If born a vampire, do they live like normal human children and adolescents or are they sent to special schools or universities or taught by tutors? If a person is made a vampire, are they suddenly smarter, prettier, etc. or limited to what they knew in life?

17. Who knows about them? Everyone everywhere? Certain groups or places? Are they hiding in plain sight?

18. Do they have paranormal allies or enemies?

19. Are they an accepted part of society or must they hide in the shadows? Are they persecuted or the rulers? Have they infiltrated power positions?

20. What do they look like? Do they have a supernatural appearance that is hidden by spells or glamours?

21. Do they have special marks such as horns, tails, wings, birthmarks, skin lesions, or tattoos?

22. Do they have specific clothing, ceremonial robes, jewelry items, etc.? What happens to their clothes if they shape shift?

23. Do they have familiars such as bats, owls, or other animals?

24. Do they live and work like normal humans or do they have vast stores of wealth? If so, how did they come by it: magic or amassing human fortunes? Or can they simply summon everything at will including food, clothing, housing, etc.?

Next week, we look at crafting fae.

Further reading:

Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends

The Fantasy Skeleton

The Horror Skeleton

The Thriller and Suspense Skeleton

List of Vampire Traits in Folklore and Fiction

You might also be interested in: 

Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Thriller & Suspense in print and ebook



Crafting Creatures: Witches

A wide range of stories involve witches with unique traits and talents. Here is a list of questions to consider when designing your spell casters.

1. Where did their powers originate? Has witchcraft been around since time began or was there a point of origin? 


2. Were they born with powers, gain powers at a specific age, or did an individual make a deal with a paranormal entity such as a devil, demon, or god?

3. Can anyone gain magical power? Are powers passed on through genetics, rituals, or other physical or mystical means? 

4. Who can wield magical power, only certain individuals or is it accessible to anyone with the right knowledge or objects? What prevents other people from gaining magical powers?

5 . Once gained, can anything weaken or remove their powers? Do they have vulnerabilities?

6. Are witches granted immortality? If so, at what point do they stop aging or how do they age? Do they need spells or potions to prevent physical aging?

7. Can they be killed, even if they are granted immortality? If so, how and what happens when they die?

8. Are there costs associated with their power? Is their energy drained? Do they need to "recharge" or do they have an endless supply of magic? Does anything make them stronger?

9. Does using magic cause harm if used for personal gain? If white magic, what happens if they use it for nefarious reasons?

10. Is the magic available at will, channeled through specific objects, or energy drawn upon by spells, incantations, rituals, ley lines, etc. ?

11. What can individuals do with their magic and what are the logistics?

Control the elements of fire, air, water, earth

Grow or wither people, plants, or nature
Move things with the mind, wave of the hand, or incantation
Transport/teleport things or people
Telepathy
Mind control
Move through time and space 
Kill, maim, or make others ill
Heal wounds, regenerate, or reanimate
Enhance senses sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch
Fly with or without brooms
Superhuman powers such as excessive strength, speed, agility, intelligence
Shape shift

12. Do they make potions? Is there danger associated with them?

13. Do they summon the power from a paranormal entity such as a demon or god/goddess?

14. Is there a hierarchy or controlling body such as a tribunal, coven, church, chosen leaders, etc.?

15. Do they have ancient texts, spellbooks, or grimoires? Interpret omens or magical objects like ouija boards, runes, bones, or sigils?

16. Do they have schools or universities? How are magical spells, potions, legend, lore, history, etc. taught or does the knowledge come instantly with magical powers?

17. Who knows about them? Everyone everywhere? Certain groups or places? Are they hiding in plain sight?

18. Do they have paranormal allies or enemies?

19. Are they an accepted part of society or must they hide in the shadows? Are they persecuted or the rulers?

20. What do they look like? Do they have a natural appearance that is hidden by spells or glamours? 

21. Do they have special marks such as birthmarks, skin lesions, or tattoos?

22. Do they have specific clothing, ceremonial robes, jewelry items, wands, crystal balls, brooms, magical objects, etc.?

23. Do they have familiars such as cats or other animals?

24. Do they work like normal humans or do they have vast stores of wealth? If so, how did they come by it - magic or amassing human fortunes? Or can they simply summon everything at will including food, clothing, housing, etc.?

25. How do they live, like normal humans or do they have special homes or specific locations? Are their abodes visible or hidden with protections, wards, etc.? Can anyone approach or enter their home?

