The Power of Words
Fantasy and mythology is full of examples of different types of curses, and indeed, a world with magic almost always has the challenge of a curse that must be broken or prevented. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Beauty & the Beast are only a few popular examples.
Curses in stories can serve multiple purposes. They may be a punishment (for offending someone/something, trespassing, etc.), a spell that backfired, or even someone just being in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone was doing a powerful form of magic and getting caught up in it.
The ethics of magic usage within your world and the morals of your characters are another consideration you’ll need to take in regard to curses. We’ll talk about laws governing magic later this month, but laws do not always align with ethics and morals.
- Does magic in your world accommodate deliberate curses, or are they passive occurrences? Can both happen?
- Is any magic practitioner able to cast a curse, or is it limited to certain branches of magic?
- Can a non-magic practitioner cast a curse under certain circumstances? What are some examples of those circumstances?
- Are certain types of curses (changing someone’s hair color, causing food to become dirt in their mouth) more acceptable than others (sleeping for a hundred years, causing physical harm/death, trapping someone in a location)? When does a curse become taboo/forbidden?
- Can curses be broken? If not, why not?
Rebekah Loper began creating epic worlds and stories as a child and never stopped. She is the author of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding series, and has a fantasy novella published in Beatitudes and Woes: A Speculative Fiction Anthology.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (…ok, ok, they’re chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she is not writing, she can be found battling the elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.