Tag Archives: worldbuilding

This month A Drift of Quills is taking a peek under the corner of the magic carpet. What’s the value or purpose of magic in fiction?

A Drift of Quills: The Purpose of Magic

Magic—what’s the value or purpose of magic in fiction? This month A Drift of Quills is taking a peek under the corner of the magic carpet. Naturally, we’re talking about why we, as authors of fantasy, write about magic.

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folksSince we were wee sprouts we’ve been enchanted (punny, right?) by stories about magical beans, geese, unicorns, dragons, kings, gingerbread houses, swords, ships, and all kinds of diverse things. Magic opens the doors to new ideas, exciting places, amazing people. It encourages our imaginations and broadens our horizons. Best of all, it allows us to step out of the mundane, lift our heads, and engage in wonder.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein

Magic in fantasy is a feast for the eyes, a symphony of the senses. Anything is possible. Charles de Lint said something absolutely profound about magic and life:

I do believe in an everyday sort of magic—the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we thing we’re alone.

This month A Drift of Quills is taking a peek under the corner of the magic carpet. What’s the value or purpose of magic in fiction? In my book As the Crow Flies, magic plays several roles. I like the complex depths that mix offers. I like the contrasts. In Crow’s life, it doesn’t have a particularly good reputation and his opinion isn’t improved when a wizard sends him on a suicidal mission. He comes up against more “bad” magic but… he also has an experience that affects his very notion of himself. His imagination is sparked; his horizon changes.

In the Mirror, a short story, encourages reflection of self. What choices have we made in the past, how have they impacted us, and how might we change our path in the future?

The story, The High Roads, focuses on talents and responsibilities. How do we use what we’ve got?

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Patricia RedingAuthor of Oathtaker and Select
Patricia’s website

Some of my earliest reading memories are of stories that included magic. I recall reading, over and over again, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett, and Mio, My Son, by Astrid Lindgren. Also, Bewitched was amongst my favorite television shows. When Samantha’s nose twinkled, you never knew what might happen next. Those tales engaged my imagination and sense of wonder. They moved me out from my world of cares and worries (such as they were as a child) and into another realm where anything was possible.

When a story engages my emotions, I’m involved. But when it also encourages my sense of wonder, I’m hooked. This is what magic does. It creates something I’ve never before seen, heard or felt. It makes me wonder, each step of the way, “what if…” (Read more!)

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What does “magic” in fantasy mean to you?
What book have you read that best illustrates the ideal magic?
Are you an author? What is the purpose and value of magic in your writing?

Comment below—then be sure to hop over and join my 2016 reading challenge!

Today A Drift of Quills goes on a short visual expedition, sharing pictures of the people, places, and things from our latest works.

A Drift of Quills: Picture This (#2)

Wow. This is the last first Friday of the month for this year! (Did I bend your brain with that?) Today A Drift of Quills will take you on a short visual expedition. We want to share with you pictures of the people, places, and things from our latest works.

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Levin Liam (in the movie "Wolfskinder")
Levin Liam (in the movie “Wolfskinder”)

For my person I’ve gone with the obvious choice: the main character. Sherakai’s tale begins when he is a youth, about fifteen years old. As the youngest of four boys, he’s got a pretty easy life. His father and his older brothers are warriors, and although he admires that, he has no inclination to follow in their footsteps. He’s not keen, either, on being sent away from horse and home to study at the faraway College of Magic. Of course nothing goes the way either Sherakai or his parents plan…

Photo by Alvarictus, via Flickr
Photo by Alvarictus, via Flickr

Sherakai’s beautiful home is located in rolling hills at the edge of the mountains. His father raises the Indimi-o per’la Tojitu there. The Children of the Wind are horses endowed with just a little bit of magic.

