Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Magical Objects

Today's post is about magical objects. Every fantasy story has a magical object, or two, or a dozen if the book is about a boy wizard and his friends.

Tolkien had the one ring to rule them all!

J.K. Rowlings had the cloak of invisibility, the deathly hallows, the time turner, and so many other objects.

David Eddings had Aldur's Orb - if you haven't read The Belgariad or The Mallorean series, please do so. These are great epic fantasies. I reread them every few years.

These authors each had some type of magical object in their fantasy series.

So, why I am posting about magical objects? Well, I have an idea for a modern day fantasy - perhaps epic, perhaps not so much. It's just in the idea phase right now, so I have no idea what, or if, this might develop into at some point in the future. I'm not psychic, after all.

Anyhow, I need a magical object, I know I need a magical object, and I just can't figure out the identity of the magical object, or its powers, or, or, or, or . . .

Yes, I've hit a wall with this dratted magical object that will become the source of conflict in this fantasy that I will write one day in the future.




So, I've been thinking a lot about this mysterious magical object and came up with some questions to help me, and other aspiring fantasy writers, out:
  • What is the magical object?
  • What does it do?
  • How does it do it?
  • Why is it important?
  • What happens if it is . . . lost? forces of evil gain control of it? it is destroyed?
  • What is the big even that will/won't happen without this magical object?

Those were the basic questions I began to ask myself as I pondered the identity of this mysterious magical object that will be at the core of my fantasy novel.

As I pondered these questions, I realized that many authors before me, and many after me, had/will ponder(ed) this same question. Did they have a cheat sheet to help them? Did they stumble along like I did, searching, gasping for air, and hoping against hope that the answer would just appear in their dreams? Okay, my answer didn't appear in my dreams, just in case you're wondering.

Probably not. Those authors probably stumbled along, just as I have, as I still am (for the most part, though I have an idea or two about the object now), until they were able to work out the logistics in their mind about the magical object necessary for their stories. They probably didn't have the handy-dandy cheat sheet to help them figure out the identity of their magical objects.

Life might have been a bit easier (then again, it might not have been) with a handy-dandy cheat sheet like I created in the depths of my pondering.

So, I give you the above questions to help in the discovery of any magical objects your characters might need in future, or current, writings.

Lastly, as seems the case with blogs, there are questions, mainly for any fantasy writers out there . . .

What is your process in coming up with a magical object? Is it more in-depth than mine? Pretty much the same? How do you ultimately decide on the perfect object? Is it a wand? A cloak? A magical sword? A book? A hat? A pair of jeans? An ever full pitcher of margaritas? An orb? A crystal ball? A magical watch? A . . .


Robyn Campbell said...

Sheesh, I write adventure. What IS with all this fantasy? Ivy wishes I wrote fantasy. She wishes I wrote Tricia's series starting with The Emerald Tablet. But I write adventure. And get this! We don't need no magical object.

Good luck, uh, fantasy writer. I hope you find your magic.

Scott said...

Robyn - don't you have snow to shovel or something??? : ) Normally, I'm commercial and/or contemporary, maybe a bit of literary, fiction. I love epic fantasy. I don't love the stuff that's being called fantasy right now. So, ya don't love it, ya right something you do love is my philosophy. And to go with my rebel persona, I'm doing it my way! Ha!

Michelle said...

I don't write fantasy, but three of the other Slushbusters do, and all three have a magical object in their stories. We've had to help tweak the magical objects from time to time when they behaved "out of character".

I'd say it has to fit the world you've built, and do something relevant to the story. You wouldn't want to read about Frodo if he'd had a diamond tennis bracelet that improved his game, but that might work in a modern day sports story. Beyond that, it can be anything you like.

Marybeth Poppins said...

YOu should make a magical margarita pitcher!

WindyA said...

I like Marybeth's idea! Or maybe a magical Margarita blender??

Davin Malasarn said...

Great post! For your story, perhaps a cell phone or an iPod? Since it's modern day.

I wrote a fantasy story for my nephew as a Christmas present, and I had to deal with these same questions. I realized that, besides character and story, this idea of world building, including the magical object, was also important in fantasy books. I wasn't as systematic as you, though. I just pondered and pondered until I came across things I liked. :)

Scott said...

Michelle - thanks. Modern world with perhaps a jaunt or two to another world. Yes, the story is just in the very initial stages, so nothing is set in stone. Oh, and I think Frodo with a tennis bracelet would have been fine and dandy . . . not, but thanks for the visual.

Marybeth - a margarita pitcher that's alwasy full. Hmmmm . . . or, a place where you only pay $5 for unlimited margaritas. Wait, there's one of those in FL, where I'll be at the end of next week. Woo-hoo! Let the magic begin!

Windy - great minds think alike.

Davin - I've pretty much figured out the magical object, just not what it does. I guess that's important. Yes, world building in fantasy is more than the planet (i.e., world), which is maybe why I've shied away from fantasy before now . . . and maybe will again. I do like the idea of a cell phone or IPod as a magical device. Just think of the apps!!

ElanaJ said...

This is why fantasy is so freaking hard. I tried writing a fantasy novel once. It was hard. I switched to dystopian, and that's been easier for me.

But your questions are amazing. And when I get back to fantasy, cuz I will, I'll have this post to help me.

Scott said...

Elana - I'm glad this post will help put another book by you on my Kindle! : ) Well, once your first one gets on my Kindle! I've written fantasy before, come up with magical objects, and all without a problem. This time was a bit different. I've now got the object, I just have no idea what it does, how it does it, or if even my idea is totally workable. Arrrgghhh! : )