Do You Have a Conflict with Your Wizard?
December 23, 2012
Is your hero or heroine a wizard, a shaman, a miracle worker, a druid, a witch? Their craft creates conflicts which can add tension to your story. Here are some ideas for your inspiration. Which of these suit your story best?
– The government or the dominant religion persecutes magicians (e.g. witch-hunts), so if she is discovered, she may be tortured or killed. Therefore, she must practice her craft in secret.
– Magic is illegal, so by practising magic, the magician commits a crime and is at conflict with the law.
– Society believes that all magicians are evil, or devil worshippers, or sacrificing children in their rituals, so people shun the magician.
– Many people are frightened of the magician’s abilities and don’t trust her; this makes it difficult to make true friends.
– Some may seek to ingratiate themselves with the magician in the hope of gaining benefits; the magician may realise that the person she thought was a friend was just taking advantage.
– Friends expect the magician to solve their problems magically. They may not accept that the magician is unable to, or that ethic considerations prevent her.
– Whenever something bad happens in the neighbourhood, the magician gets the blame (‘she put the curse on my cow!’ ‘She gave my son the measles by looking at him’)
– Family, friends, a spouse or a lover exerts pressure on the magician to switch to a different form of magic (from secular to religious magic, or from an exotic form to mainstream, or from a minority religion to the dominant religion).
– Family, friends, a spouse or a lover exerts pressure to give up magic altogether.
– The professional organisation to which the magician belongs is using magic in ways the magician considers unethical (e.g. production of magical weapons of mass destruction) and exerts pressure on the magician to get involved.
– The professional organisation disapproves of the magician’s work and threatens to expel her, to withdraw her licence, or to punish her.
– Two magicians are competition: perhaps there’s only enough business for one witch in the village, or only one can get and keep the job of magical advisor to the king
– A rival magician spreads rumours and lies about her in order to undermine her position
– She gets accused of being a charlatan or a fake
– In order to move up in the hierarchy of magicians and attain a prestigious post, she must learn new skills and pass challenges which are beyond her current abilities
– The ruler of the land is a magician and has to use magic to defend the land
– Unscrupulous people try force the magician to work evil magic on their behalf
– The magician may not want to be a magician because she considers it morally wrong, but she has natural ability which manifests itself .
– The magician lives in a magic-phobic society and wonders whether to come out of the closet.
– She feels a strong calling to be a magician, but she is devoutly religious, and her religion forbids magic.
– Her needs could be fulfilled with magic, but they clash with her ethics (e.g. the man she loves doesn’t requite her feelings. With a spell, she could make him love hers. But interfering with another person’s free will is unethical).
– She could alleviate another person’s suffering with magic, but only if she breaks an oath and uses magic the way it’s not meant to be used. (e.g. An unemployed person desperately needs a job, and would get one if the rival dropped out. The magician could make the rival sick on interview day, so the needy person gets the job. But causing harm to someone is against magical ethics.)
I recommend choosing at least one inner and one or two outer conflicts. These can be in addition to non-magical conflicts your story explores. Choose conflicts which suit your story, your genre, your period, and your character. If possible, select conflicts which illustrate or enhance your novel’s theme.