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Fantasy Writers

Fantasy Is NOT the Same Thing As Magic

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  • #142646
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    Well my friends, you probably saw this title, and are thinking “What is this crazy guy up to now?” Well, that would be an appropriate question, but let me dive head first into today’s topic anyway.

    It’s quite simple. Fantasy and Magic are two extremely different things, and they should not be confused or conflated with each other.

    Now, I figured that if I was going to write this up, then I might as well make a video too, so if you would rather watch me rant, then you can go to this link.

    Now, lets dive right into how exactly Fantasy and Magic are different and how the two seem to be confused, starting with some definitions:

    Definition of Fantasy According to Molding Minds (333k views on youtube): Imaginary, Pretend, or Make Believe, but it isn’t just fiction, it contains unreal things that could not be real in our world, or are very much speculative and conjectured and not based in reality

    Wiki Definition of Fantasy: Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe or world

    Granted, a book in the real world with made up fantastical things is also technically a type of low fantasy. Some people take the fantasy universe or world aspect of the word fantasy so far as to make up a world, but have no fantastical elements in it, such as The Ranger’s Apprentice or The False Prince.

    Magic Wiki Definition: the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious (in the magician sense) or supernatural forces. People throw around word magic in card tricks and the things that good ol’ David Blaine does, but to be technically correct, those are illusions, seeing that they do not harness supernatural power. If they did harness supernatural power of course, then it would be magic/witchcraft.

    Webster: the use of means (such as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. In other words, harnessing or using supernatural power from a spiritual or sub-natural realm.

    According to Wiki (and this is mostly accurate): Most fantasy uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting.

    Magic System According to Wiki: A magic system, which might also be referred to as a magical system, is a set of rules that regulate the magical effects that can be produced in a fictional setting.

    Supernatural: Anything that is not in the natural realm of that world, things from a spiritual or sub-natural realm, such as demons, angels, little g gods, witchcraft, sorcery (or of course, anything that uses the word magic)

     

    Now that I’ve covered the definitions and uses, it should be clear that if the word magic is used, it means supernatural, not just fantastical, it means supernatural or demonic. So, let me elucidate further:

    If I write a fantasy book, that means there are fantastical elements in that book, and it is set in a world or universe (almost always anyway). What it does not mean is that magic is inherently in it, or any other supernatural elements.

    Now, if I use the word magic or magic system in a book, that means there must be some supernatural element at play. Somebody, or someone in that fantasy world is harnessing power from the spiritual or sub-natural realm.

    So, if I write a fantasy book, and in that fantasy world, people with a certain blood line can move rocks with their minds, that is not magic or supernatural, UNLESS I make it that way by using the word magic, and/or making it seem like dark arts or demonic powers are at play. If I write a fantasy book where all men can pick up mountains with superstrength, and I call it magic, that means I intend for a supernatural element to be at play, and that those men are harnessing power from a non-natural realm. To state my point one more time: If I make a fantasy world, and in that world there are fantastical abilities (such as shooting lightning from your hands), animals, or objects, those fantastical elements are NATURAL (not supernatural or sub-natural) to that world UNLESS I make them supernatural(power from the spiritual realm) by using the word magic, or witchcraft, or sorcery.

    With those examples, the differences should be clear, but you might be asking, Noah, why are you making this distinction with such avid vigor? Here’s why: Most fantasy books use the word magic, or even if they don’t, the readers still say that there is a magic system in that book. Because of this fact, I am trying to say two things, one to the authors, one to the readers:

    To the authors: Only use the word magic in your book if you mean for the elements in your book to be from the spiritual realm, to be supernatural, to not be part of that fantasy world’s natural world building. If you want your special elements to be part of the natural world, and to just be fantastical without being demonic/spiritual/supernatural, then DO NOT USE THE WORD MAGIC.

    To the readers: Don’t call the fantastical elements of that world the magic system, unless the stuff in that world is clearly supernatural (i.e, the author uses the word magic, or it feels very much like demonic arts are at work). This leads me into the phrase “magic system.” When a person says this, no matter what they think they are saying, what they are actually saying is there are supernatural and spiritual abilities or objects at work in the book. This is more exasperating than I can communicate to me, a person who does not want supernatural elements in a book he is reading or writing (for reasons I might get into another time). So, final word to readers, please don’t use the phrase magic system or word magic unless the book is using supernatural or spiritual abilities in the book.

