Hello, Down-On-Your-Luck Witches and Second-Rate Wizards!
Well well well… [INSERT EVIL LAUGH] It looks like you’ve fallen right into my trap. Best give up the fight right now, my dear, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Magic Won’t Save You
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Magic is often the catch-all of fantasy solutions. The most important and powerful tool in any adventurer’s kit—as long as one knows how to use it. But what happens when even the one thing that seems impossible to beat isn’t enough?
There are many situations in which magic could fall short. A villain who knows your character’s weakness might have them captured. Your character could stumble into a strange place which disables or otherwise interferes with magic. Fighting someone with the same level of magic could mean your character’s magic isn’t much of a trump card. They could be fighting an army, and maybe their magic simply isn’t enough to take all the enemies down. Or perhaps your character is still learning, or otherwise incompetent, and their magic simply isn’t strong enough to save them at this point. And there’s always the things magic usually can’t do: bring back the dead, and make someone fall in love.
Perhaps it’s less about the fact that magic can’t accomplish the task, but rather that the cost—either to the one performing it, and the one it’s performed upon—is so great it’s worse than not working in the first place. Perhaps it can’t save you because, even if it works, it will only drive you further into darkness and despair—further back than square one.
It could be more domestic. Perhaps a student wants to cheat on a test, and their magic solution fails, or else they get caught, and magic won’t save them from the principal. Perhaps magic can’t save a couple—be them a king and queen, or a lower class couple in modern day—from a loveless marriage. Perhaps someone loses an arm, or becomes paralyzed, and magic cannot heal them. Maybe someone is depressed, or struggles with some other mental illness which magic can’t fix.
One of the most interesting aspects of this prompt is that the specific magic system within your universe determines how difficult the bar is to hit. Some magic systems are weaker than others. In that case, there are far more things that magic wouldn’t be able to fix, or save you from. However, for those systems in which it is extremely powerful, the situations it couldn’t fix would have to be a lot more rare, dramatic, and intense.
Playing with different specific, classic types of magic could be fun too. Such as, what could make it so even true love—said to be the most powerful magic of all—isn’t enough to break a curse?
So far I’ve been using the words “won’t” and “can’t” interchangeably, but that distinction could potentially be important. “Won’t” implies a will. What if magic itself is a sentient entity, and—while it can save you—it willfully refuses?
As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In a science fiction story, perhaps the advanced technology— which for all intents and purposes acts as magic— is what cannot save your character. Perhaps, despite all their laser guns, teleporters, fancy spaceships, and force powers, they just can’t win.
Or maybe it’s more real. There are some things in our real world that can be referred to as “magic.” People today often like to peddle solutions to problems that are too good to be true. As The Mad Hatter in Once Upon a Time says “You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” Perhaps you could write about a character who has to learn they’ve been scammed, or to stop chasing magic solutions to their problems, and either pursue something more real, or realize their problem is unsolvable. Or perhaps, instead, they learn magic is real…it just wasn’t what they thought it was.
Many of us write about characters who are powerful beyond belief, who seem impossible to beat, let alone kill. Let’s see how they’re brought low this week, what situations even their immense power cannot save them from, shall we?
Psst. While he’s distracted. Hand me that rope. Also the book, and the knife. Oh, and we’re gonna need that guy’s leg too. Magic might not be able to save us, but I think I can still get us out of here.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.