Finding the Magic

As I’ve mentioned more than once around here, I was one of those kids who absolutely believed in magic. I knew what kind of world I lived in, of course – I wasn’t completely delusional, and I certainly knew better than to admit such feelings to teachers and classmates at school. That was a sure way to get myself shoved into a janitor’s trashcan during first lunch. But I couldn’t help thinking if I stood still long enough and believed hard enough, the fairies would show themselves. Maybe even take me under the mountain to dance until dawn.

Now that I’m all grown up, I recognize that the magic does indeed exist. It’s not really unicorns and fairies (although who knows? They may still be waiting for me to find them.) The magic of our real world is all around us, and you only have to watch for it. For […]

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When Magic Is The Problem

Growing up, I watched Samantha Stevens on ‘Bewitched” or Jeannie on “I Dream of Jeannie” wiggle a nose or nod a head and have everything put right. Mary Poppins could clean up an entire house at superspeed. Harry Potter (or at least Hermione) could twitch a wand and do rather amazing things (although apparently, not homework). In the “mundane” world, we often think magic would be a pretty slick solution.

But in the worlds I write about, magic is more likely to be the problem.

In Ice Forged, the first book in my Ascendant Kingdoms series battle mages make a doomsday strike intending to knock out the opposing side’s nobility. Instead, they destroy the bonds that have permitted them to harness magic. Magic returns to its wild, elemental state, and a Cataclysm of fire storms and hardship ensues. It still isn’t all sorted out by book 3, War of Shadows.


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Magic Systems: A Guest Post From Joshua Palmatier, AKA Benjamin Tate

Today we welcome back to MW Joshua Palmatier, who also writes as Benjamin Tate. Joshua/Benjamin is a fantasy writer with DAW Books, with two series on the shelf and a few short stories, and is co-editor with Patricia Bray of two anthologies. As Joshua, he has written the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy—The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne. Now, as Benjamin Tate, he has written Well of Sorrows and has just released Leaves of Flame. He has short stories in several anthologies and has co-edited After Hours: Tales from the Ur-bar and (soon-to-be-released) The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity (March 2012). Find out more about his work at and Please join me in welcoming Joshua to MW. [Wild applause]


Magic. It’s the heart of every fantasy, in some way or another, and if it’s removed from a true fantasy novel, the novel should […]

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Magical Items

Last week we talked about how no two writers will come up with the exact same story, even given the identical prompt. I was thrilled at everyone’s ideas, and even more tickled that with all the great ideas, not one person copied another, nor did any of you go in the direction I had in mind myself. When you worry that some other writer has already written your wonderful idea, remember what we did last week, and keep charging ahead with your story. Today we’re going to talk about the magic of objects.

Not long ago I posted about boxes, and the fascination I have for them. But it’s not just boxes that end up catching my eye. All sorts of objects have a strange way of getting my attention, almost as if they have a magic of their own. Many years ago, there was a store here in town […]

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Writing — Magic Systems as Characters

Magic systems are essential to fantasy writing. Without some magic element — whether it is magic wielded by people or magical/supernatural beings or magical objects or what-have-you — you really aren’t writing fantasy. Magic is what sets the genre apart. Therefore, having a solid system of rules for how magic behaves is crucial to building a strong foundation for your tale. What many writers fail to grasp, however, (and something I’ve only just begun to understand) is that the best magic systems become a character themselves.


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Writing THE END. Be BOLD!

I’ve been working with some writers who have become friends. It’s really cool to have writers in my life: people who know the business and have been publishing books for years, people who are just getting into the professional side of the business, people who hope to get there some day. They all enrich my life so much. And a big part of that is when they ask questions that make me think. One friend asked such a question last week, and though we have covered the topic of her question before, she asked it in such a way that it put a whole new slant on it for me.

From Mindy:

I have a writing question for you (I can just see your ears perk up…) Last three chapters. See the end. Know it. Don’t want to write it. Partly because battle scenes hurt to […]

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How Can I get Published? Right Now! (Confessions of the Unkind)

I’ve worked with a number of writers over the years, and all have been desperately eager to get into print, and the younger they were, the more desperate they were. The very youngest believed they were ready—“right now, right this minute”—to be published. Hearing that they were not ready, or that their writing needed a lot of work, or that they might be ready some day, if they took some classes and gained some life experience, was often devastating to them, no matter how kindly the delivery of the words. Some refused to believe it. Some got mad and stomped off. Some have told me I was, “…wrong, just wrong. You just don’t understand.” Which proved my point, though how could I say that? I couldn’t.

There was a comment / question this week, here at MW, from one such young writer. Recently, I got a private email from another. […]

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