Last week, I wrote tips for writing battle scenes. This week I thought I would talk about magical battles because any good book about sorcerers or wizards needs at least one magical duel.
Now last week I talked about watching movies or TV series to get ideas for good battle scenes. And while there are movies with magical battles, a majority of them seem to rely on blasting each other with energy bolts or hurling the other wizard into a wall. While this makes a great visual impact, it doesn’t make for exciting reading. It can leave the reader wondering why they are using magic anyway.
Writing a magical battle can be tricky. Even though this is a battle of magic in a fantasy world, you still have to follow rules that make sense. (Need help on that? Check out my blog on creating rules for magic.) What good is it if your wizard can cast a spell to kill all enemies? There simply would be no conflict. As with all magic, everything has to have limitations and consequences. Make sure those are reflected in your duel.
And write beyond just energy bolts coming out of their staff or their fingers. Expand the battle to other spells such as freezing a person, turning them into another creature, have the wizards create armies out of sticks…and the list can go on. Be creative. Readers love to see something new and unpredictable.
You will also need to know how the magical spell will make the person hit with it feel. Does it tingle and make them feel sleepy or is it like their skin is being peeled off of them? The other person’s reaction to the spell may be more important that the spell itself.
But unless you want your sorcerer to always win, you need to have them have a weakness or a way for the other side to combat the spells. In my The Elemental trilogy, if the wizard loses their concentration, their spell is broken. But perhaps in your story, using spells may drain the user. Or someone with an innate magic may be limited by their surroundings.
And as with any battle, be prepared to have injuries or even deaths result from the use of magic.
Magic can enhance a fight scene but it should be interesting rather than just violent. The magic is actually secondary. The battle must still advance the story. Don’t just throw in a battle because you want to have one. There still must be a conflict the precipitates the battle. But adding magic can make it more exciting.
Here is an excerpt of a magical duel from my current work-in-progress, Destiny: Book Three of The Elemental. In this case, Selda uses spells but Lina possess an innate ability to control the elements.
A thin, transparent film rose quickly from the ground in front of her. It was circular with a shimmering quality that reminded Lina of a soap bubble. It expanded slowly as it floated toward her. Lina quickly called the wind to brush it away. The wind swirled around the bubble but didn’t stop its advance. Suddenly, the bubble rushed toward her, enveloping her before she could even take a step backward. A yellow mist began to fill the bubble. Lina coughed as she waved her hands in front of her face.
Selda laughed. “I shall have your power.”
Lina’s eyes grew heavy, and she fought to keep her attention on the woman walking toward her. She knew she must stay awake. Dimly, she heard Zoot calling her. She put her hands forward, touching the now solid bubble. Her eyes darted around the empty room, searching for something she could use against Selda. Her power pulsed through her as she focused on the floor before Selda. The boards burst, showering bits of wood in all directions. But Lina didn’t stop there. The hard-packed ground beneath the floor crumbled quickly. The hole she created expanded so rapidly that Selda fell into it before she even knew what Lina had done. Her concentration broken, Selda’s spell fell apart and Lina collapsed upon the floor as the bubble burst. The yellow vapor dissipated into the room. Lina lay on the ground gasping for breath.
Selda scrambled out of the hole. Her face was contorted with fury. As she glared at Lina, Selda quickly released her next spell. Lina started to rise but suddenly was slammed back to the ground. She turned her head, catching sight of a red vapor in the form of a long coil. It slithered over her like a snake, pinning her to the floor. Lina called the wind to brush away the vapor, but it continued to hold her firmly to the ground.
The words she heard Selda begin to murmur filled Lina with fear. She had heard them before. Selda was performing the spell that would release her Elemental powers. While Selda would gain the power, Lina would lose more than just her power. She would lose her life. She unleashed a wall of fire right in front of Selda, who stumbled backwards in surprise.
“Nice try.” Selda laughed as she waved her hand, vanquishing the fire.