Is it okay to write about magic?

Forums Fiction Research and Worldbuilding Is it okay to write about magic?

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #98446
    Corine
    @corine

      <p style=”text-align: left;”>Hello! I’m having a few doubts and I’m hoping I can find some answers here.</p>
      I’m in the midst of plotting a novel in which magic is very much part of the plot and conflict. However this morning when reading my Bible I came across a verse calling satan “the prince of the power of the air.” (Eph. 2:2)

      Now this sparked spiralling for me because my story uses elemental magic (and the main character has air magic) but it did lead me to thinking: what are the reasons why we find it okay to write about magic?

      Because it’s fiction and thus an entirely new world? Because it’s not meant to be like our world and not bound to our world’s laws? Even though ‘magic’ in ‘real-life’ is associated with demon worship etc?

       

      Just interested to hear what your opinions are 🙂

      #98451
      EricaWordsmith
      @ericawordsmith

        @corine

        I love this topic… I really love this question.

        So magic… I could say so much about this.

        To start off I’ll give my background with magic and why I think we need to be really careful of it, and then I’ll explain how I do believe it can be used.

        When I was 12 I had an unpleasant experience with a friend who took magic way too seriously (and just as a side note, remember she was 12 too, so it wasn’t Wicca, it just wasn’t good). Eventually I had to part ways with her because of her fascination with it. This left me very scarred with magic, and it took me a while to understand why I could say Narnia and LOTR was O.K. and other magic stories weren’t. As a fantasy writer I had to learn how to understand what magic is and the worldview behind it.

        Side Note: My favorite definition of good magic would probably go to The Wingfeather Saga. If you haven’t read it you must read it at some point.

        So… How I like to explain this would be to look at our own reality. We live in a world where there are powers of good and evil. Just because we don’t see things doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I often times think we’re sleepwalking through life without ever understanding that we’re in a dream and the reality is going on just beyond our sight. I’m a music major, so I will compare magic to music for a moment… Think about how music can move us in ways that we wouldn’t expect. How songs can make us cry without us understanding why, or we just feel that we can’t keep from dancing. I believe there’s power in music. Last night me and a friend went to a racquet ball room and she just stood there listening to me sing. It was honestly a magical experience because the acoustics were so enchanting. It was like we were under a spell… I honestly feel like a lot of the time, we miss the “magic” that goes on around us all the time. As the Wingfeather books say, I believe this world is pulsing with magic, but we don’t recognize it.

        But how do we define magic? That to me is the key…

        When I say something is magical, I honestly use that word to describe the beauty and joy that God has filled this world with. Yes, it is a broken world, but it is still brimming with the fingerprints and breath of God. He gives us so many blessings and I think much of the time we never stop to really see it. (Pause, go listen to Andrew Peterson’s Don’t You Want To Thank Someone?. That sums up what I’m trying to say pretty well). I wish there was a different word for the way that beauty can move us… C. S. Lewis called it Joy. Some might call it magic for lack of a better word… In my own books, I have a word that basically means life/meaning/joy/blood and sums all this up.

        Now, for the other definition of magic… It means power. To me, when using this magic, it all has to do with where the power comes from. If it comes from the source of all power, the one who defines right and wrong, then I believe this is an accurate picture of reality and points back to God. I would say this is appropriate magic to use. And on the flip side, I also think that it is good to portray the other side of the powers. In our own world there are powers to do not come from God, fallen demonic powers that are evil because they are not of light and they defy God. I believe we should portray this as well in our writings. But I think in a nutshell, when writing magic, it all has to do with how we portray and define all this power. If it is a picture of truth and light, then I believe we can use magic and it can very powerfully paint a picture of what reality is, and even help to wake us up to ponder what reality might be there just beyond our sight. But if we create a window that opens our readers minds to the seduction of the darkness that does exist… I believe this is playing with fire.

        Also, remember that when writing fantasy, you have creative liberties to show truth in a new light. fantasy is a very powerful tool to show truth, or deliver a skillfully dressed lie. I would have a lot more to say on this… but I don’t have time right now.

        I would suggest that to anyone who wonders how to use magic, first read a lot of scripture on spiritual reality. Then pray about it and find out what you believe you can write. Lastly, don’t be afraid to just experiment and develop fantasy cultures/and realities, but always prayerfully and with great discernment.

        If you have any more questions let me know, I would love to come back to this to think about it a little more deeply. I love this topic… I hope that some of what I said was coherent. XD Let me know what you think! I could potentially also take a while to get back to you, but I will try to get back as soon as possible!

        Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

        #98453
        R.M. Archer
        @r-m-archer

        what are the reasons why we find it okay to write about magic? Because it’s fiction and thus an entirely new world? Because it’s not meant to be like our world and not bound to our world’s laws? Even though ‘magic’ in ‘real-life’ is associated with demon worship etc?

