Life is busy. That’s an extreme understatement. Over the last sevenish months I haven’t been making any time for writing, which was extremely unfortunate. So as my added fourth goal for 2017, I vowed to spend one hour a week on writing. I didn’t do so well through January (I wrote a little bit here and there near the end of the month, plus built that chatbot, which took quite a bit of writing initially). But it’s the beginning of a new month, which means time for a new start.
I started out by writing down an idea I had for a 10 minute play. There’s a theater event called 10×10 here in Thunder Bay which I went to a writing workshop for back in 2015. I didn’t submit anything that year (I was dealing with sorting out my NaNoWriMo blob around that time) and hadn’t really thought much about it since then. But then I had a random idea from work that I wanted to get onto paper. It’s way too late to work on anything for this year (the deadline was back in January), but maybe I’ll get this into shape in time to submit it for next year. We’ll see! It will definitely need a lot of work (and an ending!)
After that, I also finally tweaked my Imezza and Faeriia docs to reflect the work I did on Imezzan magic back in December. Faeriia was an easy edit – the magic on that world will not use the basic elements at all now so I just had to take any reference to that idea out. Imezzan magic is going to be the one dealing with the elements now because it’s way more appropriate there.
I have to say, I’m very happy to have taken the time to do this writing, even though it’s really not a whole lot.
I think my next project is to work on a short story. There’s a local writing contest coming up that I would like to enter. And that would go hand in hand with my goal to write some polished short stories this year!
I’m going to admit, I’m not really a “systems” or “rules” sort of person. I’ve always preferred a good story, and never really cared about how exactly the magic works. Which left me in a bit of an awkward spot when I realized that magic is an extremely important component of City of the Dead. So during this last #WriteFriday, I spent a huge chunk of time trying to think through the magic system of the world.
To that end, I needed some help. So I went online and found a couple of great articles to get me started. There were three in particular that I found really helpful:
- Janice Hardy’s Do You Believe in Magic? Building a Magic System for Your World
- Brandon Sanderson’s First Law
- Sanderson’s Second Law
(I also found Sanderson’s Third Law of Magic, but that was after I was done working on City of the Dead for the night).
Sanderson’s First two Laws were great for helping me think through the beginnings of my magic system. Do I want it to be a soft magic system? Hard magic? Somewhere in between? What will people be able to do with this system? What are its limitations? By the end of the night (and with some help from my friend Scott, who let me bounce some ideas off of him), I had a basic system that I was rather happy with. Of course now, I’m going to have to rethink through some of the setting pieces, which no longer work.
On a related note, that Apocalypse Madness story I wrote for January no longer works either.
Hardy’s article likewise had some great advice for starting off, but didn’t go into as much depth as Sanderson did. So I definitely recommend starting with Sanderson’s laws. But once you’re past the initial stuff, Hardy gives you some great questions to think through how magic will work in both your larger world and your story.
If you’ve found any other articles to be helpful when designing magic systems (or have your own tips), please post them in the comments! I’d love to see what other people have to say on the subject.