Monday, March 4, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Eleven - The Limits of Magic

If the character has no limits to his or her magical powers, the story will be devoid of conflict, so authors have developed many ways in which these limitations can be portrayed. Sometimes the protagonists have only limited magical ability, perhaps because they are an apprentice or otherwise just beginning to learn the craft. Or perhaps they are as yet unaware of their magical talents or how to direct their powers properly. Sometimes they are only able to cast so many spells in a day or in an hour then have to rest or conserve their magical energy. Sometimes a wizard’s powers only work at night, under a full moon, on the first day of the month, in bright sunlight, at high altitudes and so on. They may also only be able to do certain things, but not others. For example, they may be able to walk through walls, but not transport themselves from one place to another.

In Harry Potter, Hogwarts is protected by a series of enchantments to prevent people from transporting into the castle from the outside, otherwise it would be far too easy for the dark forces to triumph. Some spells may be very powerful and ward off even the most dangerous of foes, but expend so much energy that they have to be used sparingly. The writer can thus create an extremely tense situation where an enemy that may make the hero freeze with fear can only be dispelled by an enchantment that almost completely exhausts the hero. He must ensure he gets it exactly right, as there will be little room for error and no second chances.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

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