The tagline of this blog is “writer at play”, but my attitude towards my literary endeavors is more akin to steely-eyed clenched-teeth fortitude these days. I was eyeball-deep in one set of revisions for a couple months; I have since waded into yet another novel revision. While revisions do have their moments of mountain-high elation, I’ve missed just being playful with the writing and storytelling process.
So, to rectify this, I propose to post some kind of fun (playful!) creative exercise every week or so, if only to get my own juices flowing. This week’s exercise is a new magical system, inspired by Miss M.
Miss M., like other three year old girls, loves to dress up. Her base outfit may look something like this: a pink and brown striped and dotted dress (she LOVES dresses), tights with large polka dots (orange being the dominant color), and over that, bright green pants with a large floral pattern. She proceeds to embellish this outfit with any or all of the following: pink socks, ballet slippers, a fairy princess costume, a hat from Africa, mittens, apron, chef’s hat, tiara, plastic rings, beaded necklace, jingle bell bracelet, assorted pieces of winter gear. She isn’t above snitching her father’s comfy slippers, either.
One day, while watching Miss M dance around completely oblivious to the fashion horror sight she presented, I was struck by an idea for a new magical system. What if, said Right Brain, there existed a society in which magical spells were woven into articles of clothing? And the only way to utilize those spells would be to actually wear them? (Or is it the other way around? You could only use spells that were in contact with your skin, so that’s why you put them into clothes in the first place).
First and furious, other ideas and implications came pouring in:
The spells are closely tied to the physical aspect of the clothing. Type of fabric, dye, pattern, cut, embroidery–all played a big part. In order to modify a spell, you can add embroidery, put on a button, take off an inch of hem.
In order to maximize the number of spells available to you, you would try to wear as many clothes as you could. This society would have to live in a cold climate. Otherwise, it might be too hot and uncomfortable to be a magic-user!
Spelled clothing would be passed down through many generations–the bodice of Great-Grandma’s wedding dress could end up in Romilda’s coming-out gown, or as part of Uncle Abernathy’s vest. Magical items would be concentrated in the hands of families, rather than individuals.
Every magic-user (male or female) would strive to be a very good tailor!
The rich would have an advantage in being able to afford better quality materials.
Ballrooms would become the battlegrounds. Armor would be fans, jewelry, vests, shoes.
Imagine, the Underthings of Invincibilty. Ha!
And, best of all, people would match their clothing, not in terms of color or style, but with an eye to complementing magical power. So, why not wear a chef’s hat on top of a tiara, or mismatched mittens?
Your turn! Have you read or come up with any unusual magic systems (allomancy in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn springs instantly to mind)?