Why magic needs to have rules

Stories need rules as much as they need imagination; as counter-intuitive as it seems, placing restrictions on what can happen in your fictional world will help readers to understand the dramatic tensions, threats and challenges encountered by your characters. This is true regardless of the genre you’re playing in.

If you’re writing realist fiction — ie, set in the modern, ‘real’ world, you get a lot of these restrictions built-in and provided for free. A realist story set in 2018 won’t feature magic, or paranormal activity, or strange creatures. Your readers will immediately…

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