Magic, myth and mystery

In my current work in progress, The Fair Queen, I have created a system of magic based on the elements.

As always, spoilers abound, so if you want to read my book (when it’s finished) without any hints then don’t read on.

 

Magic, myth & mystery

 

In the Fair Queen, there is another world within our own, called the Fair Realm, where magic exists and mythical creatures are real.

The Fair Realm and everything in it is based on British – mainly English – mythology and legends. The names of characters, towns, the creatures and their abilities – they’re all rooted in our history.

I read a few articles about creating magic systems, and there seem to be two distinct schools of thought. One prefers a very strict, rule-based magic system, and the other favours a looser, more ambiguous style. I have opted for the second one, as I think it lets the reader use their imagination more and allows a lot more flexibility for the writer.

I also think it gives the whole book a more mysterious feel, which is what I hope to do in The Fair Queen. Whilst some fantasy authors are looking to create a very fixed type of magic that readers can learn and understand, I think that fits in well in a book where the entire story takes place in a mythical land, so the two balance each other.

The Fair Queen is ultimately set in a rural town in England, and even though there is another realm within that, the majority of the elements in the story are very realistic. The only fantastical elements to the story are the magic and the mythical creatures that have come to exist as a result of it, so I felt that a loosely explained, mysterious magic system would be well anchored by the rest of the story world.

Does that make sense? I hope so!

Now that’s (somewhat) explained, I’ll tell you a bit about the actual magic…

The Fair are split into five kinds, each with a different elemental magic:

Gnome (Earth)

Sylph (Air)

Ondine (Water)

Salamander (Fire)

Celeste (Aether)

I won’t give too much away, but after a century of war, poverty and oppression, magic is actually very rare. That’s part of the mystery surrounding magic in the story, not many people even possess it. It’s become a sort of myth within itself.

There, now you know a little something about the magical people in The Fair Queen! Next time, I’ll introduce you to some of the mythical creatures that prowl the Fair Realm.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about magic systems in fantasy novels. Do you prefer your magic to have clear rules and restrictions, or do you like ambiguity so you can imagine your own limitations, if any?

Let’s chat in the comments.

Lyndsey

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Magic, myth and mystery Lyndsey's Book Blog

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Current word count: 57,364

Currently reading:

PaperbackFlawed by Cecelia Ahern

I’m really enjoying Cecelia Ahern’s first foray into YA. I have read almost everything she has written and loved most of it, so I knew I had to read this as soon as I heard she was publishing a YA novel. It took a while to get into at first, but after the first hundred pages the intensity really ramps up and the story picks up pace.

I see it as a combination of 1984 by George Orwell and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s about a dystopian society where a secondary justice system has been set up to punish flawed citizens who are not quite criminals, but have committed some kind of immoral or flawed act. It’s quite scary to think about how realistic this premise is, and in some ways I think the punishment served to the Flawed is worse than that received by actual criminals.

Check it out if you like dystopian YA. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, Perfect, when it comes out next year.

AudiobookThe Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I liked the first book in this series, but it was the second book that really got me hooked on this series and now I can’t wait to see how it concludes with The Fate of the Tearling. I won’t give too much away for those of you who haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling yet (go read it!), but basically it’s set in a sort of medieval fantasy world and centres around a young girl who was brought up in seclusion in a remote cottage, and finds out that she is the future queen of the Tearling.

The book charts her journey to the castle where she will reign, and her development from young girl to reigning monarch. It’s absolutely fascinating, and there is a host of fantastic characters as well as an intriguing magic element to the story.

Read it if you love historical fiction with a fantasy twist, but don’t expect much romance!

Meet the squad

Hello again! As promised, this time I’m going to introduce you to the characters of my work in progress, The Fair Queen. You can check out the synopsis here.

I should probably warn you now, if you don’t like spoilers you might not want to read on. I’ve tried to keep out anything major but I never know what others might class as a spoiler for my own work.

Our protagonist is the impulsive and slightly reckless Aria Colling, who is about to turn eighteen, but unlike her genius best friend Jasper, she isn’t heading off to University in the Autumn. Instead, she’s looking down the barrel of a pretty dull life in her hometown of Hartwood, working part time at the local library (I know, dream job, right? Not to Aria), and living in her parents’ bungalow.


