by Jill Williamson
Well, Sarah F. has been an inspiration to me with her comments, so I decided to write two more posts about fighting. Today I’m going to talk about magical battles, and on Friday, the all-out war.
What makes a magical battle different from a regular fight? The magic, of course. Everything else still applies. You need to know the motivations for why these people are fighting, where they are, and their skill levels from my first fight scene post. And you need to consider all those editing topics we talked about last week as well. But the big difference is the magic.
To create believable magic you need rules. You need to know what the magic can do, where the power comes from, and the limitations of this power.
For example, the magic I created in my Blood of Kings trilogy is called bloodvoicing. This is the ability to speak to and hear the minds of other gifted individuals. It is a gifting that in genetic. It runs in your blood like blue eyes or freckles. It’s pretty much telepathy, but I did a bit more with it. Here are some bloodvoicing basics:
Messaging- Sending a thought to another person. Listening- Eavesdropping on the thoughts of another.Watching- Looking through the eyes of another while hearing their thoughts. Knocking- To let a gifted person know you want to communicate. Blocking- Closing your mind so that no one can send you a message or look through your eyes. Sensing- Recognizing when a gifted bloodvoicer is nearby. Jumping- Using another bloodvoicer’s connection to reach a third individual. This is done in cases when an individual doesn’t know their target well enough to make a connection on their own. Influencing- Forcing someone to do something secretly or by outright possession. A naughty use of one’s power. Storming- Forcing someone’s soul from their body. A dangerous thing to do.
When I started out, it was just telepathy. But as the trilogy went on, it developed into a battle skill for people I called bloodvoice warriors. And knowing exactly what bloodvoicing could and couldn’t do, gave my characters parameters for each battle scene that came along. In the end, Achan could leave his body behind and appear anywhere he wanted to, watch and report on enemy activities, or storm an enemy from his or her body. The whole thing was rather fun to write.
I also gave different characters different levels of magical ability. Achan was powerful, but untrained, so he often made dangerous mistakes. And Vrell, my girl character, couldn’t bloodvoice for very long because it made her weak, which put her soul in danger of floating away for good.
That’s the trick to writing with magic. You have to put in the time to brainstorm how your magic works and doesn’t work, give your characters different levels of skill, and then you can do anything within those parameters. If your character tries to do something that is against the rules of the magic, you’ll be able to write the consequences to that, which is also fun. For example, Achan just couldn’t figure out how to “Listen.” Every time he tried, he ended up in another person’s mind, “Watching,” which left his body empty and dazed—a bad move when his body was in the middle of a sword fight!
So tell me about the magic in your story. Where are you stuck? Let’s work on brainstorming the rules so that you can better imagine the possibilities and limitations such abilities will give your characters.