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So many possibilities, so many logical strings!

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Addison, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. Addison

    Addison Auror

    I took a risk recently and had my story read by a stranger. Not a total stranger, I didn't stop the first person I saw, give them my book and my contact info. It was a friend of my sister's.

    Anyway, good news she loved it. She gave good critique, as much as she could-she had to read it over the course of several days and her notes were scattered- and she asked me if future books would explore the world more. She asked questions based on her recent history final and on the drive I had two words echo in my head.

    "Oh Crap."

    Not the words a reader wants in their head. Or in any head.

    My world is basically our world, seven continents, presidents, wars etc. The twist is that magic never died/disappeared/hid. It continued to be a part of man's life, as much as farming, love and weather. With that said some things would turn out different. I don't mean magic in place of weapons and things like that, those are a given. I mean actual historical moments. People, places, events, country borders, currency, victors in battles etc.

    History was not my best subject. So I'm curious how much would-or rather should- be different in this world due to magic's abundance? I may be nit picking, it's the first time someone has read the entire story so it's the first full critique, but I want to be careful.
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    You can make it as different as you want it too. You just have to have an answer for, "Why this instead of this?" even if it's a trite answer or a flip one. Otherwise shape your world how you please. Not all worlds make sense once you dig down a layer or two. Like any other story, you just have to be internally consistent with the rules and reasons you establish. And know what things to leave a mystery.

    Take a look at Harry Potter. If you think too hard on that world, the mix of real and magical doesn't completely jive. But who cares? It was fun, and no pun intended, magical.
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    Everything. History has that whole "butterfly effect" thing going on where everything effects everything else in a huge way either directly or indirectly. You can't say "how different would history be if this thing has always existed?" and expect a nice little list of all the differences.

    I'm doing a story where the big historical difference is that an isolated native American tribe had magic (teleportation and nothing else). Now I'm trying to figure-out how the U.S. doesn't turn into a fascist empire in the 1840's.

    Here's the best advice you're likely to get.
    Penpilot and Addison like this.
  4. KC Trae Becker

    KC Trae Becker Troubadour

    This sounds like a fun way to view the world, but a lot of work to be thorough with.

    I'm doing something similar on a much smaller scale. I'm focusing mostly on Ireland since that is where the specific magic portal I'm using is. Being American, I don't know Irish history that well. So I'm looking at overviews of history then deciding which events would likely impact my story. From there I'm digging deeper until I feel I know enough to make it sound believable.

    So my advice is to look at overviews of world history to start. Or even pick a region to focus on and look at the history of that region. Figure out when magic was still part of life in that region, usually up to the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Then pick up from there with the changes you want. Do a little research to make your changes plausible and have fun.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
  5. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    You can also look at alternate history stories. Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos was one of the best early ones to create a version of today's world with magic (eg, modern children are give a True Name in the hospital, along with their vaccinations). And Harry Turtledove is the grandmaster in alternate history, though I don't think any of his books have been both playing with our world and using magic. And on the more popular end of the scale, most of the Urban Fantasy/Romance tales combine magic with our world anyway, and they show how even if history isn't the point of the tale you can have fun looking over a world and saying "and that was influenced by magic."

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