Magic as a free pass

Kristi and Valerie, my lovely critique partners, both got me thinking with their posts on our shared blog Sisters in Scribe. Kristi mentioned that it is human to act out of character, and Valerie talked about listening to your characters, and recognizing when something is too far out of character.

When you throw magic or paranormal elements into the story, does it change those things? Can your character do things without thinking, or do something totally out of character because magic makes her do it?


But how boring is that?

Look at Harry Potter. Sure, he uses his wand to get out of some pretty tight situations, but Harry's wand doesn't just do what he wants it to do. He has to learn how to use it. And he isn't always right and sometimes bad things happen as a result. But Harry learns from his mistakes and come mega showdown, Harry and his wand kick ass.

I'm guilty of doing this myself. Something awesome and scary happens to my MC, and yet she follows an awesome and scary guy into the woods anyway. As of right now, it's because A.) Awesome-scary guy used freaky-deaky powers on her and B.) she's got nowhere else to go.

Nowhere else to go is way more realistic, right? But if you had nowhere else to go, would you still go into the woods with awesome-scary guy? No. But maybe she would. It's up to you/me/the writer to decide. But, like Valerie said, whatever you/me/we decide, it has to make sense. It has to make the reader think "okay, that might be stupid, but I get why she did it."

If I would just have Awesome-scary guy use magic powers on her to make her forget everything and follow him like a drone, that's boring. And it makes me not like the MC because she's kind of pathetic.

Sure, you can just write something magic in there to make her do it. But would you want to read that?


Jen said...

I have to be careful with my MC she can't hold too many powers but she also can't over use them, with every situation I write I need to make sure there is a balance so I understand completely!!!

Great post!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yup, magic is tricky. I constantly have to make sure I'm following the rules I created. But magic sure does make it interesting.

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Thanks, Jen! Looking forward to seeing what you write one of these days. I love your title (Finding Me).

Karen, I'm a big fan too. Gotta have freaky-deaky powers. Sometimes it can be tricky, making sure you follow your own rules! Especially when you change them a thousand times, lol!

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