The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….

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Quote of the Day: The Object of Fiction…

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Magic In Fiction: Common Threads I’ve Observed

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I really enjoy reading books that involve magic. I think I’m so attracted to this aspect of fiction is because the first book that really got me into reading was a YA Fantasy novel that was all encompassing magic. Not to mention you can get very inventive with magic, its properties, and uses.

I’ve been meaning to write this posts since way last year, but never really got around to written it. Originally, the idea was to write a general discussion about magic in fiction. But I was recently more inspire to write a post about the types and usages magic in fiction, the common threads I’ve observed through extensive reading.

Nature / Elements / Seasons

Magic that comes from the land. Elemental magic associated with fire, water, wind, air, earth, metal, lightning, wood, etc. Magic derived from the four seasons: spring, summer, winter, autumn. This type may also present itself as the ability to communicate with animal life.

Everyone Has Magic

A magical society in which everyone has and can use magic.

NOT Everyone Has Magic

A world in which a group of people or country have magic but others don’t. Sometimes the separation is between humans and magical beings.


In which magic in general or a particular magic is passed down through a familial, maternal or paternal bloodline.


Magic that is conducted through objects, typically staves, wands, swords, rings, orbs, rocks/stones, arrows, etc.

Spells / Incantations

An arrangement of words cast in order to use magic, sometimes involving or learned from a book of spells.

Mages / Wizards / Witches / Magicians

General names for magic users (if a story chooses to use these titles).

Seers / Oracles

Characters who can foresee the past, present and/or future. This is done through visions, bowls of water, looking into fire, or looking into an orb. These characters can be interpreted as having magic or mediators of a higher being. This ability is unpredictable.

Gifted / Bestowed

Characters referred to as being “Gifted” – or some other such title denoted to magic users – with magic or have magic given to them. This sometimes occurs through a higher being or god, depending on the universe.


Magic possessed by a particular individual that is predicted to do great harm or good, the views and expectations of which are discerned depending on how one interprets the prophecy.

Magic That Manifests Later

A character who possesses magic since birth but doesn’t know it. This character will grow up in a normal, human way until a certain event incites the magic within to manifest.

These are different variations and characteristics of magic I’ve seen in books I’ve read; each one observed occurring in more than one book.

What do you think about magic in fiction? What other types of magic would you add to this list or include with what’s already listed? I’d love to hear what you think about this topic.


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A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon

Continuing from yesterday’s post concerning adaptation, I wanted to share with you all a great, insightful text on said subject: A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon. I discovered this book in school for class. It’s rather intriguing how Hutcheon closely examines adaptation across media platforms and how it coincides with storytelling. I can only recommend the 2nd Edition, Paperback, 2012/2013 version of the book as that is the copy we learned from – I don’t know how different or same the over editions are from this one.

Image via Goodreads

Summary (via Goodreads):

A Theory of Adaptation explores the continuous development of creative adaptation, and argues that the practice of adapting is central to the story-telling imagination. Linda Hutcheon develops a theory of adaptation through a range of media, from film and opera, to video games, pop music and theme parks, analyzing the breadth, scope and creative possibilities within each.

This new edition is supplemented by a new preface from the author, discussing both new adaptive forms/platforms and recent critical developments in the study of adaptation. It also features an illuminating new epilogue from Siobhan O Flynn, focusing on adaptation in the context of digital media. She considers the impact of transmedia practices and properties on the form and practice of adaptation, as well as studying the extension of game narrative across media platforms, fan-based adaptation (from Twitter and Facebook to home movies), and the adaptation of books to digital formats.

A Theory of Adaptation is the ideal guide to this ever evolving field of study and is essential reading for anyone interested in adaptation in the context of literary and media studies.


Book Specs, according to Goodreads:
First Published: 2006 by Routledge

Cover Edition Published (shown above): August 27th 2012 by Routledge
Paperback | Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, Academic, Reference


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Suggested Texts for Fiction & Poetry Writers

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In any profession, no matter what level you’re at, it’s always good to have a few texts related to your job that you can refer back to if need be. Sure a quick Google search or asking someone else in your field can provide you the answers you’re looking for, but to have a comprehensive guide on hand is also helpful (just in case).

