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magical objects

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prairiegirl

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I'm interested to know what people think about the use of a 'magical object' in a story? In this new story I'm working on, my MC comes across an old radio that 'seems to have magical properties'. However, given the thoughts expressed on another thread here, I'm wondering if this comes into play as a 'multi-dimensional travel'? The MC will travel to other times but always on earth and always for short periods of time. So, would the workings of the radio have to be explained? Will the readers want/need to know how the radio is accomplishing all this?

Thanks :snoopy
#1 - July 09, 2010, 01:11 PM

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So, would the workings of the radio have to be explained? Will the readers want/need to know how the radio is accomplishing all this?

Yes.

It is always best to explain the ingenuity of all elements in your world. Not only does it make the work believable, but it also obliterates that lingering, nagging feeling that all is not well.

Rule of thumb: 1) Less is always more, 2) simple is naturally better and 3) make it a habit to invent unique concepts or theories that the reader can't formulate.

Hope this helps.  :smile

Tyson   
#2 - July 09, 2010, 01:37 PM
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I'm a little confused about what you're asking--do you mean that the radio is a time-travel device?  Are you asking if you need to explain precisely how it works, or just that it does work?



#3 - July 09, 2010, 02:14 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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prairiegirl

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Thanks to both of you! The radio is not exactly a time travel device in that it can't be used indiscriminately It's only a way for this young girl to communicate with her late grandfather who owned the radio. She doesn't really time travel per se, but is transported back to specific moments in time that her grandfather wishes her to see for reasons that become clear as you read the story.

So, somehow, I need to explain how this is happening in technical terms?
#4 - July 09, 2010, 02:36 PM

You certainly need to explain the rules of the road. As Tyson suggested, you don't need to draw up schematics, but the rules should be clear. For example, is the radio a magical/mechanical item like the golden compass, or is it a spiritual connection to her grandmother such as a medium would use to communicate with the departed? Make it only as clear as it needs to be and then stick to your rules religiously.
#5 - July 09, 2010, 02:43 PM
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Meglin

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 I think as a reader it would be  neat to know.  For instance , does it have to be turned to a certain station or a certain song has to be playing for it to work.
#6 - July 09, 2010, 02:44 PM

prairiegirl

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My feeling from the get go has always been that the radio was an object her grandfather loved dearly. Since she never knew her grandfather, the radio serves as a medium for them to get to know each other. It's always a way for him to show her things she needs to know. In that way, it's a spiritual/magical object. But it's not a time travel device per se. I understand about the clear rules though. Much appreciated feedback. 

I never considered that the radio had to be on a certain station, although at one time I toyed with the idea that she turns it on and hears a baseball game. This makes her smile because she knows he / the grandfather loved baseball and died listening to a baseball game (I'm taking this from real life as this happened to my late mother). Perhaps this is the connection.
#7 - July 09, 2010, 02:46 PM
« Last Edit: July 09, 2010, 02:48 PM by prairiegirl »

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I have a magical object in my wip.  The magic has to be consistent and make sense. You don't have to go into all kinds of technicalities ... but it needs to make sense.
#8 - July 09, 2010, 02:50 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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Okay, understand now..and agree with Sam.  Edward Bloor does something similar with a radio in London Calling
#9 - July 09, 2010, 02:50 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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prairiegirl

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when I first wrote this years ago it was an adult story but did not work so I see it working far better for kids; do you see it as a problem that this other book also used a radio?
#10 - July 09, 2010, 03:12 PM

Meglin

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I would think if it is for kids and the other is not that it wouldn't be an issue. I'm not an expert though. Children would definately want to know about the magical radio. For example, why is it only this radio that does this? Did the MC's g-pa leave it to her, or find it in his house?
#11 - July 09, 2010, 03:46 PM

JustinDono

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You do not need to draft schematics and alchemical equations for the reader, no, but you do need to explain the logic behind how it works.  As somebody mentioned already, is the time travel function more in line with some sort of super/mystical science that the Grandfather purposefully implemented, or is it spiritual/purely magic, and after-effect of his soul being attached to  a material object that the granddaughter acts as a catalyst for?  Does she time travel when lightning hit the radio antenna or she asks Gramps for guidance or it's an anniversary or what?  that kind of stuff, yes we need to know.

Saying "Then the radio made her time travel again," is not going to work.  we need some kind of why and how, even if it's still a little vague and keeps the reader guessing.
#12 - July 09, 2010, 05:29 PM

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when I first wrote this years ago it was an adult story but did not work so I see it working far better for kids; do you see it as a problem that this other book also used a radio?

