Hi gang, Craig with you again. In my last post, we talked about special items that you might find in a paranormal tale of some kind. The key involved a list of things to consider when creating an item for your story. Let’s include the list again.
• Enhancing the world you are building.
• Balancing the scale between ultimate power and limitations on usage.
• Resale Value.
I’m taking on one of the biggest genres today, fantasy. This field is so big that I can’t cover everything. It includes urban fantasy, Greco-Roman, medieval, and about a billion other things.
We’re going to have to paint with a broad brush today, and it’s up to you to formulate my suggestions into your fantasy world…or not. These aren’t rules, they’re merely things to consider.
I also have to limit these magical items to things you can carry with you. Fantasy is full of magical spinning wheels, wells in the forest, and more. Let’s say Arc of the Covenant at the big end. Even that took a couple of guys.
Start off by deciding what your character(s) are going to do. Are they seeking, finding, protecting, fighting, etc. Then design your magical item to help with that task. The Harpoon of Fate might not do much if your story involves rappelling down cliffs and exploring caves. It might do some world building in a sea adventure.
It looks like we’ve moved into the points for consideration and started glancing off double duty with the harpoon. Your magical item can enhance the setting, the character, or both along with its magical purpose. If your character is a musician, maybe a magical instrument can help with character.
Don’t make the mistake of putting a magic light bulb into your Greco-Roman fantasy. Make sure such a thing existed during the times your story is set. An oil lamp might be a better choice.
Fantasy is full of magical weapons. Make sure you adjust the dial on how powerful your item is. Readers will feel let down if they spend 90K words reading about an awesome adventure, then it all ends suddenly by deploying the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioc. The real solution should come from within your heroes.
I’m going to take just a minute to talk about story structure here. Everything in a book weaves together to create the whole. We design characters with flaws and fears. Part of the character arc involves facing those shortcomings and overcoming them. This action should be what solves the big story problem, not a magical doo-dad. If it were as simple as deploying said doo-dad, the elders might send out the village idiot instead. There would be no need for heroes. Moving on…
Take resale value into consideration. Would you want this item if it were to exist in the real world? This can really hook fans, because you’re playing to their desires while nudging your story ahead. An enchanted stone that summons a creature is great. In the story, it can spy, steal, deliver messages, all kinds of things. In my world, I’d make that sucker mow the lawn and pick up pizza. I wouldn’t even need to put on a mask. (Note: for longevity sake, this is posting amid the C-19 disaster.)
Fantasy is loaded with magical armor as well. You have to adjust the dial here, too. If your character is impervious to everything it takes all the fun away from your battle scenes. However, it gives you a chance to play around with costuming. Costuming helps with character and world building if you take the time. Things like capes are out of fashion today, but your eccentric wizard might make a real statement wearing one in an urban fantasy. Give him a turban, he’s eccentric, remember. Maybe the turban can unwind and the strips of cloth can do some amazing things.
This is fantasy, so the sky’s the limit. I’d avoid any science fiction gadgetry, but beyond that, create to your heart’s content.
I’d love to hear from you today. What do you think about the consideration points? Tell me about your magic fishhooks, belt buckles, or timepieces.