📰 Sanderson's First Law | Brandon Sanderson
Full Title: Sanderson's First Law | Brandon Sanderson
A good magic system should both visually appealing and should work to enhance the mood of a story. It should facilitate the narrative, and provide a source of conflict.
Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.
“Well,” I said. “Obviously magic has to have rules.”
And every other person on the panel disagreed with me violently. “If you have lots of rules and boundaries for your magic,” they explained, “then you lose your sense of wonder! Fantasy is all about wonder! You can’t restrict yourself, or your imagination, by making your magic have rules!”
If we simply let ourselves develop new rules every time our characters are in danger, we will end up creating fiction that is not only unfulfilling and unexciting, but just plain bad.
By holding back laws and rules of magic, Tolkien makes us feel that this world is vast, and that there are unimaginable powers surging and moving beyond our sight.
If the reader understands how the magic works, then you can use the magic (or, rather, the characters using the magic) to solve problems. In this case, it’s not the magic mystically making everything better. Instead, it’s the characters’ wit and experience that solves the problems.