        Personally, my answer to this is just “yes.” In fantasy, it’s a completely separate world and thus doesn’t have the same source by default. Obviously, in the real world, power is either from God or from Satan. (That’s a little imprecise, since everything was created and is overseen/allowed/etc. by God so technically it’s not from Satan, but the phrasing works for these purposes. :P) It’s either good or it’s bad, and evil magic cannot be good. In a fantasy world, though, we the authors get to decide what magic’s source is. In most of my worlds it’s a natural part of the world, to be harnessed for good or for evil, more of a science and a tool than what real-world magic is (supernatural and spiritual), just something we don’t have on earth. Personally, I think that’s the safest way to portray it.

        But I do think it can be beneficial to show more real-world magic (very, very carefully) to illustrate the difference between light and dark, too, it’s just something I think should be prayed over extensively and done with a lot of care to portray it truthfully and expose it as what it is.

        And I think that with both approaches there’s a measure of personal preference and conviction. Beyond the facts that the Bible should be the basis for our decision and we shouldn’t glorify the sort of demonic magic that exists in the real world, I don’t think there’s a completely one-size-fits-all approach to writing magic in fiction.

        But I’m also really interested to hear what others think. 🙂

        Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

        #98458
        Corine
        @corine

          @ericawordsmith @r-m-archer

          Thank you both for your replies! I really appreciate it 🙂

          So something I feel both of you are stressing very much is that the way in which magic is represented is more important than whether or not it is present in the story. This to me makes sense: it’s a pretty nice parallel with real-word ‘grey areas’, in which the heart behind a matter is often much more important than the actual matter itself.

          Also, as you pointed out, a made-up world has made-up laws of nature. I suppose I’m just concerned about making sure there is a clear distinction between depicting my fictional magic, and the demonic ‘magic’ that is declared sinful in the Bible.

          But if we create a window that opens our readers minds to the seduction of the darkness that does exist… I believe this is playing with fire.

          What ways do you suggest for ensuring that we don’t lead others into sin with our writing? I suppose that’s making it a rather broad question but I do think it’s really important to address. Obviously, as writers, we want to represent the world in a realistic, accessible way and that often includes depicting darkness and evil. So what do you do to make sure you’re not causing a fellow, possibly less mature, believer to stumble?

          With magic I assume that would include precautions like not incorporating detailed step-by-step rituals or spells?

          Thanks for your replies!

          #98491
          R.M. Archer
          @r-m-archer

          Also, as you pointed out, a made-up world has made-up laws of nature. I suppose I’m just concerned about making sure there is a clear distinction between depicting my fictional magic, and the demonic ‘magic’ that is declared sinful in the Bible.

          I think this is generally pretty doable just through showing it in the context of your world. Just mentioning that certain characters were born with magical abilities, or hinting at how magic works (in one of my worlds–which is actually sciantasy rather than pure fantasy; it’s set far in the future–magic is more of a living organism permeating the atmosphere, which occasionally chooses human hosts, thus granting them super-human abilities. I haven’t necessarily stated that that’s how it works, but it’s particularly strongly hinted at in the later books of the series when “magic” is being exploited and manually given to people, and it’s a very genetic/biology-related thing (though in very un-sciency terms, because I’ve never been a very sciency person. XD). That excessively long explanation to say: just showing/hinting at how your world works will often help clarify things for your readers. 🙂

          Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

          #98506
          Princess Foo
          @princess-foo

          @corine Jumping into this discussion, I think the most important thing to avoid potentially encouraging people to sin would be to make it unlike demonic “magic” in this world. Things like blood rituals, human/animal sacrifices, and appealing to a dark patron as the source of the powers. Or, if you have them, you should portray them as wrong.

          In this world, we have people claiming to be mediums. You could buy a “spell book” off Amazon that, although I have not actually looked at things like this, I am guessing likely to be interactions with demons. Thats “playing with fire”. Demons and the things they do that look like “magic” should not be messed with.

          I think that stories like the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which are about interacting with the devil and gaining power from him, are very harmful and likely to bring people to sin. But something like Harry Potter, which is full of magic but has nothing that easily leads to let-mess-with-demons, is perfectly fine.

          The cake is a lie. acaylor.com

          #98507
          Jenna Terese
          @jenwriter17

          @corine I’ve wondered about this a lot too. Here’s an article that might help you: http://kingdompen.org/magic-fantasy-and-the-christian-writer/

          "If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write." -Martin Luther
          www.jennaterese.com

          #99159
          EricaWordsmith
          @ericawordsmith

            @corine

            I so meant to reply to this… but I kept forgetting when I was at the keyboard. *Facepalms*

            ANYWAY!!

