B is for Belief

If You Just Believe…

There is power in belief. When you know something as Truth, even if it doesn’t resonate for anyone else, it changes your world. When something requires belief, though, it can quickly overlap with religion. (You may wish to reference my post on worldbuilding religion here, or the same chapter in The A-Zs of Worldbuilding: Building a Fictional World From Scratch.)

There are many ways you can work magic into your world, but when it comes to belief in magic, your decision will need to be if magic simply works in your world because it’s part of the inherent nature of the world, or if it’s a force that must be wielded by choice by practitioners.

Worldbuilding Exercises:

  • Is ‘belief’ in magic required for it to work in your story world, and if it is how is that type of magic religious or not religious in usage?
  • When magic does require belief, what happens if someone’s faith is wavering? Does the magic fizzle out, or does it become distorted? Write out a few situations where it might happen either way for your different types of magic in the story.
  • How much is the use of magic influenced by religion in your world? Are magic and religion inherently entwined, or do they exist exclusively of each other?

View 2019 A-Z Participant list here.


  1. Hi Rebekah! I am so behind it’s not even funny. Work has sidetracked everythign else in my life. Ah, well, I’ll catch up 😉

    In my opinion, how magic works in a fantasy world is the most fascinating on the fantasy questions. Personally, I prefer a magic sistem that is not too invasive. Balls of fire and magic wands are not really for me.
    But of course, it largely depends on how the author use it.

    1. I’m so behind too! Though in my case it hasn’t been work, but the start of garden season. So much to do!

      I also prefer not-too-invasive magic systems, but sometimes it’s fun just to sit back and watch (er, read) impressive acts of magic too!

  2. Interesting points – I never approached magic from the point of view of belief, because to me, in my settings, magic is like physics: something that is, not something to be believed in. It’s a part of the world and its “mechanics”.
    But I can see how it could be interesting bit to create a magic system around.

    1. I find reference pictures to be helpful in nailing down descriptions. Even if you can’t find something exact (especially for fantasy), even something similar can help a lot. And then, of course, it’s just a matter of making sure you’re using the correct words for your description.

  3. randommusings29

    Interesting questions. I’ve never written anything where the practitioners of the magic had to believe. Hmmm you’ve got me thinking now! Thanks 🙂

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