This week: Magic Connects All Human CulturesEdited by: Annette
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Dear fantasy writers and readers,
The inclusion of unbelievable things and magic have helped storytellers to enchant audiences since the dawn of time. There is no reason to let your magic be limited if it's something that can't be limited to begin with.
Magic Connects All Human Cultures
Humans all around the world and from every culture have used magic in their stories. From creation myths to etiologic explanations for the way the world works and all the way through destruction and reconstruction stories, magic is always present because it taps into the universal belief humans hold that everything can and will be alright.
One of the oldest stories that was ever etched into a clay tablet, the Lugalbanda from Mesopotamia is full of magic. Anzu, half eagle and half lion shows up in Sumerian and Akkadian literature and sculptures. He was so important that kings wanted their life stories made more fantastical by featuring interactions with Anzu. Lugalbanda gained favor with the adult Anzu bird when he fed his chick and made him appear regal by decorating his eyes with kohl and making him smell good by dabbing cedar scent on his head. In another tale, Anzu is a wicked figure who steals the Tablet of Destinies to turn back time. If you thought time travel or time bending was something new, think again. 3500 BCE was the time to bend time.
Storytellers use magic as an element of their stories to keep the audience involved. Greek epics are practically littered with magic at every corner. Mortal human heroes keep running into magical creatures that they have to overcome. When the Ancient Greek audiences went home from listening to the stories, their minds had been filled with rich images of nymphs, sirens, a cyclops, and a hero who overcomes all. Nobody could ever hear the sirens sing in real life, but they could all attempt to be the best version of themselves in an attempt to be like Odysseus.
Modern audiences know that the world is not created and maintained or ruled by magic. Science has forced magic to follow scientific-like rules. Modern magic is usually something that needs to be learned. A person who is able to wield magic has to learn how to use a wand and speak specific incantations to create magic. Harry Potter spent all of his middle school learning witchcraft with a wand. Young Adult fiction usually includes at least one type of magical thing. It could be that the main character is a fairy. It could be that vampires and werewolves are real. Those type of stories have sold millions of books, proving that magic really is a crowd pleaser.
There seem to be so many rules to writing fantasy that it can be quite frustrating. Fantasy, by definition, is fiction. How can it even have rules? But since we're here:
Does your magic follow any rules?
Let me know in the comment box below.
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Replies to my last fantasy newsletter "Real World Themes"
Quick-Quill wrote: I think writing fantasy is just a grown up way of dealing with the fairy tales we grew up with. After all Grimm and Aesop's fables were what we loved to read, now we just add some bondage and a dragon or two. It's still a story of good vs evil.
Good versus evil is what it's all about.
BIG BAD WOLF wrote: Best thing about fantasy - you can do anything you want. That being said, every now and then, you get someone who is overly critical.
So true. I hate it when somebody tells me in a review that some fantasy plot that I write could never work because bla bla bla. It's fantasy. It's not real. Duh.
Beholden wrote: Thank you so much for including my Dragon Poem in the Editor's Picks.
Thank you for writing fantasy that I can include in my newsletters.
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