To parallel yesterday’s essay on Magic, another challenge is writing the lack of magic. Or, more correctly, writing a non-magic story in a world where magic exists. My current project, Holver Alley Crew, takes place in a world where magic exists, but none of the main characters use it, and it’s not an element of the plot at all.
But it’s there.
I honestly don’t know how often it’s been done. I should probably do some research on the subject. But I certainly don’t think it’s common.
Someone in one of my critique groups once told me that if magic is in the story, it has to be at the center of the story. I’m not sure if I can agree with that. I mean, in a world where magic exists, it is not (usually) the end-all be-all of life. I would think there are plenty of stories, plenty of lives, which magic is not a part of. It may be a poor analogy, but it’s not like every story that takes place in our world must include nuclear power or jet fighters or even cell phones.
But at the same time, nuclear power and jet fighters and cell phones are around, and their mere existence shapes the world around them, even if the story being told has nothing to do with them.
So that’s the challenge– or, at least, one of them– in the current project. Giving that nod to magic’s existence, while at the same time, communicating well that it’s not part of what’s happening. That challenge, is, at its core, working your worldbuilding into the story.
Of course, doing good worldbuilding, and working one’s worldbuilding well in the narrative… that’s a different discussion.