When Sherakai arrives at Nemura-o pera Sinohe—The Gates of Heaven—his life takes a turn down a dark path. His guardians, Fesh and Teth, look something like this:

Concept art from DMC: Devil May Cry
Concept art from DMC: Devil May Cry


Teeth clenched, Sherakai pushed the threads away, but it hurt as though he were tearing out parts of himself. The creatures howled, and Bairith’s voice rose above them, his spell-weaving become a command. Desperately, Sherakai reversed his actions and tried to pull the threads back into himself. He had more success at that, but the creatures came to their feet, writhing as they tried to escape the hands on their heads. Their howls increased to very human screams. The guards crouched next to them, wrapping arms around the distorted bodies to hold them immobile. A third guard moved behind Sherakai, clamping a hand around his throat and applying steady pressure.

Today A Drift of Quills goes on a short visual expedition, sharing pictures of the people, places, and things from our latest works.As consciousness began to fade, the tugging renewed and the dog beasts quieted. Darkness edged his vision, but it could not blanket the helpless sense of violation.

“There,” the mage said at last. He released Sherakai’s hands and gently stroked the animals’ misshapen heads. “There, it is done. All is well. Hush, hush …”

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Author of Oathtaker and Select
Patricia’s website

As we are approaching this holiday season, with all the “busy-ness” that it entails, it seemed right to keep things a bit simple this time around. Thus, we’ve decided to share with you, pictures of our imagined people, places and things from our work.

For a picture of a person, I’m actually going to expand this definition to include a character that is not a person. That is “Bane,” from Select: The Oathtaker Series, Book Two. Bane is a wolf that Jerrett mistakenly takes for a dog. Because of his connection to the animal via his attendant magic, Bane assists Jerrett in an escape . . .

… (Read more!)

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This is how we see our stories, and we hope these pictures pique your interest in the tales!

A Drift of Quills delves into ruling the world: What things or words can our magic worlds not include?

A Drift of Quills: Ruling the World!

Welcome to the Friday Feature of our Fantasy writers group, A Drift of Quills! I have sad news: Kristie has bowed out, but hopefully we will see her again soon. We will miss her amazing perspective, but wish her the best in all she does.

Today we’re delving into world-building trickiness:

As writers, what rules do you follow (if any) of “things” your magic world can/cannot include, or the “words” your world can or cannot use?

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

On the surface, asking about the things or words my world can or cannot include sounds fairly straightforward. I am, after all, the Grand Architect. But who knew how complicated that job would be? Perhaps the first element is easiest to address. Since mine is an epic fantasy setting (You’re surprised, right?), it won’t have guns, cars, spaceships or most things common to our modern world. Tairenth has elves, but no orcs or kobolds. I have not yet met a dwarf there, but I suppose there’s a possibility. A Drift of Quills delves into ruling the world: What things or words can our magic worlds not include?There are other strange creatures. There are dragons. There is unusual plant life. Most books of this kind seem to be based on a “medieval Europe” setting. I am trying to pull away from that, though not extremely so. What makes this really exciting for me is that my character, Sherakai, is a world traveler. I have the opportunity to stretch my virtual setting wings — what fun!

I am having a ball picking threads of one culture, changing them up a bit, and braiding them with others. In Sherakai’s homeland, where the first books of the series takes place, language is very loosely based on Japanese, the religion revolves around a thirteen-god pantheon, the climate and geography are somewhat Mediterranean.

What words can my world use or not? Again, since it is set in a time before the likely invention of guns, cars, spaceships, and such — it obviously won’t use words relating to what we view as a modern culture. But in this world there may be things our own world has no word for. One of the challenges of using languages, situations, or things is that overdoing it can become confusing to the reader. At the same time, using those very same items (when they are “foreign”) adds to the richness of the tapestry we are creating. It is a delicate balance. But these words — oh, the words! — are beautiful and amazing and so full of power. I love words and the way they can paint incredibly vivid pictures. What a wonderful creation language is!

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Author of Oathtaker
Patricia’s website

When I first started writing, I spent some time reading about what others had to say about the subject. I learned a couple of important things right up front: (1) no matter where you start, you’re in the middle—of something—so stop stalling and get started; and (2) there is nothing new under the sun, which means that even what we “create” is our manipulation of what we already know. I cannot, for example, create a new color. But, I can create the physical characteristics of new things, by changing up those things I (and my readers) already know. So, I decided . . .

… (Read more!)

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What books have you read that leave you marveling at the weave of word and setting? Share below!