I like puzzles. I always have. I have fond memories of sitting for hours with my grandma building huge, complicated jigsaws. Back then she had all the puzzles. I now own a small selection and my kids have a larger selection we build together (they aren’t quite ready for my thousand-plus piece puzzles).
World building is a different kind of puzzle – one you have to see entirely in your mind. But it’s equally fun figuring out all the little details.
The area of focus this week? How to have my main character pay the price of using magic without her realizing she’s paying a price. She doesn’t know, yet, that she has magic, and in this world there is a cost for magic (I know some stories don’t have a cost for magic, but this story does).
I’m not saying she turned an entire forest, or even a tree, into giant feathered birds without knowing it. But she does go into the realm of visions and stretching beyond the normal human bounds.
Regardless, she has a cost to pay. The trick is to have her pay it without her understanding that’s why she’s sick. It needs to be organic and with enough layer the reader will be suspicious, but not certain. I’m more than happy to shock my characters, but I don’t believe in blindsiding the reader – generally speaking.
Making a story believable is in the details, and making certain those details are true to the world being created. It’s a lot of mental puzzling, but for a good story, it is well worth it.