HEY WRITER FRIENDS
there’s this amazing site called realtimeboardwhich is like a whiteboard where you can plan and draw webs and family trees and timelines and all that sort of stuff. you can also insert videos, documents, photos, and lots of other things. you can put notes and post-its and, best of all, you can invite other people to be on the board with you and edit together!!
this is really really awesome and a great tool for novel planning, so if you’re doing nanowrimo…. this could be good for you!!
Hey, folks! Sorry for the random posts and reblogs that are OT. I run about seven other blogs on the same account, and apparently, I was too tired to keep track of which blog I was posting to for the last one. The other one, I really don’t know how that happened, but in any case, sorry for the confusion!
Hey everyone! As NaNoWriMo approaches, and the month of November itself, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a masterpost of tips, techniques, and preparation exercises. I did not make any of the content listed below myself, so credit goes directly to the respective content creators. Happy writing, and remember- keep your head up. It’s not about quality, it’s about finishing. You got this. Good luck.
- 10 Tips from the Writing Box
- Five Things I Wish I’d Known Going Into My First NaNoWriMo
- Pre-NaNoWriMo Tips
- October 31st Planning Advice
- How To: Write a Novel in 30 Days
- How To: Start Your Novel
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers
- Is Your Novel Working?
- Story Idea Generator
- How To: Reach Your NaNoWriMo Goal
- Staying Motivated
GENERAL WRITING TIPS:
- Developing a Well Paced Novel
- How To: Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method
- The Opening Hook
- How To: Write a Novel
- Effectively Outlining Your Plot
- Developing Your Style
- Novel Outlining 101
- 9 Simple Writing Habits
- Dialogue Writing
- Busting Your Writing Rut
- Name Generator
- Name Playground
- Behind the Name
- Characterization Tips
- Character Chart
- Seven Common Character Types
- Advice for Writing Specific Characters
- Pre-Writing Characters
- Main Character Tropes
- Creating a Likeable Character
- The Universal Mary Sue Test
- Myers Briggs Personality Test
- 100 Positive Traits
- Character Development Exercises
- Eight Bad Characters
- Using Mental Illness in Your Writing
- Family Tree Designer
- 123 Character Flaws
- Writing Realistic Platonic Male Friendships
- Writing Intriguing Male and Female Characters
- Writing POCs
- Writing Sexuality
- Writing Primary Characters
- Writing Secondary Characters
PLOT & CONFLICT:
- How To: Write Without a Plot
- 36 Dramatic Situations
- Tips for Writing a Compelling Plot
- Plot Development
- The Art of Foreshadowing
- Plotting Without Fears
- What is Conflict?
- Conflict Test
- 5 Tips for Writing an Effective Plot Twist
- How To: Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes
- 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep
- Plot Bank
- The ABCs (and Ds and Es) of Plot Development
- 12 Things to Keep in Mind When Writing an Ending
- Various Plot Resources
THIS MAKES ME EXCITED FOR EVERYONE DOING NANAWRIMO.
GO EVERYONE GO GO
Asked by Anonymous
There’s only one real secret to writing a scary story: think about what scares you. All too often, people who set off to write scary stories fall into the trap that is Hollywood horror. One great example of this is creepypasta. There are some fantastic creepypasta stories out there, but not all of them are actually all that gory. For example, think about stories like “Candle Cove” or “The Disappearance of Ashley, Kansas.” Both of these stories are fantastically written and fantastically creepy, but they don’t necessarily rely on images or concepts commonly seen in modern horror.
Then you have a lot of creepypasta that, frankly, isn’t well-written, especially fan pastas based on video game franchises. Most of these contain phrases like “hyper-realistic blood” or involve the death of tons of characters. However, not a lot of these are actually scary, and it’s not just because violent creepypasta are a dime a dozen these days. It’s because a lot of them miss the point of what makes something actually creepy.
Horror, like comedy and drama, is very difficult to pull off effectively because it requires a lot of introspection, not to mention it’s frequently misunderstood. We underestimate the genre because it has a set of tropes and stereotypes that we see so very frequently that we begin to think that writing about those ideas is what makes up horror. However, what we don’t understand is that it’s emotion that makes up horror, not necessarily the images themselves. Just as we have to think about what’s funny or what’s sad for comedy and drama respectively, we have to think about what’s scary or thrilling to us. Yes, that means a horror story is more likely to be a subjective, highly personal thing, but tapping into your genuine, actual fears gives a horror story more life and integrity. The more of either you pump into your story, the more likely you’ll be able to evoke that terrified feeling in others by way of author empathy.
