Anya is a young woman who is raised in a simple farming community, and is content with the life she will eventually lead as a wife and mother. She is ostracized from the family and village she loves when it is discovered that she has magical powers, which are only used by evil in her world. She has to learn to make her way in the world alone while attempting to control these powers.
Eventually, it will come to light that she has been prophesied to lead the world she knew in a great battle against an undiscovered enemy. She'll find few friends along the way, and will have to convince the "powers that be" that she is simply interested in saving the people, not in power for herself.
You need to come up with ideas on how you can make this different from all the other fantasy novels out there with the same basic plot.
Have you ever been to one of OSC's presentations on ideas? They're sometimes called "1000 Ideas in an Hour."
What he does is get the whole group going in suggesting ideas, and he shows how you have to toss the first few ideas because they are the ones that everyone will think of. You have to dig deeper and find the ideas that only you would think of.
For fantasy stories, he focusses on the price of the magic, so I'd suggest that you think about all the different kinds of prices that a magician might have to pay in order to be able to do magic. Then pick something really cool to be the price your main character has to pay because of the magic she has to do.
If you like, you can start brainstorming about magic prices here in this topic.
One more thing, you should think about what there is about the price of magic in your world that makes magic only something used by evil. And then ask yourself how your main character keeps from becoming evil because of her magical powers.
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Going along with what Kathleen said, I was reading in "Characters and Viewpoints" by OSC to take a basic idea that put a twist to it. Like asking why a character did something but instead of taking the first couple of ideas that pop into your head put a twist to them.
I had found myself doing that at times even though I didn't have a name for it. To me the first ideas were usually to common place or over used, or as I like to say cliche-ish.
One more thing, are there still evil magic users around? All of them in the dust bin of history?
Yeah, I definitely feel the cliche in this idea, which is why I turn to all you smart people. I know I need to add something more to the story; her character is what is sticking with me, and I feel like her story needs to be told--that of giving up everything to accomplish something greater, even though she doesn't know that's where she's headed in the beginning. Again, pretty cliche, but she's been rolling around in my head for a few months now waiting for her story to be told.
I've been pondering the price of magic after reading around on the boards, but no great ideas yet. I've thought about it feeding on the life energy of others, which is why only the evil in the world use it at present, but haven't been able to think of Anya's way around that yet. Any brainstormed ideas are welcome!
The use of the power could be instinctual at first but increasingly addictive. Even as she stands in front of the world's leaders, she doubts her own intentions. Does she want to save the world, or has she been looking for excuses to push the limits on her abilities?
Magical powers could be tied to "evil" creatures or callous gods that are rarely acknowledged. The creatures or demons influence magic users' thoughts, twisting them to dangerous actions. Or, the definition of good is so narrow that concern for non-humans is seen as evil--an undermining of humans security in the natural order.
Love the instinctual/addictive idea; when the power first manifests itself, she's not sure what it is, but loves the feeling. Part of her initial conflict is why her family would kick her out for something that seems benign and good.
Unrelated: just thought about tying it in to water somehow? Or is that too Dune-ish?
The "magic" in DUNE came from Spice, not water, so you're safe there.
Since our bodies are mostly water, would using magic dehydrate someone? Or are you thinking that the magic involves manipulating water? And so evil magicians manipulate the water in people's bodies to force them to do things?
Now that is an interesting idea, the use of magic dehydrates the user. I have read various stories where magic did something to the user. Using up their life energy and making them grow old faster seems to be a popular harm. This would be different.
Maybe that is one reason they were thought to be evil, water disappeared when they were around, because it was used in magic.
If you want a real twist, She wants to be evil and all the power it entails, and things keep getting in the way. She knows what she has to do. She is forced to do good, and do things with good intentions. That weakens her powers and sets her back from her goals. It is frustrating, each time she seems to get to a higher level of power, she has to do good, be caring, be kind, help others even accidentally, which takes her away from her ultimate goal. You could have it that she learns a new spell or new power only to lose it because her kindly heart undoes her. For this, in the final acts, she has a choice, become all powerful evil or give it up through her good actions of defeating the forced that she was destined to meet.
I don't know if you can write someone who is evil (Darth Vadar type evil, not Emperor type), but if done well, it would be an interesting read. Part of her problem might be her hormones. They bring the mother out of her and trips her up.
Another idea is that she sees she is prophesied to lead in a great battle, and she does everything she can to avoid the prophesy. It is the wrong thing for her to do as it keeps placing her right where the action is. That would be sort of like avoiding where the army is supposed to be, and ends up in the path where the enemy is sneaking in from.
Another idea is where there is actually two undiscovered enemies, and if she gives up her powers, she fights one, if she develops her powers, she fights the other. She, of course, chooses a middle ground and ends up fighting both.
Spice rather than the water gave people on Dune supernatural powers, if I remember correctly.
How is water evil? Let's see...a group of magic-users in the recent past flooded a large, well-known city. Another group of them traveled within rivers and appeared in lakes to fight for a country that lost in a world war; the stories of these magic-users popping out of the water to slaughter people induced aquaphobia throughout the world. Babies were sacrificed to the water god. Whatever the reason, enough people in the world would need to associate water magic to evil to make it fit with your basic plot.
The water would be used in the creation of magic, so the planet becomes barren, at least where the magic users have been, which made me think of Dune, even though that's really Spice.
So in order to avoid using the water from their body, those who use magic need to take it from the area around them, which makes everyone else feel suppressed/angry/mistrusting, etc. Anya will need to find another source of water, or another way to use it--perhaps some untapped source? Or maybe another source altogether besides water that will serve the same purpose?
I like where this idea is headed, thanks for the great idea flow everyone!
I think the cliche is in the "prophecy" part... that's been done a lot, and is too-often just pasted on top, apparently as a means of ensuring that the affected character(s) can't escape their foreordained fate. IMO this usually weakens the story.
I do really like the ideas about water-magic, tho. That could be a good (drain the swamp) or an evil (parch the cropland). Seems to me it also implies that magic-users often wind up living in swamps, or on islands out in the ocean, or...
<blink> What happens when the water is frozen, or in cloud form? Or bound, such as in a chemical compound?
[This message has been edited by Reziac (edited April 10, 2011).]
Reziac, funny you mentioned the frozen part--last night I kept dreaming about what could be done with the polar caps on the world. I think there's a Kenobi-type living there who becomes her mentor, teaches her how to use the water properly. The rest of the magic users (evil) are all too lazy/weak in their power to use it the right way, which is why they are draining the land. And I think the prophecy cliche is true, thanks for pointing that out. I think I was going more for there's some threat that only she can handle, since she's more powerful than anyone currently on the planet...
rstegman, love the evil idea, but Anya's not her...I will definitely file that away for later...
[This message has been edited by tripper (edited April 11, 2011).]
I think I've stumbled on an epiphany (is that possible?) with this idea, through OSC's talk on combining two ideas. I have a sci-fi short story about a man whose job is to find lost souls. What if I combine that with this and make Anya's job to find magic users--as a cop or something--then she discovers she is one herself? Pretty sure this isn't original or anything, but with the use of water magic that we are exploring here, it presents some interesting possibilities.
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