Recently I’ve seen and heard people discussing how, if you are writing fantasy, your magic needs to be science. What are they talking about? Is this something new?
If you write for young readers, you may have already heard conversations about this. We just tend to frame it a little differently. When you write fantasy, there need to be rules to your magic. How does that mean the same thing as “your magic needs to be science”? Like this.
In science, there are certain universal rules. When you drop a book, it falls to the floor. When you heat ice, it turns into water. If you heat it enough, it boils and becomes steam. The world works in certain ways and we know what they are.
When you write fantasy, your magic needs to follow rules. Don’t freak out. They don’t have to be complicated. Think about the Harry Potter books. Spells were the result of using a wand and saying the appropriate things. But not every wizard could use every wand. Some wizards were much better at using wands than others.
Perhaps in your world humans can’t do magic. Only pixies can do magic. This means that when your main character accidentally turns her toast into a toad stool, she knows something is up.
Or maybe spells can only be performed in daylight. Or on Wednesdays. Or if you stand on one foot while wearing a lime-green tutu. The point is that you have to establish these rules for yourself, the writer. You may want to explain them to the reader, but you probably don’t need to. It is just one more way for you to make things complicated for your character.
Does your character know how the magic works? Maybe but maybe not. Harry doesn’t know why the glass disappeared in the zoo and released the snake. A character who purchases a spell has no clue what the mechanics behind it are, only that it will work in a certain way.
If there are rules about how magic works in your world, it makes for a more compelling story. Success is harder to achieve. There is actually some doubt whether or not your character will succeed.
Come on. You can do it. It isn’t rocket science.