What I mean is if you write a story about a serial killer clown when you’re not afraid of clowns yourself, you won’t understand what makes a clown scary. As a result, you won’t be able to describe why that clown should be scary, and therefore, it won’t be. However, if you’re absolutely terrified of clowns, you won’t be able to help but hone in on exactly what qualities about clowns scares you. You’ll find yourself describing how you feel when you see a clown, and as a result, you’ll end up amping up the tone of the story because you know exactly what nerves to hit. It is, literally, writing what you know.
That’s what I mean by knowing what is and isn’t scary. You can’t make others feel afraid if you don’t know how to feel afraid yourself because you won’t know what to describe. As such, you’ll need to sit down and think hard about what it is that makes you feel uneasy and why. Think about what creepypasta or horror stories you read and try to pinpoint what it is about them that keeps you up at night. If you don’t know the answer to that, start reading a lot of different horror stories. (Trawling /r/nosleep on Reddit or /x/ on 4chan or, in general, any Google search for creepypasta are all good places to start.) Don’t stick to one type of story, either. If you read exclusively game-based creepypasta, you’ll start thinking that you’re just afraid of hyper-realistic blood, so in order to avoid focusing too much on a narrow set of images, be sure to branch out until you’re certain of what kinds of concepts you find scary. Alternatively, make lists of what you’re afraid of and then try to explain to yourself why you’re afraid of those things. Once you figure it out, write about those emotions and those things that make you feel afraid. Never ever write about horror tropes without fully understanding the emotion of fear because horror tropes themselves are not scary.
In short, the first step to writing a good horror story is knowing what fear is in the first place and figuring out how to describe fear in words. The best way to do that is understanding when, how, and why you experience fear. Once you get that down, you’ll be able to evoke that emotion in others by using your experiences to help you choose the words you need to recreate how you felt.
I’d also like to call attention to this video, as it’ll also put into words another explanation of how the human mind works when it comes to fear. Hopefully, that’ll also give you a better idea of what makes your readers’ minds tick.
Good luck, and happy Halloween, followers!
Asked by Anonymous
Not weird at all, anon! :)
First off, let’s talk about which can be sacrificed. Without a doubt, world building. See, while it may be nice to do in a massive fantasy universe or other world that requires a lot of detail, it’s not necessary in every story. It’s possible to gloss over worldly details in a story set in the real world or a familiar canon setting, for example, and even if you have an otherworldly fantasy setting, how much detail you go into depends completely on how much you need. It’s entirely possible to write a story in which you say, “Okay, so this world is exactly like ours, only populated with cats,” and that would be perfectly all right. (Cartoons are a great example of this. You might have a culture in which Robin Hood is a fox or in which there is a well-established mouse population in Victorian England, but there really isn’t that much detail in either of these films to give you a full idea of what their worlds are like.)
That said, what out of these three would be the most important? In my humble opinion, characterization.
See, here’s the thing. Characters drive your story. Deep ones, human ones with layers upon layers of complexity, will write the story for you by providing plenty of conflict themselves. So you could have a really weak, extremely simple plot or concept, but if the characters are well-written, audiences can overlook the flatness of the concept because they become attached to the characters. Conversely, a really awesome plot idea will be killed if the characters aren’t deep or if they feel wooden.
I know I’ll probably be burned at the stake for this, but look at The Breakfast Club. At its heart, it’s a really pointless movie. A bunch of troubled kids spend a Saturday in detention, overseen by an caricature of a teacher, and along the way, they talk about sex, do drugs, and provide support for each other. It is literally an hour and a half of watching kids in high school, and a lot of the conflict of the movie is solved via these characters treating each other terribly until they realize their problems are insignificant—if those conflicts are solved at all. Even the teacher-student conflict is pretty generic for its time, and it doesn’t really go anywhere. Yet The Breakfast Club is still considered to be a good movie because its characters were relatable. They weren’t just examples of high school archetypes. Sure, they presented themselves as such at first, but the longer the movie went on, the more you saw how deep and detailed these characters were. Eventually, they became people with problems and character growth and development. And the way it’s handled is gradually, with bits and pieces of their inner worlds revealed as they open up to each other naturally. What makes The Breakfast Club what it is is the Breakfast Club itself, and that is why we consider it to be a timeless movie, even though its plot is just barely held together.
