Writing Magic: Permanence

When you’re creating the rules of the fantasy or supernatural world in which you intend to write, don’t forget to examine permanence.

Permanence (n): The state or quality of lasting or remaining unchanged indefinitely.

When we talk about permanence in regard to magic, we mean how long magic lasts. The permanence of a bit of magic (especially a spell) has a huge impact on the norms of magic-users in your story. Questions to ask yourself:

  • If my character casts a spell, how long can he or she reasonably expect that spell to last?
  • Can he or she limit the permanence of the spell, or maybe lengthen it at some extra “cost”? If so, what is the “cost” of lengthening and limiting magic in my story?
  • Are there some types of magic that are more permanent than others? For example, is death permanent if the death is inflicted by magical means? Do objects that have changed form change back after a certain length of time, while memory spells can last forever?
  • Can a character or some other outside force limit or lengthen the permanence of a spell cast by another? Can another magic-user end a spell, or is a spell, once cast, permanent? Are there exceptions?
  • Does location matter?
  • Does the time of day or the day of the year affect a magic’s permanence? Do planets? Stars? Clothing colors?
  • Is the permanence of magic affected by the skill of the magic-user?
  • Does the potency of a spell thin out the longer a spell is in effect? Is there anything a character can do to discourage this in his or her magic?
  • What effect does magic permanence have on my plot? How can my characters grow from the rules placed on magic regarding permanence?

There are plenty of questions about permanence to ask yourself when you’re writing magic for your story. We haven’t listed them all, and some will most certainly be unique to your genre or even to your story. Be sure to cover this nuance of magic as you create.

We’ll be writing more on magic in the future. For now, check out our article on Magic-Speak and worldweaving's post, Worldbuilding Basics: Magic! for more on writing magic into your story.

More World Building...

This is a continuation of a previous post I made about my world building project. The post in question can be found here. Please note that theses posts are little more than organized idea dumps. If you’re interested in fictional creation myths and history read ahead, but if this sort of thing bores or annoys you, be warned.

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Withdrawing from the affairs of the mortal races, who were unaware of their gods’ absence, ended up causing some more issues. Long ago during their war with the giants and beasts of the earth they battled one who was particularly large and vicious. He had three heads that spewed flame and ash, a hundred great arms, and feet that shook the earth as he walked. The gods with the aid of the mankind had defeated him, and the gods sealed him in a large mountain. However, when the gods withdrew from the mortal world the magics that had sealed up this great beast began to weaken. Eventually the top of the mountain broke off, and the great beast began to spew ash and flame throughout the land of the humans. The skies became covered with dark clouds and the earth with ash. Earthquakes also occurred; a few of which were particularly catastrophic. All of these things eventually led to the humans departure. Most of the human clans/tribes under the guidance of the influential and brilliant Lord Erastus set sail in search for new lands.

Mankind eventually settled on the southern tip of an island in a place that was sheltered by both mountains and sea. There they lived for some time until the inhabitants of the island, the ankhvari, discovered them.The humans position on the southern coast was sheltered by a mountain range that was viewed as haunted and/or demonic place. This is why humans weren’t discovered earlier. The ankhvari migrated to the island long ago and see the island as their divine right. This eventually led to war between the two groups.

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