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July 20th, 2006

11:26 pm: Creating high-magic worlds
This essay suggestion had an unfair advantage, admittedly, because I was considering it a few weeks back. But, oh, well, them’s the breaks.

Magic as technology, rather than science )

I think the next one will be on creating a world via extrapolations from deep changes from Earth, because that sounds interesting.

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September 4th, 2005

04:07 pm: Rant on elemental magic
For [info]cinnamonical, the first of two rants she asked for after she donated. I make fun of this system of magic a lot, so let’s see what I can make of it beyond that.

Elementary elementalism )

And next is handling a large cast of viewpoint characters, also for [info]cinnamonical.

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July 28th, 2005

07:15 pm: Having a sense of mystery in your magic
The “keeping magic mystical” rant. Since I’ve already done rants on understandable, rule-filled, kind-of-scientific systems of magic and the pitfalls I’ve seen with them, here’s some advice in the opposite direction.

Scientific magic people, stay away! )

That rant was hard, because it goes so much against my own inclinations. *whines*

And now I have to do a rant on creating a sense of the forbidden next. *whines again*

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July 7th, 2005

07:07 pm: Limitations on magic rant
“If anything is possible, nothing is interesting.” I firmly believe that, and it’s the reason that I’m even bothering with this rant at all. While I don’t think every magical system needs 100 pages of breathlessly complicated rules that would make a Rosicrucian happy, I want limitations. Those are different from sheer “rules.” Rules for magic show the effort the author’s put into worldbuilding. Limitations on magic prevent the author from using too little effort, and trying to pass moldy toilet paper off as a story.

We’re off to the races )

Comments to comments coming, when I get a chance to answer them.

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June 21st, 2005

09:04 pm: Ten alternatives to genetic magic
And it’s the ‘ten alternatives to writing genetic magic’ rant! Aren’t you excited?

For the purposes of the rant, I’m defining “genetic magic” as: inborn, inherited magical talent, where the protagonist got it through a family line, perhaps a distant ancestor (very common), or was simply “born” with it (often done when the author doesn’t want to deal with a whole magical family). I often dislike it because the author wants to exalt the protagonist as special, but I don’t consider a person special just because she was born with magic, any more than I consider someone special just because she’s tall or got blue eyes. It’s what’s done with the talent that counts.

Ten alternatives, and most of them have even been done before… )

Sorry for not answering comments, but I have to run; I’ll do it later.

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June 19th, 2005

07:26 pm: Writing fantasy without magic
Yes, before we start, just in case, I do believe it’s possible to write fantasy without magic, I don’t consider it an essential requirement of the genre, I don’t think that any novel set in another world but not using magic is therefore “historical,” blah blah blah. If you’re dead-set on convincing me that this isn’t true, save your keystrokes. I’m simply not going to agree. A novel set in a world with invented history, invented people, invented countries, and so on can be fantasy. It doesn’t have to be alternative history (particularly if it’s not closely based on an Earth country), and it doesn’t have to be science fiction (particularly if it doesn’t deal closely with science and the effects of science on human lives). Neither do we have to make up a whole new genre label just for these books.

So. What happens when you take away the magic but write in another world? I’ll be discussing that below. (I suppose there could be a way to write urban fantasy without magic, but as I can’t think of what then would separate it from a mainstream or mystery novel set in a city, I don’t discuss it).

Fantasy without magic )

A poll on ideas for the next rant will be up shortly.

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May 29th, 2005

03:48 pm: Magic education rant
The mage education rant, once again focused on training a protagonist in ways that will not trigger my automatic KILL reaction.

Fantasy education: Magic )

“Magical training” really should be magical training as often as possible, not just an excuse for random episodes of platitude prattle in between the protagonist flinging fireballs, meeting her one true love, and saving the world from the Dark Lord. *pokes books like that*

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March 14th, 2005

09:06 pm: Fortune-telling rant
For when you just want to toss those crystal balls down the stairs and watch them shatter into their component parts.

Fortune-telling, a.k.a stronghold of plot-cheating and a lot of clichés )

Next poll will be up in a little while.

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November 22nd, 2004

09:41 am: Magical object rant
For [info]zekk_skywalk, who asked about magical objects. I did a quest rant, but not all magical objects are Quest Objects.

Which doesn’t stop them from being annoying )

Hee. That was fun.

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October 29th, 2004

03:48 pm: Rant on necromancy
This deals mostly with clichés of fantasy, as usual, rather than individual things that authors have done or what necromancy was originally.

Are you a good necromancer, or a bad necromancer? )

Rant the next shall concern ghosts.

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August 21st, 2004

06:04 pm: Special ability rant
I would have said, a little while ago, that I have a low opinion of characters with special abilities, but that’s not true. I have a low opinion of the way that most authors handle them.

Better ways of handling them )

I’ve grown more and more allergic to heroes with special abilities. Too often, it seems as though the story were written for the ability, not the hero.

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March 23rd, 2004

05:49 pm: Inspired by <lj user
This one is on human/human empathic bonds, and especially the "soulmate" thing.

It's perhaps no surprise to anyone that I hate these )

This is another idea that could have a lot done with it, just like the telcom idea, but authors are content to rest on their clichés and portray endless rose-colored love-bonds.

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