Meanwhile, I tried to come up with an example of a movie with a really fantastic plot concept and decent pacing but terrible characters. I really did. But the problem is that many of those aren’t particularly memorable. I suppose you could say this about M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography, actually. For example, Lady in the Water? Actually a really good plot concept that was not only conscious of story clichés but played with them constantly from the first shot. It didn’t even have a ridiculous and infamous Shyamalan twist critics love making fun of. But it fell short of being a good movie because its characters were complete archetypes and were, frankly, not that interesting, especially the lead character and the titluar lady in the water. As a result, we don’t really call that a good movie, and if you’re wondering how memorable it was, feel free to take the time to summarize it right now.
So, yes. You can have a fantastic plot idea, but the problem is that having a fantastic plot highlights the characters. If they’re good, then your story will be awesome. If they’re shallow and one-dimensional, they’re going to contrast starkly with your story. Meanwhile, if you have a very simple plot concept and great characters … well, that’s what ends up getting called cute slice-of-life fic, I’d say. It’s because when your readers sit down and pick up your work, they want to become invested in the characters first and the plot second. Sure, you’ll have people who might like the plot, but think about what most people talk about when it comes to fandoms. It’s the characters they think are awesome or funny or dramatic or horrible, not the plot. It’s the characters they want to ship or see be shipped. The characters, as I’ve said, are really the ones who drive your story forward and help your readers connect with what’s going on, so it’s characterization that you should never, ever sacrifice in favor of anything else.
This is an ultimate masterlist of many, many resources that could be helpful for writers/roleplayers.
- Improve Your Writing Habits Now
- 5 Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Writing
- Getting Over Roleplaying Insecurities
- Improve Your Paras
- Why the Right Word Choices Result in Better Writing
- 4 Ways To Have Confidence in Your Writing
- Writing Better Than You Normally Do
- How’s My Driving?
- A Description Resource
- 55 Words to Describe Someones Voice
- Describing Skin Colors
- Describing a Person: Adding Details
- Emotions Vocabulary
- 90 Words For ‘Looks’
- Be More Descriptive
- Describe a Character’s Look Well
- 100 Words for Facial Expressions
- To Show and Not To Tell
- Words to Describe Facial Expressions
- Describing Clothes
- List of Actions
- Tone, Feelings and Emotions
- Writing Specific Characters
- Character Guides
- Writing Help for Writers
- Ultimate Writing Resource List
- Lots of RP Guides
- Online Writing Resources
- List of Websites to Help You Focus
- Resources for Writing Bio’s
- Helpful Links for Writing Help
- General Writing Resources
- Resources for Biography Writing
- Mental Ilnesses/Disorders Guides
- 8 Words You Should Avoid While Writing
- Body Language Cheat
- Body Language Reference Cheat
- Tips for Writers: Body Language
- Types of Crying
- Body Language: Mirroring
- Words Instead of Walk (2)
- Commonly Confused Adjectives
- A Guide on Punctuation
- Common Writing Mistakes
- 25 Synoms for ‘Expession’
- How to: Avoid Misusing Variations of Words
- Words to Keep Inside Your Pocket
- The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups
- Other Ways to Say..
- 300+ Sophiscated and Underused Words
- List of Misused Words
- Words for Sex
- 100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
- Words to Use More Often
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’ or ‘Laugh’
- Three Self Editing Tips
- Words to Use Instead of ‘Walk’, ‘Said’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Sad’
- Synonyms for Common Words
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’
- Transitional Words
- The Many Faces and Meanings of ‘Said’
- Synonyms for ‘Wrote’
- A Case Of She Said, She Said
- How to: Cure Writer’s Block
- Some Tips on Writer’s Block
- Got Writer’s Block?
