Monday, March 10, 2014

The Magical Logic of Harry Potter, The Unraveler, and literature in general


In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, our Boy-Who-Lived finds a book and inside of it is a hand-written spell. For enemies, it is written.

Sectumsempra! 
 
The spell cuts like the slash of a sword when you wave your wand. It’s a cool spell. The word is cool. JK has a knack for making up awesome words for spells.

The spell was created by the Half-Blood Prince himself (I know everyone knows who that is, but I hate typing out spoilers), and that got me wondering. How are spells created?

How does the magic, the action of the sword slash, attach itself onto the cool-sounding word? If the Prince can make his own spells, how did he do it? Why is it a cool sounding word? By chance? Were all the spells created a long time ago, and are we just rediscovering them? Maybe it isn’t the word, necessary, but the word helps the user focus on the feeling needed to do the magic. Maybe there is a ritual where the magic must be burned into the word.

We don’t really know.

I’ve always felt this was a hole in the plot I fell through. I’m sure JK knows how the spells in her world were created, but she hasn’t shared that knowledge. Even glancing at the HP Wiki didn’t give me much to go on. It leaves me with many questions.

Can there be more than one spell with the same effect?
Can old spells be changed?
Can spells have not-cool sounding names, or is the ancient-sounding language required?

...I could go on and on with these, but that’s not my point in writing this.


magic not magic

I don’t like to call what is in my book, “magic.” It isn’t, though it may seem so on the outside. Many fantasy books have magic, but I am a logical creature. I need more of a reason for why things work the way they do.

But I wanted to include something like magic in my novel, something otherworldly. Something that gives the reader the powers they dream of when they read fantasy, but without them having to be fantastically illogical. I can’t explain fully how my magic works, because it would be a spoiler.

But I can say that my magic is science, truly, and that’s why I think it’ll be fun to read.
That’s what makes my magic unique. My magic is not magic. Sort of like how the newer Batman movies are better than the old ones, I feel like my magic will be better because it’s grounded in reality.


It’s all the color and wonder 

-without the gaping hole in the logic. It’s all the intrigue and spectacle without the need for the reader to make the jump of assumption. I’ve read quite a few books with magic, and at some point, it always seems to become an easy-out for the protagonist. I mean, JK’s timeturner… Just go back and kill Voldemort. You don’t have to go back to his childhood, just find out when he’s vulnerable (surely, he sleeps, eats, etc). That was magic without a chain to ground it. Prophecies in books drive me nuts. “The ancients prophesized the return of the Great Warrior to slay the Beast.” That is magic without logic.

I want to know why magic works. I want to know where it came from. I want to know the limitations. I want to know why it exists in the first place. Who first knew about it. When. Where. And, that’s all answered in The Unraveler, and I’ve made it into something I’ve never seen done in literature before.

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