1. Doctore
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    Doctore Member

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    Fantasy, Magic And All Kinds of Wonders

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Doctore, Mar 27, 2016.

    In one of my protects I'm currently working through is a fantasy story. It's a short story with all kinds of goodies in it for the reader. Now as I'm working through this I found something, I questioned and it begs to be answered. So here it is when it comes to magic what do you want to know? I've read several times here and even heard it personally from people that they didn't like reading long or very detailed descriptions. They hate it in fact and I look at describing magic as being detailed descriptions. So I'm curious to know how much does this matter? I think about it and I feel that I have to give them something, can't just say BAM! It's magic! So how much is enough for a short story? Should I give small details, the full bow, or nothing at all?

    Ask yourself, do you care where the magic came from? Who first used it? How it's used? The effects if any of over doing it? I could say FIRE! It's in the soul. Or WATER! It's from the chi and I feel like that's not enough. But then I wonder if people care how the building exploded or just that it did so and thus saved the town from the evil king mud troll super slug? There's not a ton that I plan to load into this story, but I think that if there is unneeded info I could just skip it and continue on with what is more important. I could summarize, that's been the plan so far but I wanted to get the opinion of readers in this instance.
     
  2. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    When it comes to fantasy magic and all kinds of wonders, my personal opinion is the more info the better, but only where it's needed. Like, maybe explain it in ways that doesn't come off as explanation. Work the origins of that magic into the plot.

    But then again, I'm a sucker for magic stories.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't stand it when books have long infodumps about the magic systems, but that doesn't mean I don't want to understand how the system works. Probably not the "who first used it" part, but most of the rest of the questions you mentioned.

    I think the key is that the information should be necessary for my understanding of the plot. If the plot of the story is somehow about the first user of the magic system, then, yeah, I'd want to know about that. But generally, the plot is about using the magic. I need to understand how the magic works so I can understand how the characters are using the magic in the story. I don't want a long lecture about it, I just want it explained to me, as concisely as possible, when I need to know it in order to understand the story.
     
  4. Davek74
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    Davek74 New Member

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    I think Brandon Sanderson is one of the best exponents of describing magic in his stories. He has an ability to really think outside the norms of magic use, metallurgy for instance, show it being used with no background in to its use and then builds context of it through the story, but never in large info dumps.
    Personally, I don't need to know the minute details of how magic works.
     
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  5. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say one of his rules is important here. The more proportional magic is to solving the plot, the more it needs to have rules. Otherwise it can seem like a get out of jail free card.
     
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  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I definitely would love an explanation. I hate "BAM, magic!" as you put it. The most important of making me take fantasy seriously is that it doesn't immediately look a little too much like a DnD or LOTR fanfic with all the tropes and magic just there. We need to do new things. I worry fantasy of the medieval legends kind is too unoriginal with lore. Impress me with your world that has original races and concepts. :p
    But, yes, you shouldn't do too much, and not all at once. Especially in a short story. Throw in a few key details and a work-through of them, but don't go as far as you would in a big long epic fantasy.
     
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  7. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I don't like when it feels like magic can do everything and it hasn't done everything. Like if magic can create food with no drawbacks, why are beggars still starving?

    With that said, I can go for broad, nonspecific magic systems if they feel like they make sense. El Goonish Shive, for instance, keeps to generalities like "magic can't reverse the flow of time" and "no known magic-user has revived tbe dead." That makes sense with the world it portrays where magic is a malleable, ever-present threat.
     
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  8. Doctore
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    Doctore Member

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    I pretty much share the same thoughts as the rest of you. I'm not a huge fan of magic in itself, it's the story that makes the magic work for me. But I realize that reading it and writing it is a very different thing. I had thought from the start of just going with the minimum. What is the minimum you ask? Well that's what this topic was for and what you've just described and thank you for that.
     
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