12 Questions to Ask Yourself About the System of Magic in Your Fantasy Novel

Illustration for article titled 12 Questions to Ask Yourself About the System of Magic in Your Fantasy Novel

Mette Ivie Harrison, author of Tris and Izzie and the forthcoming The Rose Throne, has some great, succinct advice for anyone creating a new fantasy world. Before you start having people sling magic around all over the place, make sure your system of magic passes the sniff test.


Here are Harrison's 12 questions you should ask yourself about your system of magic.

Top image: Wrath of the Dragon by Vampire Princess on Deviant Art.

This list comes in part from Holly Black's talk on creating a magic system, though I've added to it after a couple of years of thinking about it on my own.

1. How is it learned and executed?

2. How is it accessed?

3. Does it have a will of its own?

4. Is it restricted in space and time?

5. What does available magic do?

6. How does it relate to the character, plot and theme of the book?

7. What is the cost of magic?

8. What can it not do?

9. How long does it last?

10. Who can use it?

11. How do others react to it?

12. Why haven't people with this power taken over the world?

Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of MIRA, MIRROR (2004, Viking), THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND (2007, HarperEos), THE PRINCESS AND THE BEAR (2009, HarperEos), THE PRINCESS AND THE SNOWBIRD (HarperTeen 2010), TRIS AND IZZIE (Egmont, October 2011), and the forthcoming THE ROSE THRONE (Egmont May 2013). This article originally appeared on her Tumblr.



Or you could just... I don't know... write a good story? And not worry about someone else's rules on how your creation should work. Sigh...So tired of this over analyzing of everything aspect we have now for movies, books and other media. What happened to imagination and leaving things to the viewers or readers to fill in for themselves? Someone killed it seems, somewhere along the way...