Next week, we look at crafting vampires.

Further reading:

Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends

The Fantasy Skeleton

The Horror Skeleton

The Thriller and Suspense Skeleton

You might also be interested in:
Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook

Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Thriller & Suspense in print and ebook.


Crafting Creatures: Ghosts

Ghosts feature in many Paranormal Fantasy and Horror stories. When crafting your ghosts, here is list of questions to consider.

1. What creates a ghost? Is it a tragic event, an unsolved mystery, or a human tethering them to the mortal realm? Are they demonic or manifestations of someone's mind or guilty conscience?


2. When, where, and how did they die?

3. Do they know they are dead?

4. Can they possess a mortal human, animal, or object?

5. Are ghosts free-roaming or tethered to a specific place or object? Can they operate or use their power or influence in any location, no matter how far?

6. Can they move around the building, town, or wider locations? Can they move through solid structures?

7. Are they invisible, opaque, or fully corporeal? How do they manifest?


8. What do they look like? Do they resemble the person as they last appeared in life or as they appeared in death or in their coffin? Are they trapped in a specific outfit? Can they shift appearance?


9. Are they always present or triggered by specific people, dates, or events? 


10. Why are they present at that place and time? 

11. Can they be summoned by ritual, spell, ouija board, or presence of a specific person?

12. Are they telekenetic or can they physically impact their surroundings?


13. Are they telepathic or can they control other people's minds? Can they cause hallucinations?


14. What other types of powers do they possess, if any?

15. What are their vulnerabilities and how are they vanquished?


16. Where do they go when banished?


17. Can anyone or everyone see, feel, hear, sense  and/or communicate with them?

18. Are they well-meaning or evil? Does it depend on who interacts with them?

19. Do they have a goal or purpose other than to terrorize?

20. Is there a moral to their story,  a secret to expose, story or message they need to share?

You can design ghosts any way you want. Just keep the world rules consistent.

Next week, we look at crafting Witches.


Further reading:

Horror Writers Association


Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends


The Fantasy Skeleton


The Horror Skeleton

The Thriller and Suspense Skeleton

You might also be interested in:
Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook,
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Thriller & Suspense in print and ebook

Crafting Rules of Magic

Magic and magical powers fuel many Paranormal and Fantasy tales. The best stories have logical cause and effect. When worldbuilding, here is a list of questions to consider.

1. Where did magic originate? Has it been around since time began or was there a point of origin? Was it a natural occurrence such as a meteor strike, sun flare, etc.? Perhaps a deal with a paranormal entity such as a devil, demon, or god? Is it a genetic mutation or gained through exposure to a toxic element such as radiation or alien artifact? 

2. Is the magic possessed by individuals to wield at will, channeled through specific objects, or energy drawn upon by spells, incantations, or rituals?

3. Who can wield magical power, only certain individuals or is it accessible to anyone with the right knowledge or objects? What prevents other people from gaining magical powers?

4. Is the power passed down through generations via genetics, reproduction with magical beings, transferred between individuals in some manner, gained by ritual, or inherited by other physical or mystical means?

5. Is there a hierarchy or controlling body such as a tribunal, coven, chosen leaders, etc.?

6. What can individuals with magic do and how does it work?

Control the elements of fire, air, water, earth
Grow or wither people, plants, or nature
Move things with the mind, wave of the hand, or incantation
Transport/teleport things or people
Telepathy
Mind control
Move through time and space 
Interpret omens or magical objects like ouija boards, runes, bones, sigils
Kill, maim, or make others ill
Heal wounds, regenerate, or reanimate
Enhance senses sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch
Provide superhuman powers such as excessive strength, speed, agility, intelligence

7. What are the limitations or rules of use?

8. Do magic beings have a weakness or vulnerability?

9. What is the physical, mental, or spiritual cost of using magic to the individual, group, or world at large?

10. What types of magical characters exist in your story world?

11. Who knows about them? Everyone everywhere? Certain groups or places? Are they hiding in plain sight? Be careful about pushing the boundaries of credibility. Think about your setting. How easy would it be to keep things a secret?

In the upcoming weeks we will look at crafting specific creatures.

Further reading:

Worldbuilding: Myths and Legends


The Fantasy Skeleton


The Horror Skeleton

You might also be interested in:
Story Building Blocks Build A World Workbook in print and ebook,
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Fantasy in print and ebook
Story Building Blocks Build A Plot Workbook Horror in print and ebook