May 27, 2019, 04:27:35 AM

Author Topic: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells  (Read 666 times)

Offline Yora

So I now got an actual super rough idea for a story of book length and a pretty clear image of the kind of world it takes place in and what kinds of things the characters will run into. Among which are a lot of gods of the land and nature spirits that have a very extensive degree of control over the environment and climate, as well as priests, witches, and sorcerers who are trying to wrestle at least some of that control from them. Then there's also prominent naturally occuring objects and places of great magical powers. It's all going to be very magic heavy and mystical.

And yet, at  the same time, I find myself having absolutely no desire to really hammer out any specifics for how magic actually works. Where the energies come from, how it's controlled, how people learn to access it, how it affects things, and all that kind of stuff. It's not like I've made a deliberate choice to keep these things unexplained to the audience. I just really don't want to do this part of work. I've done it a couple of times in the past and I think it came out really well, but this time I just think about it and thing ...bleh.

I kind of feel like this is something that is going to be important and necessary. Something that I will need for a story with these central elements. But I am also feeling very unsure whether I just got tired of hammering out magic systems, or if my intuition is telling me that it's not appropriate to do so this time.  :P
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2018, 09:24:41 PM »
Do whatever moves you forward. If you're resisting doing this bit now, shelve it for later. Write a first draft. If you hit a problem, solve it then. If not, consider in revisions whether you have inconsistencies that need you to hammer out the rule set.

Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2018, 10:03:59 PM »
I usually lay out a few basics before writing, but I figure out most of it as I'm writing.

Online Skip

Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2018, 03:49:56 AM »
I get not wanting to work out rules for spell casting, but at the same time if all magic is undifferentiated, it will all blend together for the reader. So it might be worth working out that some magic has a divine source, some is place-bound, some requires study and skill while other is natural, and so on.

That doesn't mean you need to work out rules. It does mean, however, you need to work out limits. Otherwise, magic becomes the Ultimate Magic, as in whatever I need in order to advance the plot at this point. A reader's least favorite form of magic.
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Offline JRTroughton

Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2018, 12:57:26 PM »
Don't worry about specific hard and fast rules. Let the theme and wonder of the magic take precedence in this draft. As you run through the story you'll probably start coming up with basic rules about why it works the way it does, but certainly don't let these restrict your use of magic in the story.

The actual rules can come later on, if they are even necessary. As long as the magic use is consistent, you don't really need to break down the mechanics of it.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2018, 01:42:12 PM »
It's not necessary to have a magic system. Game of Thrones doesn't explain anything. Harry Potter doesn't go into too much specifics as well.

Reading Kings of the Wyld (winner of FF list and made it top 10 GR and is very well-regarded around) and they have magic hats that pull food, petrifying prisons, magical creatures, talking dragons and it works really well.

Conan, Kane and a lot of sword and sorcery doesn't have anything too detailed as well. In fact, leaving it mysterious and alien was much more effective.

So for some stories a detailed system will work really well even if it never makes to the page and is just to guide you. Others will still work really well without it as well.
If you're already feeling this down when trying to put it together, most likely the result won't be great for the reader either.
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Offline Yora

Re: Somehow I just don't feel like working out rules for casting spells
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2018, 02:32:55 PM »
Don't worry about specific hard and fast rules. Let the theme and wonder of the magic take precedence in this draft. As you run through the story you'll probably start coming up with basic rules about why it works the way it does, but certainly don't let these restrict your use of magic in the story.

The actual rules can come later on, if they are even necessary. As long as the magic use is consistent, you don't really need to break down the mechanics of it.
That actually sounds like a really practical approach. Start with what magical things are going to happen and then establish rules that accomodate them. Very simple, and should be just as consistent.
At least when magic has only limited appearance in the hands of protagonists and antagonists. If you have too many random magical effects all at once, then finding a pattern in them could become more difficult.