Creating my system of Magic #NaNoWriMo #Preptober

This year I am re-writing my 2007 NaNo novel, Quest for Serentasia. There are a LOT of reasons for this, some of which are:

  • 2007 was my first NaNo, and my first attempt at anything longer than a short story. In ten years, my writing has improved in general.
  • I wasn’t nearly as mean to my characters as I need to be. In fact, 2008’s novel was written solely as an exercise in torturing a character. I killed my main character’s dad. Then I killed her, and her mom became the main character. I gave her depression and delusions related to the deaths of her husband and teen daughter. I made her paint when she couldn’t sleep because of the nightmares, but she would paint things like a bloody heart pierced by swords (classic Tarot imagery for the 3 of swords), and used this as my inspiration for realizing she’d had a miscarriage too that she never told anyone about. This time, I think I’m a lot better prepared to kill my darlings if needed.
  • I wrote a sequel in 2012 that introduced new characters, and I want to put them into this novel.
  • Most importantly, I didn’t have a system for the magic in the novel, and even as I was writing it I knew that I would need to define the magic before I could rewrite the novel. I didn’t define the magic for the sequel either.
  • There is a lot of dumb stuff that needs to be removed, even if I love the characters. I took on a couple NaNoWriMo dares that were fun to write, but have no place in the final story.

I decided it was finally time to write a new draft, but first I needed to come up with a system of magic that I can use as part of my Story Bible. I may or may not rewrite the sequel, but having a system will make this book much stronger. I took into consideration Sanderson’s Laws of Magic, but ultimately decided I needed a list of questions that, in answering them, would lead to a full, fleshed-out system of magic that would ultimately follow Sanderson’s Laws anyway. There are a lot of web pages and articles and books that would potentially help, but I settled on this questionnaire.

I filled in the questionnaire, and skipped around and came back to questions, and it took me several days to get a version I like. I took into consideration what I want my characters to be able to do, and what I need in the novel to stop or stall them. I thought about my villain character, and what I need him to do, and what could explain him not being defeated already, and what makes sense as far as why this time is different, why this time he will be defeated.

And I thought about how the magic is actually done. I don’t want magic wands like Harry Potter, but I also don’t want my characters to be gesturing, such as with a nose twitch (Samantha), a pointed finger (Sabrina), or a head nod (Jeannie). I thought about how I want to incorporate the elements, but it’s not fair if characters have to be near their element to do magic – then my air element fairy could always do magic, but my fire element fairy would have to carry around matches or something? No, that won’t work. So then I need a different source for their magic that could potentially lose power either partially or completely.

I am not going to post details here, but I am pretty much done now. I’m so glad I spent this time figuring things out before November, because the writing is definitely going to be easier. On to character sketches and plot outlining!