Jasper Quinn is Aria’s best friend. They’ve known each other practically since birth, live next door, and were inseparable until Jasper’s parents sent him to the local all-boys grammar school at 11. That’s what you get for being smart, I guess. Jasper knows Aria has been in love with him for years, which is why it was so hard to tell her when they were fourteen that he’s gay. Luckily, nothing has damaged their friendship so far, but maybe going off to University and leaving her behind will be the last straw…


‘Xander’ Alexander is the mysterious black-haired and silver-eyed boy who Aria has started seeing everywhere she goes-even in her dreams. He’s the Crown Prince of one of the Five Kingdoms within the Fair Realm. A Gnome with elemental magic, the ability to control earth. He’s been watching Aria and he believes she is the long-lost daughter of the Salamander King, the subject of a twenty year old prophecy, and he wants to take her to the Fair Realm to reunite her with her father. Xander is very noble and loyal, but the strain of so much expectation and pressure does get to him at times.


Bazyl Demitree is the charming, auburn-haired boy who has also had his eye on Aria. He wants to take her to the Fair Realm and hand her over to the evil Celeste King, presumably for a hefty reward. The gang have to stay one step ahead of Demitree and his men or risk losing Aria to the enemy.


Conroy Rainer, or just Rainer, is the oldest and highest ranking-after Xander, of course. He takes on an advisory role, but ultimately bows to his prince’s wishes. Coming from a small Gnome village, Rainer is quite superstitious and believes the prophecy to be genuine. He trains Aria in secret, hoping to help her become the Fair Queen she was always destined to be and bring about the foretold peace.


Coulter Egan is the cheeky chappy whose good looks get him out of trouble every time. Second oldest of the group and in a relationship with Rainer, he keeps an eye out for them while Rainer trains Aria. A skilled archer and hunter, could there be more to Coulter’s abilities than meets the eye?


Kiefer Alexander, younger brother to Xander, is strong-willed and stubborn. Competitive and determined, he loves to challenge Coulter to hunting competitions. He’s a rebel with a heart of gold who wants justice and peace for the Gnome people.


Quade is the youngest of the group. He’s a sensitive soul who’s always getting teased by the others to get a reaction-usually successfully! His short temper often gets him into trouble.


And there you have it in a nutshell! I hope you feel like you know my characters a little better now, and hopefully can’t wait to see them in action.

I know there are a lot of dudes in the inner circle, but there are some kick-ass female characters in there too! Particularly in the sequel, The Solitary King…

Next time, I’ll let you into the Fair Realm and share a little bit about the elemental magic that my Fair characters possess.

See you then!

Lyndsey

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Current word count: 56,215

NaNoWriMo 2016

I took part in National Novel Writing Month for the first time this year. I didn’t quite manage to write 50,000 words, but I got to almost 35,000 and that is an achievement in itself!

I didn’t go into it expecting to win. I didn’t even believe I could win, what with work and a busy social life. Now that November is over and I have successfully survived my first attempt at NaNoWriMo I can honestly say that it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I’m sure I could have won if a few unexpected things hadn’t come up and I had been a little bit more focused.

(I will never regret the weekend I spent watching the Harry Potter films and making HP themed food and drink with my sister in law. That Polyjuice Potion cocktail was delicious!)

With the 15,000 words I had already written of my WIP before November started, I’m actually over 50,000 words into my first draft. At this rate, I expect to have my first draft finished by the end of the year. I know Christmas is coming, but I have a couple of weeks off over the festive period and I am really enjoying writing (almost) everyday. So, the one thing I will thank NaNoWriMo for is getting me into a writing habit.

I fell into the trap of editing as I go, but I think I’m going to end up with a pretty solid first draft as a result, rather than a mess of typos and plot holes, so fingers crossed all’s well that end’s well.

Then again, I may end up scrapping every single scene and rewriting the whole thing in the second draft. Who knows!?

NaNo was definitely an eye-opener, and a baptism of fire for me. I only started writing my first novel in the summer, and had outlined pretty well before November, and even written the first couple of chapters. NaNo forced me to outline even further, by listing 30 scenes that I needed to write so that every day I would have something to write about, rather than trying to remember where I was and where I was going. Thank the Better Novel Project for that pearl of wisdom! Christine has created a cheatsheet wth 30 scenes that are essential for every Hero’s Journey structure novel. This came in really handy when I was writing my list. This year, she has also created a cheatsheet with 30 steps for building characters and themes to help you plan and outline your novel and give your story more depth.

I’m really happy about where I am with my WIP now, everything is coming together and it’s starting to feel like a real novel. (Ssh, don’t jinx it!)

I’ll introduce you to my characters in my next post, they’re really coming into their own now and I want to dig even deeper and get to the bottom of who they are. So, we’ll do that next time!

If you took part in NaNo I’d love to hear how it went for you. Tell me about your WIPs!

Lyndsey

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NaNoWriMo 2016 National Novel Writing Month Lyndsey's Book Blog