    Now, I would like to make two claims here, that though I only have opinionated evidence for, I feel are true: First, I think that many times authors (and definitely readers) use the word magic when all they mean is the fantastical element or ability they created as a natural part of their world, I do not think they mean it is supernatural. Second, I think that using words like magic, sorcery, wizards, witchcraft, or the like, make a book seem trite, immature (I mean no offence to those of you who do have these things, so don’t go too hard on me xD), naive, and cheesier than your favorite dish of macaroni. Obviously, this is just my opinion, but not only do I not read books with magic (or those other supernatural things) because of religious reasons, I also think books with that are just plain out goofy and childish for adding supernatural elements in them in often corny ways (plus, as I said, it might be ignorance due to the fact that they don’t know what the word magic means, as I mentioned in my former point).

    Now, if I communicated my points fluently enough, it should be obvious that magic is not fantasy, and that if you use the word magic you are saying that there are supernatural elements in your book, and that those supernatural elements are not part of the natural world you spent so much time creating. I have also covered why this distinction matters to me (to stop confusion, religious reasons, and that it makes books childish and cheesy).

    To finish this off, I would like to state a call for action: Writers, please stop using the word magic, sorcery, witchcraft, or wizardry in your book unless you truly intend for the cool fantastical abilities, objects, and element you created in your world to be supernatural, and to be harnessing power from the non-natural realms. But if the supernatural fantasy is your goal, I would recommend you reconsider. I think it’s the cheap way out, it makes books weak, and is often childish. As for you readers, please stop using the phrase “magic system” in regard to books unless they clearly use magic and supernatural elements.  If some guy is shooting fire out of his eyes, but it is because some natural part of that world and the word magic is not used, then don’t call it the magic system, because it’s not, it’s a fantastical element or ability of that world, it’s the fantastical ability system, FAS if you would like.

    Hopefully I have made my points coherent enough. I appreciate you taking the time to read (or watch), let me know your thoughts on this subject, and if you agree or disagree with the opinions I stated at the end.

     

    #142647
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran
    #142649
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    First of all: Yes.

    Second of all: No. XD

    While your definition is accurate to the real world, and by those standards I fully agree that it’s a term that should be used carefully… your definition does not take into account change of use and meaning. Now, I would be willing to hear an argument that the meaning should not be changed since it’s a result of careless word usage. However. As it currently stands, the word “magic” is just as often used to refer to natural-in-fantasy powers that are supernatural to the real world and therefore carries that connotation just as much as (if not more than, to most fantasy readers) its original meaning. At this point, few writers mean it in its literal form, and this is understood by most readers. (As I said, though, an argument could be made that this is a problem since it’s come about due to careless usage.)

    I also don’t think that writing “magic” in the truly supernatural sense is inherently cheesy or lazy. Miracles, supernatural intervention, and even witchcraft can be portrayed—very, very, very carefully—for thematic purpose and to convey the world in its fullness. The spiritual realm is no less real for being invisible, and the same ought to be true of a fictional world. And when used with the appropriate level of care and thought and prayer, this is anything but cheesy or lazy. I don’t think we should portray magic in a cheesy or lazy manner, because it’s a very serious thing in the real world and ought also to be a very serious thing in fiction. But I don’t think that means we ought to discontinue its portrayal altogether.

    I would be curious how you would propose replacing the term “magic” when referring to natural-to-fantasy abilities in way that would catch on not only with writers but also with readers; no offense, but “fantastical ability system” is a bit of a mouthful and I’m not sure about the abbreviation… though the abbreviation part might just be me. It might also be interesting to question whether we even need such a term, since these abilities are natural to the fantasy world. Could we convince authors and readers to simply accept them as part of fantasy, without the need for a particular term? Or are we too tied to reality, ironically, to cease labeling those things that are different in a fantasy reality from things in our own? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? (That’s a bit tangential, but…)

    I definitely do agree as far as “magic” in the common sense being distinct from “magic” in the technical, real-world sense, since fantastical abilities in fantasy are usually an inherent part of the world. There’s little notable about them within the world, as far as actual ability goes; they perhaps ought to be seen more (by characters within the world) as an additional skill like woodworking or gardening; or perhaps even like a language, in the sense that they might be bewildering to someone encountering them for the first time.

    But anyway. Now my brain is really going off in another direction, so probably best for me to leave my rambling there. XD

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142650

    I don’t personally write fantasy or anything with magic, so I’ll leave this to be discussed by those of you who do. Though I do agree that they are not the same thing.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #142654
    Joelle Stone
    @joelle-stone

    THANK YOU NOAH

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Joelle Stone.

    "For love is strong as death." -God

    #142659
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    (gah, I wrote an initial post and then a server error had the site down some time before I tried to post)


    @noah-cochran
    I’m a linguistic descriptivist more than a prescriptivist, so I don’t believe it’s right to demand almost everyone else accede to your wishes of how a word’s used in the context of the fantasy genre. All the power to you if you want to start a campaign to “take back” the word magic, just I’m afraid I won’t be joining you =P We have enough miscommunication in the literary sphere as it is.

    Ideologically, I have zero issue with a fantasy book operating on a different theology to our world’s, so I’m afraid I’m not with you there either.

    Finally, I don’t think magic is inherently cheesy, goofy, cringy, or childish, and we’ll just have to chalk that up to differences in taste. Even if it was cheesy, I don’t think silliness or cheesiness preclude literary value. Dickens and Shakespeare were both intensely cheesy, and it’s hard to overstate the literary value of their works.

    I guess we just need to agree to disagree ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #142668

    Ahhhh …. A good point @noah-cochran

    I actually had a micro-conversation on this a few days ago. Basically, a friend asked me if there are any books with magic systems that are actually scientific in their world. And I responded with, yes, there are many, however, we generally use the term ‘magic’ as to would be what is magic in our world (even if its normal/science) in their world.

    I think it ties in with not making things too alien so readers can immerse themselves plausibly in the world/story, able to see the difference in that world (what makes it fantastical compared to ours) but not be pulled out at (too many) unfamiliar terms. That said, there are a few who do this well with their own systems – just I haven’t heard of a universal ‘fantastical ability system’ [name] that would refer to magic in our world, but a set of [natural laws] in their world.

    #142677
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @noah-cochran I may have found your word.

    “Enchantment produces a Secondary World, into which both designer and spectator can enter, to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside; but in its purity it is artistic in desire and purpose. Magic produces, or pretends to produce, an alteration in the Primary World. It does not matter by whom it is said to be practised, fay or mortal, it remains distinct from the other two; it is not an art but a technique; its desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’

    At any rate, whether the word “Enchantment” is a help or not, I thought this quote would be an interesting addition to the conversation.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142682
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @joelle-stone

    THANK YOU NOAH

    Joelle, I loved reading this, it made my day. 🙂 I’m glad we agree, we need to complain to each other about it sometime. 🙂 xD


    @olivia

    Thanks for the reply Olivia! I’m glad you were able to see the clear differences through my mess of a post. xD


    @r-m-archer

    However. As it currently stands, the word “magic” is just as often used to refer to natural-in-fantasy powers that are supernatural to the real world and therefore carries that connotation just as much as (if not more than, to most fantasy readers) its original meaning.

    This was essentially the main point I was trying to make. I agree that many writers use the word magic not even knowing that it clearly denotes supernatural (and clicheness, but I won’t go into that). However, just because that’s what they might (emphasis on might) think they are doing it does not change the fact that that is not what magic means.

    I also don’t think that writing “magic” in the truly supernatural sense is inherently cheesy or lazy. Miracles, supernatural intervention, and even witchcraft can be portrayed—very, very, very carefully—for thematic purpose and to convey the world in its fullness. The spiritual realm is no less real for being invisible, and the same ought to be true of a fictional world. And when used with the appropriate level of care and thought and prayer, this is anything but cheesy or lazy. I don’t think we should portray magic in a cheesy or lazy manner, because it’s a very serious thing in the real world and ought also to be a very serious thing in fiction. But I don’t think that means we ought to discontinue its portrayal altogether.

    It isn’t always portrayed in a trite, cheesy manner,, but I’m so sick of scrolling through hoopla or a library or audible or goodreads and reading descriptions of books and the first things is “the magic the man possess” or the “secret sorcerer,”  so trite, so shallow, so blah. So I would say that many times it is immature and trite.

    After saying all that, quality of writing is not my main reason for hating magic. Christian biblical reasons are why I truly avoid it. Perhaps I will write a post on why sometime soon, but I will say one thing in regard to your statement. Yes that spiritual world is very real, in fact, it is realer than the physical realm, but that does not mean that we should write anything about it. In fact, I believe messing with the spiritual realm in writing is a very dangerous and anti-biblical thing to do.

    I would be curious how you would propose replacing the term “magic” when referring to natural-to-fantasy abilities in way that would catch on not only with writers but also with reader

    I’m confused. There are several fantasy books and movies that never use the word magic but also have amazing fantastical elements in them. I do not necessarily recommend these books or movies as being perfectly okay, but Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, and Star Wars both have what readers wrongly call magic systems, and yet the authors never call their fantastical elements magic, they are just cool things they invented in that world. This is the professional, untrite, more christian like way to do it (I’m not saying these two series are Christian, I’m just saying that if I were to write fantasy I would follow their examples by not using magic or witchcraft in my book). To clarify, what I’m saying is that there doesn’t have to be anything to replace the word magic in books. Just make up a cool fantastical ability system in your world, make up some name for it, don’t make it feel demonic, and you’re good. If you meant a name for readers to use instead of magic system, readers can call it a plethora of different things. The powers of that world, the fantastical elements, the power-system, the special abilities, the list goes on.

    I’m a little confused by that quote. Care to elucidate on it for me? xD


    @bclarke

    That said, there are a few who do this well with their own systems – just I haven’t heard of a universal ‘fantastical ability system’ [name] that would refer to magic in our world, but a set of [natural laws] in their world.

    Thanks for the reply Bronte (or Tara, what am I supposed to call you? xD)! The second part of that quoted paragraph is what I want to drill down on. Magic in our world, as I tried to communicate in my post, does not  equal natural laws in another. Fantasy is your brainchild. Magic is supernatural. Magic is the same thing in our world as it is in another, harnessing power from a spiritual or sub-natural realm. Now, I’m to talk about what you’re probably driving at in my response to Taylor, so read that if you would like. 🙂


    @taylorclogston

    (gah, I wrote an initial post and then a server error had the site down some time before I tried to post)

    Man, I feel you so much. SE keeps doing that to me. xD

    Ideologically, I have zero issue with a fantasy book operating on a different theology to our world’s, so I’m afraid I’m not with you there either.

    If I’m understanding you right, you are talking about creating different religions in fantasy, such as Sanderson does in his Stormlight Archive. I have put some thought and study into this, but as of right now, I do not think that God would be pleased with us creating our own fake religions in fantasy world with their own rituals and worship styles. What I do like in fantasy is to have a Creator who is referenced, such as Eru Illvatar (Tolkien), The Creator (Robert Jordan), or Asland (Narnia). This was not really on subject though.

    I’m a linguistic descriptivist more than a prescriptivist, so I don’t believe it’s right to demand almost everyone else accede to your wishes of how a word’s used in the context of the fantasy genre.

    This is the argument that I anticipated when I wrote this post, I was just waiting for it to be brought up. 🙂 Before I defend my argument, let me say that there is some truth in this. Words can be hijacked and turned into slang versions of their previous selves, then those slang versions can even turn into primary versions of use. So this argument does have a point worth considering. However, as a Christan who knows the real use of the word (a use that is still used in fantasy, and in real life, just because some people don’t mean supernatural by magic in fantasy doesn’t mean they all don’t, the original use still greatly outweighs the slang version), I am not going to use a word that is directly connected and the root of a sin that Jesus and and His prophets and apostles in Old and New Testaments preached strongly against, that sin being witchcraft, sorcery, magicians, (not the modern magician style obviously), and anything having to do with messing with the spiritual realm. Since that is what magic meant for a very long time (you should study the witch trials, and the concept of magic in the middle ages and how it developed and was used and talked about in many real and un-christian like ways), and is still what it means usually today, I am not going to use that word or its counterparts. In addition to that, if I ever write the fantasy series I have in mind, I will not have any fantastical elements that feel magical or supernatural or ritualistic. Again, there is a point to words changing in use, but because of the bible and its use throughout time and in modernity, I believe it is an un-biblical thing to do.

    Finally, I don’t think magic is inherently cheesy, goofy, cringy, or childish, and we’ll just have to chalk that up to differences in taste.

    This was really just my own opinion (and the religions reason is the main reason I made this post, not personal taste), so I won’t argue it much, but I will say two things. Firstly, ignoring all christian values for a moment, there are plenty of writings that have magic that are not cheesy or immature, so on that isolated point you are right. Secondly, I just want to say that I’m surprised you aren’t sick of scrolling through the fantasy section of some library or goodreads online, and all the descriptions are about strange magic and secret sorcerers. It makes me sick. That’s what made me bring up this cheesy, childish, trite writing talk.

     

    #142687
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    Yes that spiritual world is very real, in fact, it is realer than the physical realm, but that does not mean that we should write anything about it. In fact, I believe messing with the spiritual realm in writing is a very dangerous and anti-biblical thing to do.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. I don’t believe it’s anti-biblical to portray a fact of the world, be it physical or spiritual, so long as it’s done with biblical truth in mind and with care not to mislead readers.

    If you meant a name for readers to use instead of magic system, readers can call it a plethora of different things. The powers of that world, the fantastical elements, the power-system, the special abilities, the list goes on.

    Fair enough.

    I’m a little confused by that quote. Care to elucidate on it for me? xD

    Tolkien is differentiating between Fantasy and Enchantment, which characterize a Secondary World that feels real to a reader even if they include fantastical elements (e.g. powers not found on earth), and Magic. He’s drawing a similar distinction to what you were describing, that the fantastical world characterized by Enchantment does not necessarily involve Magic, and Magic is more a sub-set that seeks specifically to dominate wills and is therefore negative, whether in the Secondary World or the real world (there’s also an implication that Magic is somewhat the same whether in the real world or the Secondary). I suspect he would characterize Sauron’s power—and particularly the One Ring—as Magic, given their purpose to dominate wills, while he would not consider the powers of the Elves or Wizards to be Magic.

    I don’t know if that was any clearer. I feel like my description was more complicated than the initial quote. 😛 But, then, I had the context in which to read the quote, so that might make the quote seem clearer to me.

    You might enjoy reading the whole essay this was pulled from, or at least the section “Fantasy” where this quote is found, not only as context for the quote but simply as a discussion of literature and story in general. It’s a great essay, at least so far as I’ve read. (It is long, lol.)

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142688
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Hmm, this was a very interesting read. Just to make sure I understood it correctly, I’m going to summarize your statement as “The term magic as used to describe special abilities in an alternate world is overused and often deceptive as it can be confused with real magic.”

    Hard agree on that one. Personally, I have often decided not to read books purely because the descriptor “Magical” or “Magic” was in the description or somewhere in the reviews. (Searching for new reads is usually a very fast process. The average time it takes me to pick out the ‘magic’ books is about ten seconds XD)

    Other than that, this isn’t something I have any new insights on, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the discussion, thanks for starting it! 🙂

     

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142708
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    @noah-cochran

    I get what you’re saying and I agree that magic and fantasy aren’t the same thing. I’d phrase it as “All stories with magic are fantasy, but not all fantasy stories have magic.” Fantasy to me means the story takes place in a world that has things in it that could never exist or happen in reality (vs. sci-fi where the invented things could possibly exist) and/or it takes place in a completely separate world from our own (as in The False Prince–that story doesn’t really contain anything impossible). So I suppose we agree about the definition of fantasy.

     

    As to magic, you are saying that we should only use that term to describe supernatural things like witchcraft and sorcery, stuff that is definitely not A-okay. You don’t think we should use that term to describe fantastical abilities that are natural to a fantasy realm, such as being able to control elements based on one’s genetics. I think distinguishing between those two things (witchcraft vs. natural abilities in an fantasy universe) is great and important, but I don’t think we need to go policing peoples’ use of the word ‘magic’. When I say a fantasy story has magic in it, I think of an ability that gives you some kind of control over something, such as the classical elements or the minds of others. I don’t think I’d use it to refer to something like Herculean strength or night vision because I see those as just heightened abilities of what we have in the real world.

     

    I shall give you an example from one of my WIPs. Everyone, every race in this world has some kind of control over one of the elements. This is a natural-born ability and I believe you would not call this alone magic. However, these abilities can be used in good and bad ways and the users of these abilities can strengthen their abilities by connecting to the supernatural realm–either being strengthened by the God-figure of the story or by the dark forces. Would you call both of those uses magic? Or would you only call it magic when that ability is being strengthened by the dark forces? The abilities granted by each can be the same–telling the future and raising the dead are the two I have considered so far–but the one would be Lawful, as in prophecy and miraculous resurrection, while the other would be Chaotic and Evil and be termed divination and necromancy respectively. It is based on how the user strengthens their inborn powers whether such ability/magic is Good or Evil. The God-figure would never grant power for an Evil use.

     

    I don’t know if any of this has added to the discussion but I thought I would throw it out there. In conclusion, I understand your distinction between natural abilities and magic, but I would just call it all magic, and probably just distinguish between white magic and black magic.

     

    I am guessing that you wouldn’t read Harry Potter? Are you familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems, and if so, what do you think of them?

     

    I personally prefer ‘magic’ that is more like special abilities and is used in consistent ways. I think most, if not all, stories should specify good and bad uses of whatever magic or abilities are being presented. I wouldn’t care to read a book that was just straight-up demonic sorcery or black magic with no good magic/abilities at all.

     

    Honestly this discussion kind of reminds me of the beginning of Avatar: the Last Airbender where Aang says, “It’s not magic, it’s airbending! I control the air currents to make myself fly.” Although I’m not sure if you’d appreciate that show either.

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

    #142722

    @noah-cochran

    Yup yup 🙂

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #142762
    Joelle Stone
    @joelle-stone

    @noah-cochran,

    Joelle, I loved reading this, it made my day.  I’m glad we agree, we need to complain to each other about it sometime.  xD

    XD I’m glad it made you so happy! And yes, we need to rant sometime. *can already feel heat boiling in my stomach as I think about this subject*

     

    "For love is strong as death." -God

    #142835
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @r-m-archer

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point. I don’t believe it’s anti-biblical to portray a fact of the world, be it physical or spiritual, so long as it’s done with biblical truth in mind and with care not to mislead readers.

    There is a huge difference between portraying a fact (showing that it exists) and having a protagonist or character utilize spiritual or demonic power. That is witchcraft, and the bible explicit teaches against messing with the realms of demons, angels, magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. Thoughts?

    Oh, then I think I agree with that quote, I like it. 🙂


    @rose-colored-fancy

    Thanks for the response Rose. 🙂

    I’m going to summarize your statement as “The term magic as used to describe special abilities in an alternate world is overused and often deceptive as it can be confused with real magic.”

    Yes it is overused, but to be clear, I think it is incorrect and bad for the word magic to be used to describe fantastical abilities or elements. It’s not about it being confused with real magic, it’s about us not using the word magic at all. Magic is magic, sorcery is sorcery.  Thoughts?

    Personally, I have often decided not to read books purely because the descriptor “Magical” or “Magic” was in the description or somewhere in the reviews.

    I literally do not read books that use the word magic to describe their fantastical elements unless there is some very special and rare reason it is used, so yeah, same here. xD


    @sparrowhawke

    Thanks for the response!

    All stories with magic are fantasy, but not all fantasy stories have magic.”

    Any story can have magic/supernatural, fantasy, or historical fiction, or sci-fi. I just wanted to clear up my view on that. So yes, not all fantasy has magic, but I wouldn’t say that all stories with magic are fantasy, magic does not make fantasy, magic makes supernatural.

    but I don’t think we need to go policing peoples’ use of the word ‘magic’.

    I’m not going to force my views down anyone’s throat, but I do think that since the bible teaches against witchcraft and magic, we shouldn’t be using that word, no matter how the world uses it (which btw, 99% of the time, people still mean supernatural when they use the word magic, even though the term magic system is getting confused with non-supernatural things as he talked about).

    I shall give you an example from one of my WIPs. Everyone, every race in this world has some kind of control over one of the elements. This is a natural-born ability and I believe you would not call this alone magic. However, these abilities can be used in good and bad ways and the users of these abilities can strengthen their abilities by connecting to the supernatural realm–either being strengthened by the God-figure of the story or by the dark forces. Would you call both of those uses magic? Or would you only call it magic when that ability is being strengthened by the dark forces?

    Yes, the every race in your fantasy world being born with an ability to control the elements is cool, and not magic or supernatural (unless you call it that or make it feel ritualistic). Using the supernatural realm to harness power or strengthen abilities, dealing with the supernatural/spiritual realm no matter if you get it from God or from demons or from some made up place. Is it magic if you get it from God? I don’t think I would use the word magic if I God gave it to you, but it is still supernatural, so my advice would be that you do not mess with the supernatural or spiritual realm in your book, or read books about that. In other words, even if it isn’t technically magic, it is supernatural, which means I would not mess with it.

    The abilities granted by each can be the same–telling the future and raising the dead are the two I have considered so far–but the one would be Lawful, as in prophecy and miraculous resurrection, while the other would be Chaotic and Evil and be termed divination and necromancy respectively. It is based on how the user strengthens their inborn powers whether such ability/magic is Good or Evil. The God-figure would never grant power for an Evil use.

    This is the argument I’ve heard several people use. Messing in the magical, supernatural, or spiritual realms is a thing that should never be done even if it is “used for good.” In the middle ages, there were many alleged happenings of magic, and along with them came the debate on whether or not “magic/supernatural for good” was okay. Everyone agreed dark magic and magic for bad was evil, but the debate was whether or not there were times where it was okay. Most Christians agreed that it was still evil, and through the bible, this is shown to be true.

    And Bethania, I just want to say that I thought that plot sounded great–except the supernatural part. Is there a reason you don’t just want to make all your fantastical elements be part of the natural part of that world? Disregarding my biblical reasons for  a moment and thinking from a purely enjoyment perspective, I think fantastical things are far more interesting and less cheesy than supernatural/magic.

    I don’t know if any of this has added to the discussion but I thought I would throw it out there. In conclusion, I understand your distinction between natural abilities and magic, but I would just call it all magic, and probably just distinguish between white magic and black magic.

    You have added a lot! I appreciate your reply!

    I tried to show that magic is bad no matter what, and white magic is a myth, so hopefully I was half-way coherent. xD

    I am guessing that you wouldn’t read Harry Potter? Are you familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems, and if so, what do you think of them?

    Correct, Harry Potter is one of the books that clearly use magic and the supernatural, and in the very way the bible teaches against. Okay, so Sanderson is one of those people that calls all his fantastical creations magic systems (including his fantastical elements in Skyward and Steelheart, both of which I have read). Those books do not use the word magic, and I think they are totally fine. As for his Mistborn series, as far as I can tell, it uses the word magic and maybe even has gods and demons? I am extremely disappointed by this fact, because the premise of that first novel in the series looked great. As for the Stormlight Archive, the storm powered weapons and abilities are great, and almost exactly how I would build a fantastical ability in a world (i.e, they are greatly related to the world and how it works, the storms). However, the series has a lot to do with false religions, supernatural beings (gods, according to wikifandom), and there is something called Old Magic in it. So no I’m not okay with those two series. Very disappointing, I wanted to read those books.

    Honestly this discussion kind of reminds me of the beginning of Avatar: the Last Airbender where Aang says, “It’s not magic, it’s airbending! I control the air currents to make myself fly.” Although I’m not sure if you’d appreciate that show either.

    I don’t know enough about it to say whether or not I’m okay with it, but if it is portrayed as something that is supernatural or magic, it would probably be fine. I like that quote, it is logic and good sense. 🙂


    @joelle-stone

    And yes, we need to rant sometime.

    I’ll compose a message sometime and ask you you’re specific views. 🙂

    *can already feel heat boiling in my stomach as I think about this subject*

    Good, I can feel your anger, take a weapon, strike me down, and your journey to the–oh wait, I wasn’t supposed to say that out-loud. 😉 xD

     

     

     

     

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