7 Tips to Using Magic Tricks in Fantasy Fiction

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When you think of magic in fiction, you tend to think of fireballs, flight, and all of the flashy spells used in fantasy.  Not surprising since these are the spells that people want to see in these stories.  Yet, there could be a use for the simpler tricks that we have in reality as well as weaker spells that you would learn as a novice.  Writers will overlook them because they are limited or ‘lame’, but including them in a character’s repertoire can open up some opportunities. How?

  1. Never underestimate the ‘sleight of hand’ skill or spells.  We associate this ability to have something appear or disappear from the hand with thieves and bards, but it can be used by others.  A spell version can be used to distract or confuse an enemy.  One trick could be hiding the physical components of a spell or ritual to stop a person from knowing what is going on.  Just sit back and think about the situations that one may need to do this common trick and you’ll come up with some interesting scenes.
  2. Many minor spells are used to create tiny cosmetic changes like altering hair color, adjusting height, or adding a scar.  Obviously, these can help with disguises, but you run the risk of people seeing through the illusions.  Is there another use?  Yes, because you can have a character use these on unsuspecting targets.  For example, change the hair color of a noblewoman and add a mark to her face, which can result in her not getting into a party.  This can cause a big enough racket that the characters can sneak in or she’ll throw her invitation away for them to claim.
  3. Card tricks are another good way to distract or make money through gambling.  A third option is that a character can use these to infiltrate a group.  Funny thing is how many people enjoy card tricks.  They either want to be entertained or are determined to figure out how it’s done.  Both situations mean a character can use it to get attention and possibly make some friends.
  4. Levitation is a big spell that is the first step towards flight for many casters.  It always goes to heavy things and never returns or shows the smaller uses.  This can be considering a magic trick if you levitate a small item and have it move around the room.  Again, we see distractions or entertainment, but there’s more.  A caster can levitate money from a pouch or a saddle to make sure it isn’t properly secured by the rider.  Release your inner imp and think of causing mischief.
  5. Happy Groundhog Day!
  6. A classic is pulling a line of scarves out of a sleeve, mouth, or somewhere.  Not much beyond distractions here unless you get really creative.  The scarves could be needed for disguises or decorations.  Another option is that they can get tangled with people or things since the line is so long.  The point here is that you do need to think and put some work into making some magic tricks work.
  7. Keep in mind that these tricks typically fall under the illusion category.  This means, a target needs to believe that what they are seeing is happening.  Once they realize it’s a trick, they have a higher chance of breaking the illusion.  This is why characters who use these need to either do it stealthily or put on a grand performance.  There really isn’t any middle ground when actual magic is involved.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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17 Responses to 7 Tips to Using Magic Tricks in Fantasy Fiction

  1. L. Marie says:

    Great tips! I’ve never used magic tricks in a story. And now I can’t help thinking of the Now You See Me movies or Zatanna in DC. 😄


  2. Love these tips. My inner imp is always active!


  3. I enjoyed these tips, Charles.


  4. I can see these being useful. Making small items appear to talk as a distraction, etc. Happy Groundhog’s Day to you, too.


  5. This is fun! Magic always is. Nice post, enjoyed it and gave me ideas. 🙂


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