1. Rebecca54

    Rebecca54 New Member

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    Fantasy and Modern Combining Issues

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Rebecca54, Jul 21, 2018.

    I am wanting to outline and then write my first ever novel, bringing fantasy/magic into a modern/21st century time period. I also want to set it at a magical university, following students (probably putting it in the YA/NA age ranges). However, I've been planning for a few days and am not happy with what I've got so far. I'm stuck on combining the fantasy and modern elements and justifying why the world uses magic over technology (or vice versa) is difficult.
    What I'm asking is:
    1) Should I focus on developing my world more before I develop my plot?
    2) How do I balance the use of magic and technology? Do you have any ideas for what technology/magic would be used for and why over the other? Should I just decide to do a fantasy story set in a less technological setting?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Have you read other modern fantasy novels that might give you ideas of what's already been done? Not to copy, necessarily, and not to avoid, necessarily, just... to be aware? I often get good ideas while reading other people's works, and I don't think the ideas I have are either derivative or revolutionary... they're just a sort of exploration. Like, for example, I might read Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews and love the idea of waves of magic that ebb and flow, so that magic is sometimes powerful, but sometimes technology takes over. I could take that general idea and change it so each individual person has their own magical cycle, and can therefore only effectively use magic at certain times (of the month?). Whatever.

    Reading widely in your genre will probably give you more ideas than you know what to do with.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
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  3. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Try the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. Even if you don't read the whole series, it's a fun take on magic in the modern world. First book is Storm Front.
    Others:
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman
    Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
    Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
    The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

    and many more.
     
  4. S M Tolley

    S M Tolley New Member

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    First I would like to say, (or ask I suppose) is what type of magic system you are using. Does magic come from within a person? Or does it exist as a type of natural energy that can be manipulated (I personally call the latter a "Field Based Magic System"). The limits and mechanics of whatever system you choose, are yours to set as you wish (naturally).

    As for why your society uses magic over technology, I personally view as a redundant question, due to my particular take on what magic is. Some see magic as the unexplainable, but if that were true surely noone would understand how to use it. I've always believed magic is science that is merely yet to be explained, and with that point of view, magic itself merely becomes another form technology.

    I will also add, that technology can develop differently. For example, the fallout universe doesn't have microchips, but they do have magnetic tape. Whilst this is pure speculation on my part, I would wager that the magnetic tape in the fallout world, is in fact far more advanced than the magnetic tape that we would think of, or remember. Whatever physical technologies (electronic, mechanical etc) you plan to have, perhaps its best to think of it from an industrialist perpective? If smartphones are to be used as an example, it is possible that a magical equivilant may have existed for hundreds of years already. But because the process to make them is extensive and costly they cannot be mass produced (Or at least not as easily). As such the smart phones have an advantage (commercially at least) over the "magic phone." However a magic phone would likely still work in a place where a smartphone has no signal (assuming the magic isn't being interfered with).

    That's my thoughts on magic and technology.

    To answer your other questions, you seem like you have the plot quite firmly in your mind already. I would personally recommend working backwards. Go through your story piece by piece, and identify the parts that require world building. Bare in mind there could be contradictions in lore and the rules for magic using this method, however this is (thankfully) a work of fiction, meaning that in theory there should always be a work around for this potential problem.
     
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  5. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Definitely a hominid

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    That's probably a good idea.
    The best answer to that is IMHO what Tolley said:
    The cost-use ratio could be a good deciding factor. You can only afford so much magic unless you're rich. So you have to fill the rest with "traditional" tech.
     
  6. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'll pop in too with this: on first drafts expect to mess it up. You might decide something in chapter 3, and then discover in chapter 13 that actually, having it work the other way suits your story a whole lot more. That's fine, first drafts are only there to exist. Tell your story, that'll give you a feel for what suits your worldbuilding best.

    But as for the actual question, hm. Has magic always existed or has it just recently 'came out' so to speak? Or was it really hidden and then something set off it becoming mainstream? Depending on what route you go, that'd affect your world. Personally, I get a bit 'eh' about magic suddenly 'coming out' as backstory. I always wonder what kept it from being 'out' in the first place. But if you do go one of those routes, consider how that would have affected the world. If it existed and then became mainstream, then probably certain demographics flock to it more. If it just exploded onto the scene, then probably people are experimenting to figure out what's up, or have they got that figured out by now? Going for for 'magic has always existed' then it probably won't be so much 'magic vs technology' than 'magic technology'- look up 'magitech' it might give you some inspiration.
     
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  7. S M Tolley

    S M Tolley New Member

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    I'd imagine it would be that, certain groups of a much smaller quantity (compared with the mass populace at least) are the reason why knowledge of this nature, or even knowledge of real world things (an example being: Underground Music) wouldn't be known to others (non magical people) in the world at large. Its a bit like conspiracies, the more people that know the bigger the risk of discovery.

    Y'know this has actually reminded me of an idea for a video game I once had. It was an FPS where some of the other characters/soldiers of your squad would be of a different race. I might look at this again, maybe I can place it in one of my world. Probably Eeywish, at a much later point in its world history.
     
  8. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Mostly unrelated, but I've never actually heard the term New Adult before, and it seems like it might be the right category for my own WIP.

    In line with what others have said, magic should never be depicted as free. And it shouldn't automatically be the best way of doing something.
    Computers are very powerful technology, but in the same way computers aren't free and they aren't the best way of doing everything anyway.
    Magic is also often depicted as fickle and somewhat dangerous. Especially if it's 'darker' or more powerful.

    My WIP is a modern urban fantasy, and as well as the two points above, there is the fact that it's a hidden world story, and therefore the majority of the population has no awareness of magic and those that do will use modern technology additionally to blend in.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Be careful with "New Adult". It was originally posited as a sort of post-YA catchall, but it's quickly become dominated by erotic romance, generally with a fairly specific "damaged, brooding hero" trope. If you aren't familiar with the the category, you need to do some reading before you try to market as part of it.
     
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  10. l nimbus

    l nimbus Member

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    Been there, done that.

    Combined modern day Earth, magic, and a video game system. Yay me. And an apocalypse. And an evil, universal entertainment company. And lots of other shtick.
     
  11. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    I've been having similar issues; I started off with a fantasy world, then it evolved into magitek, so I'm trying to work out the tech level - what exists, what's tech vs. magic, etc. The main questions for me have been:

    1: How prevalent are mages (general term for "people who can use magic")? What can they do?
    2: What can be done better with tech? What can be done better with magic?
    3: Is there a reason why something is done one way and not the other, or favors one over the other regardless of efficiency (availability, price, convenience, cultural mores, laws)?

    Now, to answer your questions:
    1: It depends. In my case, I had to figure out the plot before I could do serious worldbuilding, because I didn't know where the characters would go, who was involved, and what all was going on.
    2: Since we don't know anything about your magic system, we can't answer that. There are several threads like this around here; I'd suggest checking them out. In the meantime, take a good look at your system and figure out what it can and can't do. Aside from the questions above, what do your mages do after graduation? They go to school to learn magic, which implies that their talents have a meaningful place in society. That right there should give you a direction for your inquiry.
     

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