- 6 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
- Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block
- How to: Make That Application Your Bitch
- How to: Make Your App Better
- How to: Submit a Flawless Audition
- 10 Tips for Applying
- Para Sample Ideas
- 5 Tips on Writing an IC Para Sample
- Writing an IC Sample Without Escaping From the Bio
- How to: Create a Worthy IC Para Sample
- How to: Write an Impressive Para Sample
- How to: Lengthen Short Para’s
- Drabble Stuff
- Prompts List
- Writing Prompts
- Drabble Prompts
- How to Get Into Character
- Writing Challenges/Prompts
- A Study in Writing Prompts for RPs
- Para Prompts & Ideas
- Writing Prompts for Journal Entries
- A List of Para Starters
- Bad Asses
- Bitches (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Emotional Detachment
- The Girl Next Door
- Introverts (2)
- Mean Persons (2)
- Party Girls
- Rich (2)
- Serial Killers (2)
- Shyness (2, 3)
- Villains (2)
- Disorders in general (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Anxiety (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder (2, 3)
- Cotard Delusions
- Depression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Eeating Disorders (2, 3)
- Facitious Disorders
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Multiple Personality Disorder (2)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Night Terrors
- Kleptomania (2)
- A Pyromaniac
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2)
- Sex Addiction (2)
- Schizophrenia (2)
- Sociopaths (2)
- Aspergers Syndrome
- Someone Blind (2)
- Cancer (2, 3)
- Muteness (2, 3)
- Ballet Dancer (2)
- Alcohol Influence (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Cocaine Influence
- Ecstasy Influence (2)
- Heroin Use
- LSD Influence
- Marijuana Influence (2, 3)
- Opiate Use
- California (2, 3)
- England/Britain (2, 3, 4, 5)
- New York
- The South (2)
- A Death Scene
- Loosing Someone (2)
- Old Persons
- Physical Injuries (2, 3)
- Sexual Abuse (2)
- Fight Scenes (2, 3, 4)
→ CREATING CHARACTERS
- Components of Your Biographies
- Character sheet (2, 3)
- Need Help With Character Creation?
- How to: Draw Inspiration for Characters From Music
- How to: Write a Biography (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- How to: Write a Fully Developed Character
- How to: Create a Cast of Characters (2)
- Writing an Original Character (2, 3)
- Creating Believable Characters (2, 3)
- Bio Formats (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Little Things You Can Add To Your Bios
- Connections (2)
- Bio Twists
- Jung’s 16 Personality Types
- Underused Character Personalities
- Birth-Order: Personality Traits
- The Difference Between Personality and Behavior
- How to: Show a Characters Personality In a Paragraph
- 16 Character Traits
- Underused PersonalitiesPersonality TraitsHabits
- 300 Possible Secrets to Give Your Characters
- I Bet You Didn’t Know..
- Character Plots And Secrets (2)
- Celebrity Secrets
- Secret Masterlist
- Song Lyrics Masterlist
- Songs for Biographies
- Favorite Quotes: TV and Movies
- Favorite Quotes: Notable Authors
- Favorite Quotes: Celebrities
- Favorite Quotes: Popular Books (2)
- Quotes From Songs
- Character Quotes
- Masterlist of Bio Lyrics
- Masterlist of Bio Quotes
- Masterlist of Song Lyrics
- Biography Lyrics
- A Masterlist of Quotes
- +130 Quotes
- The Quotation Garden
→ WHILE ROLEPLAYING
- 100 Paragraph Titles
- Para Titles - Song Title Edition (2,3)
- A Whole Ton of Para Titles
- 350+ Song Titles
- Para Titles For You (2)
- How to: Create an interesting starter
- How to: Make an Interesting Starter
- Gif Conversations: A Guide
- A Brief Guide to Starters
- Interesting Gif Convesation Starters
- Starters Masterlist
- Gif Starter Posts
- 46 Interesting Gif Chat Starters
- Ideas for Gif Chat Starters
- Masterlist: Jobs
- Possible Careers for Characters
- Artistic Occupations
- Martha’s Vineyard Job Masterlist
- Interesting Jobs
- Para Ideas
- Masterlist: Para Ideas
- Top 50 Places for Starters
- Writing Topics: Para Ideas
- 101 Date Ideas
- 68 Date Ideas
- 22 Date Ideas
- Popular Places to Eat
- Character Development Questionaire
- Character Surveys
- C.D. Questionaire
- 30 Day Character Development Meme
- Character Development Questions (2)
- 100 Pt. Questionaire
- IC and OOC Surveys
- Online Test for Character Building
- 30 Days of Character Development
- How to: Develop Characters
- Get To Know Your Characters
Romance (in general)
