I have known David Powers King (DPK in my book) for quite a while now, and got to hear lots about the book he co-authored with Michael Jensen long before it found a home sweet home at Scholastic. So I was thrilled to be able to read it early! It had an incredible, unique, fascinating magic system. I asked DPK and Michael if they would tell us a little about what goes in to creating a magic system. Take it away, Michael and DPK!
Questions To Ask Before Weaving A Magic System
When writing fantasy, including a magic system is usually (but not always) expected. There is no set method for creating a magic system, and plenty of useful guides online. Should you decide to include magic in your story, there are a few things worth considering. We’ll tell the questions we asked and show you how our magic system evolved from the early stages of writing our novel.
1) What is the story about?
When creating Woven, we knew our story was about a princess and a ghost in search of a needle that can bring the ghost back to life. For this supposed needle to have this kind of power, it needs magic—what kind? After exploring sewing and weaving, we decided to base our magic on them.
2) How is this magic manifested, and what does it do?
Since sewing and weaving led to some wonderful parallels and plenty of room for symbolism, we looked into every aspect of the trade. This included visiting fabric stores and interviewing tailors. Then we created a list of all the tools used and gave each one a special, alternative use, the consequences for using them, how it looks, and how it makes the magical user feel.
Take notes and write a Magic Bible. We call ours The Woven Book.
3) Should we have rules and laws for using this magic?
We certainly wanted consequences, good or bad, for using magic. This required us to think of limitations, exceptions, and alternatives. When you add these to your magic bible and apply it to the story, the magic becomes real and less chaotic.
4) How does this magic impact the world, and who can use it?
If magic is widely known, everything from bath water to politics will be affected. If not so common, it can be a trade secret or something to be feared by people, rationally or not. We went in the middle by creating a system that was widely known, but few practice it. That way the idea of magic existing isn’t foreign to people, yet still not something seen every day.
5) When should we explain how the magic works?
There’s no need to bog readers down with explanations up front. It’s far more interesting to show a little magic and let the reader wonder how things work first. It’s not until a third of the way into Woven before an explanation is given. Even then, we hardly reveal much. Some of the elements didn’t make the cut, but we plan to use them in other books.
Many of the most beloved fantasy novels have a well thought-out magic system. Go ahead and take your time developing it so your magic can hold its ground among the giants. Good luck!
WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic
Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.
All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.
But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.
Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.
Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.
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|Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld|
|Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen|