Musing: The Science of Fantasy, Part 2

Picking up where I left off last week, Fantasy is a restricted by rational theories and physics.   Instead, we must plead a case to the reader’s suspension of disbelief.   One of the biggest things I say when I read fantasy is: “Oh come on, if you have the ability to create objects from nothing, why is the current issue a problem at all?”

So put simply, the more powerful your magic is, the more problems arise with believably.  By inflicting simple rules on the magic, you will retain the respect of the reader.   Let’s start with something simple.

Superheroes are effectively specialized magicians.   They have a skill set that allows them to do great things.   When you factor in what they can do, you also need to factor in what they cannot do.  Super strength is something many heroes have.   It allows them to lift heavy things, hit things with increased force and usually comes with increased durability.   Characters with super strength are often seen as brutes, lacking finesse.  It’s not an absolute, but when a character specializes in one thing they fall short in others.

classy hulk

Damn it internet. I’m trying to make a point here. (Picture Credit: Tursy on Deviant Art)

Have you ever seen the Incredible Hulk sipping tea?   Probably not.  The reason is simple, he’s a big angry guy focused on raw crushing power.   He’s not really good at managing the intricacies of the lifted pinkie.

The same needs to be applied to all magic.   If the reader knows the cost of magic they know when the character can and cannot use it.  When properly trained, they know the magic isn’t an option.   Other times situations will arise where the reader will anticipate magic to be used a certain way.   Obviously no one likes it when stories are too predictable, but if you balance the line between expectation and fresh content you can get the reader really excited.

After all, everyone likes to be right.


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