A is for Atmosphere

Magic in the Air

If your world doesn’t have some sort of magic in it, it wouldn’t be fantasy, even if it’s subtle and almost invisible. Calling a work ‘fantasy’ means that something unexplainable is different from how things happen in our real world, regardless of whether your setting is a completely made-up world, an alternate reality, the historical past, or the speculated future.

The presence of magic affects the tone of your story, and the atmosphere of the world you’ve created (even if that creation is just tweaking our own world a bit). How you want your world and story to feel, and the emotions you want to convey to the reader are vital parts of creating your magic system.

Worldbuilding Exercises:

  • Whether you have one type of magic in your fantasy world or several, take a few minutes and write down in one sentence how each type of magic would appear to an outside observer.
  • Figure out 2-3 obvious ways each type of magic influences the world through its existence, and then what would happen if that magic suddenly ceased to exist.
  • Why is the use of magic desirable or detrimental? Is it affected by the magic user, or by the type of magic? What other actions or influences might change someone’s experience with the use of magic?

View 2019 A-Z Participant list here.


  1. This is a tricky one, actually. I’ve often been said in my fantasy stories there’s too little magic to be considered fantasy. But because there is magic anyway, they can’t be considered historicals.
    The woo of labelling…

    1. Maybe paranormal vs fantasy would fit better for your work? It still falls under the ‘speculative’ umbrella, but isn’t quite as in-your-face with the aspects of magic. Or maybe even historical fantasy, where ‘fantasy’ is the sub-genre.

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