novel with me, Writing group

Novel With Me- Magic System

Hey everyone, and welcome to Novel With Me! The series which takes you on a journey from start to finish.

Today we’re going to tackle the magic system. I’m going to lay it out as simply as I can for you guys, because it can get really complicated. Breaking it down though, you can create a simple magic system by answering just four questions. You can answer these with as much detail as you like. The more detail of course, the more in depth your system will be.

If you’re looking for a little more detail on what I’m talking about today, you can watch the corresponding video here.

Now lets make some magic!

The great thing about magic is that it doesn’t exist, so you can pretty much do whatever you want. It still needs to make sense within the confines of your novel though, so keep that in mind.

There are four simple questions to ask when creating a magic system-

Where does it come from?

Who uses it?

What are the limitations?

What is the culture?

These form the absolute basic foundations of your system. Perfect for a first draft, and just enough to build on during revisions, without the fear of massive plot holes. Lets go into them in a little more detail.

Yes, I’m going to ask some questions.

Where does it come from? 

Does it come from nature, the users energy, items?

How does it manifest? What does it look like?

How is it controlled?

  • Incantations
  • Hand gestures
  • Written symbols
  • Focus
  • Rituals
  • Sacrifice
  • Object

Who uses it?

Are magic users rare or common?

Do you need magical ability to use magic?

How do magic users receive their magic?

  • Born with it
  • Trained
  • Bestowed upon them
  • Ritual
  • Deal with a supernatural entity

What are the limitations?

What stops magic uses from being able to use magic?

Is magical energy limited?

  • Finite resources
  • Affects the user
  • Requires sacrifice
  • Requires an object

What can’t be done by magic?

  • Range of effect
  • Length of effect
  • Limited by focus
  • Limited by stamina

What is the culture?

Is it a secret society, or well known?

Is there a specific community or religion tied to it?

How are magic users regarded by society?

  • Hidden from society
  • Admired
  • Feared
  • Hated

All magic needs to have a set of rules, and you need to make sure that you always abide by these rules, or show the consequences when people don’t.

All aspects of magic all affect other aspects, so make sure all answers to your questions fit together. If magic requires a sacrifice, don’t have your magic user cast a spell without one.

I hope this helps with building the foundations to your magic system.

Good thoughts and happy writing


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