Wolfblood author Debbie Moon shares her five rules for creating a magical world with us.
Creating a whole new world, particularly one with magic or supernatural powers, can feel really intimidating but world-building is one of the best parts of writing. It's where you can really let your imagination run wild, and a place to embody the themes of your story.
Here are some tips on creating your own magical world…
1. Just Change One Thing
In a lot of stories, you only need to make one fundamental change to society, and then examine all the things that would change in reaction to that. The entire rich world of Harry Potter comes from one idea: what if witches and wizards actually existed? That's a really simple idea but it leads logically to everything else. How they would live and work, where they'd go to school, who would keep bad wizards in check and what their history would be like. It all comes from a single "what if?"
So rather than throwing all your ideas into one story, just change one thing, and see where that leads you.
2. Only Copy Details
In the movie Inception, the dream-architect Cobb tells his new team member never to copy whole buildings or areas from the real world. Only take small details, he says. Assemble your new world piece by piece from different inspirations.
This is really great writing advice. A lot of bad heroic fantasy, for example, is a carbon copy of Tolkien, and it all feels the same. But if you borrow some ideas from the Anglo-Saxon legends he was inspired by, and other ideas from Barbary pirates, or Chinese myths, or the Aboriginal Dreamtime, blending them all together, you'll have a world no one has ever seen before.
3. Remember Magical Powers Are Composed Of Strengths And Weaknesses
The characters in Wolfblood have amazing senses, incredible speed, and the instincts of wild creatures but they're also in thrall to the lunar cycle, and in danger of revealing their true self every time they get angry or stressed.
If the magic or supernatural powers in your world have no downside, your characters will win every struggle and solve every problem easily, and your story won't have any tension or danger. So make sure there are problems to overcome. Maybe the magic is hard to learn, or exhausting to use. Maybe it's illegal, or regarded as shameful. Anything that doesn't make things too easy for your characters…
4. A Lot Of Things Will Be The-Same-But-Different.
Thinking, feeling beings, whether they're human or not, have basic needs. We all want to feel safe, to have food and shelter and warmth, to do something fulfilling with our lives, to have families and loved ones. We may do that in very different ways, but the need that drives us is the same.
Making sure your characters feel some of these needs will help your audience to bond with them and give you a framework for your society. Everyone needs to eat: so how do they get their food in this society, who grows it, and how are the needy fed? Everyone wants to be part of a family, but will that be a ‘nuclear family', a communal group,or some other way of living? It's the basics like this that build up to form a convincing civilisation.
5. Be Spectacular
The best part about creating a magical world is that your characters can do things that would never happen in the real world. So don't overthink it. Don't get lost in the detail. Sometimes you just need to cut loose and have something incredible happen. Make sure your characters have fun, and experience how amazing the world you created for them really is, and your readers will have fun too!
Create and share your own magical world with us with at our Inspired community https://www.mixital.co.uk/channel/magic-with-harry-potter