- The Little Ways a Ship Gets Build
- Roleplaying Relationships
- 8 Ways to Say I Love You
- How to: Make a Set Ship RP Work
- How to: Write a Romantic Scene
- Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Relationships
- Putting a Label on It
- Synonyms for Love
- Pregnancy (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Smut Guide: Casual Sex
- Smut Guide: For Beginners
- How to: Write a First Time Sex Scene Romantically
- How to: Smut - The Bare Bones
- How to: Smut (For Virgins)
- How to: Write Lesbian Smut
- How to: Write Smut (2, 3)
- How to: Write a Blowjob/Prepping for Smut
- Smut Guides of Tumblr
- Tips on Writing Sex Scenes
- A Guide to Language in Smut
- Domination and Submission
- Making Love
- A Smut Guide
- How to: Create the Best Plot for Your RP
- How to: Create A Plot Outline in 8 Steps
- How to: Write A Plot in 12 Steps
- How to: Write A Quality Plot
- How to: Spice Up Your Roleplay Plots
- Components of Your Plot Page
- Writing Up A Plot
- Basics of Writing A Plot
- Links for Plot Writing Help
- Eight Unique Plot Ideas
- Plot Twists
- Situation Ideas (2, 3)
- Guide to Plotting
A Guide to Writing Awesome.
Everyone loves magic (and if you don’t you should be ashamed!). I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to turn into a dragon, shoot flaming spaghetti noodles from their eyeballs or teleport their car instead of sitting in traffic? I know it sounds awesome, but in order to do these things when writing a story you need to have some ground rules. Just like any other concept in your world, you need to figure out how it works. It doesn’t have to be an exact down-to-a-science kind of explanation, but it should at least be plausible.
So, how does magic work?
Born with it – Well aren’t you lucky? Your special self was born with the ability to use magic. A lot of the ‘born with it’ magic users are often of a certain race or bloodline. For instance in Harry Potter the ability to use magic was tied to blood. A lot of fantasy stories tend to have the token magic race, like elves.
Gift from God – You were given the ability to bend reality to your will and turn fearsome monsters into puppies by a higher power, usually some special deity. Dungeons and Dragons uses this concept for the Divine Magic classification regarding magic that clerics can use.
Got it from an artifact – You found an ancient magic item that seems to be a great source of power. Using or wearing this artifact grants you the ability to use magic.
Static power source – Your world gets its source of magic from a mysterious and ancient power source. This can be things like: power crystals/gems, a dimensional breach, an ancient well of power that possibly taps into the core of your world, the life energy of your world/realm/multiverse, an ancient (possibly holy) structure that may or may not have served as a tomb for a dead deity, and the list goes on. You can really make up anything as a static power source as long as it’s explained well enough to make sense in your story.
Power of souls/will – MAGIC IS MADE OF PEOPLE. You can tap into your own soul, the souls of others or even manipulate your will to manifest into a physical spell effect. Depending on your power, you may be able to cast magic by thought alone.
Book learning – Magic primarily exists in hefty tomes that require years of study to even begin to understand. Magic may exist in text, symbols or a mix of both. Spell scrolls, rune casting, magic tags and spell circles all fit here.
Use your words – There is power in language. Magic may be instilled in the very words we speak. The language may be common use or it may be hidden. Magic may be cast using a single word, a phrase or a lengthy incantation that has a lot of prep time.
Fire burn and cauldron bubble – Magic in your world is primarily cast from potions. You can mix together any number of ingredients for a specific effect on either yourself or an opponent.
Science is magic – It is possible to do this. Some say that when you have incredibly complex science, it can do so many amazing things that it may as well be magic. Adventure Time introduced an idea like this. Princess Bubblegum is a science genius and knows the forces that govern the world all have a scientific basis. She makes a comment regarding the magic users of Wizard City that their magic is science, but they just don’t understand it.
Feel free to combine any of these to make a system that works for you or come up with your own.