            Yes, absolutely. I think it is totally fine to have a world that works differently from ours, but just so long as we know that the power isn’t representing how demonic powers work in our own world. I believe there should be an ultimate power source that defines right and wrong (at the very least). I would be very squeamish about powers that have a black/white side.

            Well… As far as how to portray evil power in particular…

            Some tips I would give personally (and this is once again something to pray over and decide where you stand on).

            Don’t spell out the spells, yes. Be very careful with spells… I won’t say never use them, but I will say that I personally would never use them in a good light (just in my own fiction).
            Don’t be too graphic. This sort of rides off what I said in the first tip, but just beyond spells be careful of the details that you use.
            Be careful of the fact that magic is seductive, so be extremely cautious of where your characters get their powers especially.
            Always try to point your reader to truth of our own world.
            I wish I had more specifics, but all I can really say is to know what you believe, why you believe it, and to spend a lot of time praying and reading Scripture. This will help you tremendously as you set up your world in light of truth. I hope this is helpful!!

            Tek an ohta! Tek an cala!

            #99220
            Sarah Inkdragon
            @sarah-inkdragon

            @corine

            Alright. *cracks knuckles*

            Okay, so first off, I’m just going to give a total disclaimer – I love magic in books. So yes. I’m a big fan of good implementation of magic in all it’s properties in books and movies.

            But now, let’s crack down on exactly what ‘good implementation’ means. First off – magic, defined by the wonderful internet: “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces”. Obviously, this is written from a real-world point of view, which doesn’t always apply to fantasy. For one, in fantasy it is often not ‘apparently’ influenced by magic, but is influenced by magic. So for this discussion, we’re just going to call magic the “ability to change the natural order of things by using an inherited or learned power”.

            But how does this apply to fantasy? Well, obviously real-world magic is evil. In fact, real-world magic is probably one of the scariest things I can think of, and should be avoided at all cost. Now, I don’t think that this means we should entirely avoid writing about magic in a real world setting – but if we’re going to draw the line that this is a absolute reality that we live in, we also need to draw the line and clarify that this magic is purely black and evil. There is no good real-world magic – anything called this is either a miracle from God or demonic forces.

            Fantasy, on the other hand, is not real life, and need not be dictated by real life, except in moral and ethical concepts – you cannot change an absolute truth, no matter the universe, but you can change the mechanics of the universe. Does that make sense? Basically, all I’m saying is that in a fantasy universe – murder should always remain evil, but magic can be added to the actual mechanics of the world and how things work, just like we have gravity and air resistance. If it is not brought in by an evil force, and governed/controlled/gained from an evil force – you can make magic good. The problem is when people take the real-world magic, which comes from an evil source, and attempt to change it to a good force in fiction, which is impossible as it is an absolute truth that real-world magic is evil. You can even have magic that comes from an evil source in your books – but you must eventually differentiate between the evil and the good and make the reader/characters realize that this is indeed evil. I have a story in progress where the protagonist tries to learn magic for about half the book, and then is shown/realizes that magic is evil. The area from which you draw the source of power from determines whether the magic is good or evil – if it’s drawn from evil, it will always be evil in nature, even if it’s used for good. One good deed does not counteract the evil process in which you gain the power. If it’s drawn from good, it can be good – but also can be evil if used for evil. It’s man’s choice to decide what to do with the power, but the source will determine if it is truly good or evil. A good gift used for evil is evil, but an evil power used for good I believe is still evil.

            Hereditary magic, on the other hand, is slightly different. In most hereditary magic, its power level is not determined by the strength of spell/artifact/etc, but the user’s inherent ability and skill level. Take Avatar: The Last Airbender, for example. Both the good and evil forces use the same magic, and there is no differentiation between the use in power. This is true hereditary magic, in which magic is simply a tool just like inherent good eyesight or intelligence might be. It cannot be good or evil in itself unless it was originally received from a good or evil source. The magic can never truly be good or evil – the person makes all the decisions themselves, and simply uses magic as a tool to complete these tasks. Side does not increase, decrease, influence, or change the user’s inherent ability to use magic. Skill and natural talent are all that matter.

            In conclusion – decide the source of magic, in good or evil – and then be sure to differentiate between the two when using magic that is gained from an outside source and is not something the users were originally created with. If you use hereditary magic, you don’t need to differentiate between the magic’s own inherent standing on a moral scale unless it wasn’t something the bearers originally were created with – you need to define if the bearers are good or evil.

            So yeah. I hope this helped. 😉

            Veritas Nunquam Perit. (The truth never perishes.)

            - Seneca

          Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)

          You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

          Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

          Pin It on Pinterest