These Magical Worlds Are Even Better Than 'Harry Potter'

August 22, 2014 12:12 PM

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These Magical Worlds Are Even Better Than 'Harry Potter'

You know The One -- he's the guy or girl in a story who is fated to save the universe by dint of prophecy or lineage or genetics, or a giant plot-generating box the author hooked up to the electrical grid in his neighborhood which demands a fresh sacrifice every few minutes before disgorging awful storytelling advice. Like, Make your hero The One because he fits the details of a prophecy. Or, Give your hero amazing magical powers for no reason whatsoever. Or, Never explain how he manages to go from country bumpkin to Amazing Super Wizard Version 5.1 in just under forty thousand words.

I hate The One because there are no damn rules. Magic should not be one giant hand-wave. Magic in your book is an excellent opportunity for world-building and characterization: What does magic cost? How does it work? Power and its use should cost your characters something. In We Are Not Good People,...

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