You don’t have to classify your magic, but there are some classifications that are commonly used when talking about certain spell types. References: D&D and The Elder Scrolls.
Abjuration – Often refers to protective spells like barriers, walls, shields, wards and circles. Magic dispels, enchantment breaks, and curse removals also fall into this category.
Alchemy – Some fantasy worlds define alchemy as being a kind of magic and some don’t, and those that do have incredibly broad definitions. Alchemy can be used to create potions and longer-lasting elixirs in order to modify the conventions of a normal world. Alchemy can often do anything that the other schools can.
Alteration/Transmutation – This is magic that alters the properties of a target. Buff spells (like increasing a person’s strength), weakness spells, spells that turn your mom into a cat, water breathing and spells of the like belong here.
Conjuration/Summoning – Want to summon a demon to fight for you? Or perhaps you want to be able to make your own magic weapons appear out of thin air? Well, that’s what this spell school is for.
Divination – Focuses on learning information. Example: Detect Magic. You can be pretty creative with this one, as it’s the spy school of spells.
Enchantment – In D&D these types of spells affect the mind and emotions. Sometimes this is also defined as enchanting weapons and objects to give them magic properties (instead of alteration).
Evocation/Invocation/Destruction – This is where all of the fun, energy based spells go. Things like ice spears, lightning bolts, water cyclones and fire balls are in this school.
Illusion – This is exactly what you think it is. Illusion spells can be cast on an individual, a group or an area to make something appear to be what it really isn’t. You can create hallucinations of one or all of the senses here.
Necromancy – Feel like waking the dead? This school is responsible for the creation of undead armies from either existing bodies or the creation of a new being. These spells often involve death and the manipulation of life energy.
Restoration – Healing magic meant to mend wounds, replenish energy and relax a troubled mind. It can also be used against undead.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when you think about how you want magic to be cast:
How much preparation time (if any) is required for a certain kind of spell? Is it some sort of complex ritual or is it reflexive?
- Can it be interrupted, countered or dispelled?
- Do you cast with words? Body language? Thoughts? Drawings? Tags? Circles? Text? From an object like a wand or sword?
- If it’s from an object, do you lose the ability to use magic when disarmed?
- Does it require any sort of concentration?
- Can you cast while moving or do you have to be static for some reason?
- How easy or hard is the spell to control? Does it have the ability to miss?
- What does it look like? Is it a chain, an aura, a bolt, a ground effect? You can get creative with the visuals, and make sure that you do because it will help the reader get a better grasp on how your spells work.
- What are the consequences of using this kind of spell?
Oh Yes, There are Consequences.
Like balancing the traits of a character, you must also do the same with magic.
As a general rule of thumb, magic should cause just as many, if not more, problems than it solves. Don’t get me wrong, you can use a spell to solve a problem in your story, but don’t get used to doing it all of the time. Magic is not easy street. Magic is an untamed force and sometimes, that untamed force gets pissed and strikes back.
Location, location, location – Perhaps that firestorm spell wasn’t the best idea to use inside of that shopping mall… Where you cast your spell will tend to help determine what you cast. You’re probably not going to use something that causes a lot of collateral damage in a high population area. You’re also not going to use a loud spell in a situation that requires you to be sneaky and quiet. Also consider the world and whether or not magic is known and commonly accepted. If it’s not and you fire off a lightning bolt in a busy intersection, then you might have a bit of a problem with the local police, or the National Guard.
Casting above your level – You need to figure out the level of magic you’re able to use. It depends on your experience usually, unless you’re gifted by God and can use high level spells right out of the gate. Magic can be unpredictable. If you try to cast a spell that’s far beyond your level, it’s going to blow up in your face and you, or other people, could get seriously hurt.
A price to pay – What does it cost to cast magic? This is something you need to figure out quickly and probably depends on your source. Maybe using a spell will deplete so much energy from your power crystal? Maybe spells require certain materials and running out of those materials will stop you from casting? Maybe using magic takes a certain amount of time off your life? Maybe there’s a spell that will automatically kill you? Maybe it requires more than one sacrifice? Maybe spells cause bodily harm to the user? Maybe you slowly start to go insane? Whatever the price, you need to be sure that it balances out the power of spell. Simple spells, like casting floating lights, may not cost much but something like warping space and time needs to have a terrible cost. There are exceptions, of course, if you’re working with a cast of characters that are god-like in nature. Then you can have those kinds of powers and can instead counter them with a character of equal power.
