Last October, debut Middle Grade novelist Edith Cohn and her editor Susan Dobinick (FSG) teamed up to present a SCBWI lecture about using magic in books for children. One might think that it's anything goes. But if you've ever tried to create a magical world of your own on paper, you know that's simply not the case. In order for the magic to be believable, for it to really work, there are definitely a few tricks to keep up your sleeve. Thankfully, the dynamic Cohn-Dominick author-editor team shared some of their own tried and true tips. As usual, here are three of their many excellent points that I'll share with you:
1. NEVER use magic as a crutch for character building.
2. When dealing with magic, not every question will be answered, and that’s okay.
3. When creating a magical world, holding back (tiny moments of resistance) can be just as powerful as letting it all out.
Ms. Cohn’s novel Spirit’s Key is a beautiful example of all three points listed above. The novel weaves seamlessly between magical and non-magical worlds as twelve-year-old Spirit Holden waits to inherit her family's gift of seeing the future. Doggy ghosts, mysteries, and adventures ensue! And the magic? It definitely works.
Now, time for me to get back to sprinkling some of that magic into my own writing...