One Writer’s Journey

August 4, 2016

Magical Realism: What It Is, What It Isn’t

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:09 am
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Old, Haunting, DoorAsk about my middle grade novel manuscript Rat Race and I’ll tell you that it is magical realism.  At least, that’s what I would have said before reading associate agent Roseanne Wells posts (1 and 2) on MSWL (Manuscript Wish List.)

First things first, Wells discussed the history which lays in Latin American literature.  Magical realism, as the name suggestions, blends what is magical with what is real.  People don’t fuss about the magic.  It is just there like air and toilet paper — you kind of take its presence for granted.

But then Wells got into the specifics and I had to start to wonder about my own manuscript.  That said, Wells also points out that there is no single consistent definition agreed upon throughout publishing.  But this is Wells’ definition and it will tell you what she expects to see when she asks for this type of fantasy:

Set here.  Set now.  The story shouldn’t be set in a world that it is a lot like Earth.  It shouldn’t be set 200 years ago.  It is here.  It is now.  The examples that she gives are Harry Potter and Narnia.  Our world, our time, add magic and stir.  (Check, this I have.)

Ghosts, yes.  Vampires and werewolves, no.  Why no vampires, werewolves or demons?  Because that would be . . . paranormal.  There might be ghosts and witches but they don’t behave like your creepty threatending ghosts and witches.  You might have to read some Latin American magical realism to fully get this.  (I’m good here, too.)

Magic, less the rules and regs.  In fantasy, magic comes along with a lot of rules and regulations and things to keep it in balance.  There is energy and intent and it is WORK.  That’s fantasy.  In magical realism, some people have/see magic.  Other people do not.  But there’s not a lot of angst about it.  The story unfolds and here it is.  (And this is what I think keeps mine from being magical realism.)

Read both of Wells posts to find out more about her definition of magical realism.  As it stands, I think my story my be straight up fantasy and that’s okay.  Before I decide, I’ll be refreshing my knowledge of magical realism with a spot of reading …




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