Magic vs. technology – How does magic fare against advanced technology? Can technology be disrupted by magic (like in the Dresden Files) or vise versa (anti-magic shields in Final Fantasy X)? Can your magic stand up to guns, tanks, aircraft? How do you fare when you run into someone who is an adept gunslinger or a master of blades? If your story has some sort of technology, this question needs to be answered. It’s always bothered me that Harry Potter never brought up what would happen if a gun was introduced into the wizarding world. The Harry Potter Puppet Pals suggested killing Voldemort with Uzis, which to me makes sense because it was never addressed in the books whether or not bullets could go through magic shields.
Spell weakness – What spells or types of magic are weak to each other? Magic can be equated to looking at a Pokemon type chart and figuring out what’s super effective and what’s not. Example: fire can melt ice but fire gets put out by water. When creating a new spell, always ask what type of spell it is and what possible counters it could have in a real world setting. For instance, I have a character who uses magic to give himself super speed and he gets trounced on by another one of my characters who can control ice because ice = no friction = no traction for running = a lot of sliding around.
Magic weapons – Magic weapons are pretty awesome but when you make one be sure it’s balanced, just like spells. If it has a special power, then make it one of kind and incredibly hard to use and/or acquire. Also be sure to give it a counter, whether it’s another weapon or a spell. Counters make things interesting and no one likes seeing a weapon that hands you the victory every time you use it.
A Final Word
When designing your magic, make sure it suits you and your story. For every cool, creative ability you make up, there needs to be some sort of drawback. Using magic as a tool to solve every single problem is boring and readers will tire of it. No one likes to read a story that has no complications and no struggles, especially if it uses magic. Remember that magic isn’t an answer, it’s a massive question.
Asked by Anonymous
Don’t worry! It’s not off-topic!
Question, though. In what fandom and to which outlet is your friend posting? Keep in mind that there are some outlets that believe it’s taboo to give an author criticism unless they specifically ask for it, which is perfectly fine and valid. If your friend is posting to one of those circles, it’s okay to leave likes or kudos or talk about the things you specifically liked in their story without offering constructive criticism.
However, let’s assume your friend is posting in an outlet or fandom where you’re supposed to leave concrit, or let’s assume your friend asked you for your complete, honest opinion, concrit included. The key is to be as tactful as possible and to balance the good with the bad—in other words, leave a well-written review. Explain your thoughts behind all of the suggestions you make, even corrections in grammar and word choice, and phrase it in ways that sound like suggestions. For example, if you want to tell them about a comma rule, let them know that exercising proper comma usage helps smooth out prose for a reader by introducing pauses at appropriate places or removing unnecessary pauses.
When talking about something more subjective, such as plot or characterization, always go out of your way to find an equal number of good points to talk about, even if you didn’t like the fic that much. Remember that every writer has the potential to improve, and part of your job as a reviewer is to find that potential and show the author what their strengths are. That way, they can look at the parts they executed well and figure out how to emulate that in the rest of their story while working to fix the weak points you also might point out.
The main idea is that you want to be honest. If your friend asks you to be brutally honest and give you concrit, don’t lie to them and say their work was the best fic you’ve ever read when you thought it wasn’t. Stretching the truth like that will lead to them getting hurt or angry when someone blunter comes along or when they fail to attract attention for their work. At the same time, you don’t want to tear down your friend. You want to sound like you’re encouraging them, and you do that by phrasing your thoughts as suggestions and by balancing the good with the bad. In other words, try to imagine the kind of concrit you’d want to receive from your friends and give them similar concrit in return. Chances are, you don’t want to be lied to, but you also don’t want to be verbally smacked around.
Will this prevent your friend from being too sensitive about concrit? It’s not really a guarantee, unfortunately. Your friend’s sensitivity towards concrit is, sad to say, an issue that they’d have to work out themselves. The best you can do is be as polite and encouraging as possible (yes, in other words, sugarcoat) in your reviews and hope that your encouraging tone softens the blow of the actual crit.