Below are books that I like particularly and have on my shelf. These books provide clear information on various aspects of writing, along with plenty of examples to support each author’s claims.


First off, find a thesaurus/dictionary that you enjoy. Writers we may be but even we aren’t infallible to being at a loss for words.


Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief by David Starkey
© 2009 by Bedford/St. Martin’s

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Provides guidance on writing poetry, short-short stories, short creative nonfiction, and ten-minute plays. Includes an anthology of selected works for each genre.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway (with Susan Weinberg)
6th Edition © 2003 by Longman

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Details narrative fiction from conception of ideas to how to begin to revisions. Includes selected works in each chapter as examples.

Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich
2nd Edition © 2008 by Writer’s Digest Books

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Geared towards where to find ideas for fiction, all parts of writing fiction (setting, pov, dialogue, etc.), and suggested practices for revision. Back of text includes selected short stories.

These are just suggestions. If you have any suggestions for texts or better ones, leave them in the comment section below. I’m always looking for more reference material to add to my shelf.


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Comedians & Writers: A Parallel

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Here’s a recent thought I had recently: Comedians and Writers have a lot in common. I’ve never noticed much parallel between the two before until I really thought about it. When you watch a comedian (or a show that is comedy in genre) you can see in the preparation and execution common threads writers must keep in mind (and demonstrate) when going about their own work. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Tough Skin Is Your Best Defense

Writers (and Comedians) must know (or will come to know) that not everyone is going to like what you write (say)…and that’s okay. You won’t win everyone over whether the story is good or bad. It’s impossible to do so. You’re likely to fail several times, get your submission rejected several times, before you lock into your own groove. And that’s okay. Actually, that’s life. You’ll stumble, you’ll fall. It’s how you pick yourself back up that matters. Keep going. If becoming a writer (or comedian) is what you really wish to pursue, then you gotta cloak yourself in tough skin and keep moving forward.

Storytelling That Hooks

Jokes come with a story. And you have to weave and guide your audience through it. It’s never a straightforward path. Body language (your character’s actions), diction (the right words in the right order), tone (how characters express themselves or react to things; individual voices), and action (what is going on) all move the joke/story towards the punchline/climax. What you mean to achieve needs to hook your audience and be compelling enough to hold their attention for an entirety story. Kevin Hart’s stand-up comedy is a good example of captivating storytelling.

Memorable Lines and Scenes

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From comedy, a writer may learn in turn how to craft comedic scenes and dialogue. Whether it is to provide comic relief or make a character more endearing, being able to insert humor into your fiction is a good skill to have. Sketch comedy (like SNL or In Living Color) or comedy based television shows/movies (like The Office or The Big Bang Theory) are great places to learn how to write and execute comedic scenes and dialogue. Furthermore, The Office offers up good examples of memorable lines (i.e. the famous “that’s what she said” line) and of course there’s The Big Bang Theory‘s well-placed “bazinga.” Writers should strive to give readers lines and scenes worth remembering.

“Confident” Is Your Middle Name

Being a comedian requires confidence. Being a writer requires confidence. Likes and dislikes are always in the eye of the beholder. You must be bold and convincing to win your audience over to your side. Persuasion is the name of the dance. Take the improve comedy show Impractical Jokers. More often than not you’ll see those four guys (Joe, Murr, Sal, and Q) have the guts and confidence to convince strangers of the ridiculous things they do and say. It’s astonishingly hilarious and the improv is on point. A writer needs to have confidence in their words and use the active voice. Persuade the reader that yes this world you’ve created does exist and they’re just temporarily vacationing in it.

A Reflection of the Self

Comedy and Fiction are often a reflection of the self, wherein all that we are and all that we were and all that we hope to be are layered in what we try to convey. Any comic will tell you that comedy tends to comes from a place of pain, and how they have dealt with that pain is through laughter. In writing, we express ourselves or try to make sense of the world we live in.

What are your thoughts on the similarities (or differences) between comics and writers? These were just thoughts I’d been tossing around recently so I’m curious as to what you all think. Let me know in the comment section below.


Other Funny Shows I Recommend:
Key & Peele
The Mayor
Family Guy
Parks and Recreation
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (also with Trevor Noah)
Whose Line Is It Anyway?