Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Magic or Swordplay?

I was reading an article on my fellow author's site, Ross Kitson, and he was discussing magic and how it works in your universe, etc. You can see that article here (it's a great read, as is all of Mr. Kitson's works).  That got my wheels turning too, but in a different way.
Wayfarer Mage by William Kenney

I began to think what exactly you as a fan of fantasy, would prefer to read. Do you like sword play, close combat, grappling, martial arts, or battles with the exchange of magical powers?

I have found that both are equally difficult to put onto a page, but in different ways. I've had some martial arts training and understand how the body moves, theoretically and practically, when hit or swiped, etc. There is an amazing science to it. I try to put myself in my characters place when I write the fight scenes, and that can be done with some authenticity. I've luckily never been stabbed or had my guts ripped open, but I can imagine what that might be like. A column of divine energy exploding around my body or magical bolts of arcane energy are a little more difficult!

When writing a scene with magic, however, it is loosely based in reality and needs a bit more imagination. Am I right, my fellow writers? Magic is kind of a 'Deux Ex Machina' when it comes to most stories, but it doesn't have to be. I don't have my problems solved by magic, but instead use it as another tool that is defined by limitations. Magic is just another way to win a fight. So, concluding that point, it is another form of battle, logically defined, and told with a vivid imagination that still uses the framework of physics as best we can. As long as you can suspend you belief long enough to keep reading, it works!

So, what do you like reading more as a fan of fantasy: swordplay or magic?

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  1. I find swordplay a little more difficult to represent, as it's inherently physical, and my writing expresses subjective emotional experience a little more readily.

    It's easier to portray magic symbolically. Not that it's impossible with swordplay, but magic is itself inherent symbolism.

  2. I like swordplay a little better myself. Majic is good in the right context. But in the midle of a large battle when a magician is placed next ordinary men his talents are dimmed in my eyes. I guess I like majic with limits. Clearly defined limits. I have more fun that way. Pardon my shift from Fantasy to Sci Fi but if you look at Star Wars you have a perfect example of swordplay and majic. Lightsaber combat is well defined swordplay. And the Force is essentially majic with clearly defined limits.
    I had a lot of fun writing swordplay in a pirate fantasy setting. But it is more fun bringing extra weapons into the mix like daggers.
    Good post. Thanks. :)

  3. I enjoy both. But then, I like magic that follows Sanderson's Laws of Magic. It really helps to balance out the fight scenes and make magic less deus ex machina, as the characters are only allowed to successfully use magic to solve problems in relation to how well they understand the magic. That, and there's a focus on their weaknesses as well as their strengths. :-)