I don't know, prairiegirl--I don't know your story enough to say.  You might want to check out the Bloor book, though, (it's YA, by the way--came out a couple years ago) and see how similar it is to your idea.
#13 - July 09, 2010, 08:04 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

prairiegirl

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|'ve checked out the London Calling book. The premises are not even remotely the same. But there would be a radio involved that facilitates the travel through time. So, it's probably best not to use it. Since the idea is more in the vein thaat JustinDunno has stated, it could be something else the grandfather owned, like a grammaphone. That might be a cool idea since I know a lot about grammaphones. I used to have three of them.

or is it spiritual/purely magic, and after-effect of his soul being attached to a material object that the granddaughter acts as a catalyst for - THIS states it very nicely. I would say a big YES to this.
#14 - July 09, 2010, 08:47 PM

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What about a magical alcohol monitoring bracelet that transports Lindsey Lohan back to the way she was during Mean Girls?  If the other thing doesn't work out, I mean.
#15 - July 09, 2010, 09:35 PM

prairiegirl

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it's too late for her
#16 - July 10, 2010, 07:38 AM

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In the movie Frequency, a son uses a ham radio to communicate with his father who had died but was still living 30 years earlier. The two of them work together to solve a cold case murder. The explanation for the radio being able to do this was that the Northern Lights were particularly active at that time and could be seen all the way down in New York. This is a fairly thin premise, but by the time the "magic" radio appears, I was invested in the personalities of the story enough that I didn't care. Thin or not, the explanation was enough to dismiss the questions and allow me to continue with the story. There was an element of magic to the whole thing, though. The radio was a special bond between father and son that they had shared when the son was a child. It reappears  to reconnect them.

Towards the end of the movie, the radio actually heals itself to resume communication. This may sound cheesy now, but by that point in the movie, it was acceptable even though it wouldn't have been at the beginning, and I think that is the key. Write a story that really pulls people in. Let them get acquainted with and emotionally invested in your characters. Then the readers will be looking for any excuse to believe and continue. Build a world where your premise makes sense. The farther along in the story the reader is and the more invested he is, the more willing he is to accept your explanation.

Don't we all want to believe in a little magic in our lives? Haven't we all experienced something that might fall into the Wow-how-did-that-happen category?  Probably, I've never quite grown up, but I love an element of the unexplained - not Deus ex Machina - but magic.

Laurel  :cupcake

#17 - July 10, 2010, 08:48 AM
« Last Edit: July 10, 2010, 08:50 AM by Pons »

I also like having pink frosted muffins in my life.
 :cupcake  :cupcake  :cupcake
#18 - July 10, 2010, 12:08 PM
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Magic Muffins! or cupcakes.
#19 - July 10, 2010, 01:05 PM

prairiegirl

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magical food! that's my forte - and we all know there's only one magical food - CHOCOLATE! :lol2 :lol2 :lol2 :lol2
#20 - July 11, 2010, 08:13 AM

RyanBruner

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Thanks to both of you! The radio is not exactly a time travel device in that it can't be used indiscriminately It's only a way for this young girl to communicate with her late grandfather who owned the radio. She doesn't really time travel per se, but is transported back to specific moments in time that her grandfather wishes her to see for reasons that become clear as you read the story.

So, somehow, I need to explain how this is happening in technical terms?

See the movie Frequency starring Dennis Quaid.  This EXACT thing was done for that movie. There was a pseudo-scientific explanation given as well.  Basically, an old HAM radio was used to communicate between a father from the 50s I think it was, and his son 30 years later.

Edited to add: Oh...I see Pons made the same recommendation.  Sorry about that.  Didn't notice! 
#21 - July 12, 2010, 07:05 AM

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Great minds, Ryan. Great minds. (grin)

Laurel
#22 - July 12, 2010, 08:48 AM

ecb

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I thought of "Frequency" immediately, too--and when she said "baseball..." yeah, Prairiegirl, you'll need to rent this one.
#23 - July 12, 2010, 02:02 PM

prairiegirl

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Well, if it's the exact same premise, then it's not a good idea. But, I'll rent the film just to be sure. Thanks all. :snoopy
#24 - July 17, 2010, 07:40 AM

Meglin

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Frequency is not a childs movie though. Looking for killer and such.
#25 - August 03, 2010, 10:45 PM

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