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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
“The low, undulating Danish landscape was silent and serene, mysteriously wide-awake in the hour before sunrise. There was not a cloud in the pale sky, not a shadow along the dim, pearly fields, hills and woods. The mist was lifting from the valleys and hollows, the air was cool, the grass and the foliage dripping wet with morning dew. Unwatched by the eyes of man, undisturbed by his activity, the country breathed a timeless life, to which language was inadequate.
All the same, a human race had lived on this land for a thousand years, had been formed by its soil and weather, and had marked it with its thoughts, so that now no one could tell where the existence of the one ceased and the other began. The thin gray line of road, winding across the plain and up and down the hills, was the fixed materialization of human longing, and of the notion that it is better to be in one place than another.”
— Isak Dinesen, Winter’s Tales
You can create exciting plot complications if the magician who casts a spell gets it wrong.
Here are some ideas you can use in your fiction. Although I’ve used the female pronoun, everything applies to magicians of either gender.
* The magician summons a spirit (e.g. a demon) to do her bidding – but that spirit is malevolent and more powerful than she expected, and she is unable to keep it under control.
* The magician recites a complicated spell … but she misremembers a word or mispronounces a syllable, and the outcome is not what she intended. (This happens only with forms of magic which rely on the precise wording, for example, ancient Egyptian magic. It doesn’t happen with forms of magic where the intent is more important than the word, such as Wiccan witchcraft.)
* The magician wants something intensely, and doesn’t mean to cast a spell … but she has unwittingly raised magical energy by dancing or drumming, and her intense desire turns into a spell… one which she comes to regret bitterly.
* The magician, roused to righteous anger, casts a harmful spell (a hex or a curse) on someone… but the harm returns to her, and she suffers the same fate. (In some forms of magic, it is said that the harm returns threefold, or hundredfold.)
* The magician casts a benevolent spell to help someone… but by helping one person, she is harming another (e.g. by helping a friend succeed at a job interview, she robs someone else of the chance), and the harm returns to her.
* The magician casts a spell on the spur of the moment, which at the time seems the right thing to do… but afterwards, she realises that what she has done is unethical, or has unwanted consequences.
* The magician summons a god into the circle …. but gods don’t take kindly to humans who boss them about. Although they may lend a helping hand to the magician who invites them, they may punish the presumptuous ones.
* The magician raises magical energy to fuel a spell (for example, by dancing, drumming or chanting)… but she raises more than she intended, and the spell magnifies out of proportion. She may intend to light a candle, and instead set the house on fire. She may intend to bring an afternoon’s sunshine, and instead bring ten years of desperate drought.
* The magician may desperately try to concentrate on the spell, because magic works through the mind… but in a situation of acute danger, she can’t concentrate. The more urgently she needs to concentrate, the less she is able to. Perhaps the gun-armed killers are already breaking down the door, or the sadistic villain is torturing her lover in the same room, and the distraction means she can’t summon the concentration she needs to work magic.
* The magician casts a spell for what she wants to happen… but she forgets to specify how. For example, if she’s desperate for cash, she may cast a spell for a hundred thousand dollars, and a week later she learns that her beloved sister has died and in her will left her that amount.
* The magician casts a spell for what she wants to happen… but she forgets to specify when. The results come years later, when she has long forgotten about the spell, and when the results are no longer desirable.
Magical mistakes can seldom be undone. Trying to undo a spell may even mess things up further. A sensible, experienced magician will always think carefully before she works magic, considering the necessary preparations, the ethic implications, and the possible consequences – but the magician in your novel may not always be careful and sensible.
The fiction potential of magical misjudgements and screw-ups endless. I hope this article has inspired your creativity.
If you have questions about magical mistakes, or want feedback for an idea, or if you need help with a magical mistake scenario in your work-in-progress, please ask. I’ll be around for a week and will answer questions.
Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), Six Historical Tales Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).
The five main senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
This sense is the easiest to use, but it can be boring if used a lot. Choose details which characterise the place and show only what the point-of-view character would notice. To create atmosphere, describe the source and quality of the light. Examples: Blossoming dittany spilled over the slope. Black clouds smeared the sky. Punchbags hung like giant misshapen sausages from the wall. Tiny lizards darted across the broken floor tiles, tongues flicking. Golden sunlight dappled the lawn. Sundown bloodied the horizon.
Sounds make a story exciting. Use this sense a lot when writing a ghost or horror story or a scary scene and whenever you want to increase the suspense. Include the sounds of footsteps, of furniture, of doors opening and closing, and of background noises. Can be used anywhere in the story, especially during suspenseful moments. Examples: The door squealed open. Her high heels clacked on the pavement. In the distance, a motor howled. The receptionist’s keyboard clicked, the water dispenser gurgled, and from next door came the hollow whine of the dentist’s drill.
This sense is a powerful tool in the writer’s hand, because a single sentence about smells creates more atmosphere than a whole page of seeing. This is perfect if you want to keep your descriptions short but effective. Mention smells at the beginning of a scene, and whenever the point-of-view character arrives at a new place. You can also use it to describe a person. Consider mentioning two or more smells in one sentence. Examples: The air smelled of hairspray and bubblegum. The air smelled of boiled cabbage and disinfectant. The air was thick with charcoal smoke and diesel fumes. She smelled as if she had sprayed on all the samples from the perfumery counter.
Use this only if it suits your story, for example, if the PoV is eating or drinking something. Examples: The curry was just as he liked it: hot and spicy, with a strong coriander flavour. The soup singed her gums with its sour taste. The coffee had that sharp-bitter taste of a too-often reheated brew. I savoured the iced coffee on my tongue, with its blissful blend of cold and creamy, bitter and sweet.
This includes what the PoV touches with her/his hands, and also how the ground feels underfoot, how garments feel on the body, how wind or rain feels in the face. In the widest sense, it can encompass temperature, balance, hunger, thirst and pain. Examples: Needles of hail pricked her cheeks as if she had dipped her face into a pincushion. Hot sweat soaked into her shirt, her knickers, her bra. The doorknob felt icy in her hand. She groped her way through the darkness, her fingers sliding across sharp-edged stones and damp sticky walls.
To make your writing vivid, I recommend using at least three of these senses in every scene.
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