I was describing my WIP to a non-writer the other night. I have always considered it to be a middle grade fantasy, and fellow writers and an editor who have read parts of it have all called it fantasy. It has never even been a question: it is fantasy.
So, I am describing it to a non-writer friend. I say that it’s about a princess who ends up being forced to choose between protecting her right to the throne versus helping the greater good of her people. There are no mythical creatures, no witches or wizards, no epic forces of evil. There are mystery elements, references to classic fairy tale themes, and a set of superstitious beliefs that drive much of how my made-up world thinks.
My friend, said, “Well, what about the magic?”
That’s easy, I said. There is no magic.
To which my friend says, “How can you call it fantasy when there’s no magic?"
Hmm…a really good question. There is nothing in my story that defies the forces of nature. All of it scientifically could happen. But it describes a totally made up country and culture with a different history and belief set than any real culture. It deals on a more epic level, in that the stakes for the mc succeeding or not could affect her entire country, not just her own life or the lives of those immediately around her. I could probably go on with this list of reasons why we as writers instinctively characterize books like this as fantasy. And yet – there is no magic.
So I just thought it would be interesting to hear from fellow fantasy writers: how much magic does your story have? And by magic, I mean anything from mythological creatures, to wizards, to a variation of the basic rules of physics, to made-up kingdoms with just enough wisteria to make us feel we’re inside a fantasy world.