21st Century Magic Prologue

01 Jun 2006 08:23 #5658 by YAGS
21st Century Magic Prologue was created by YAGS
As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned, I started writing a series of stories over two years ago about magic returning to the modern world in force. I call it the 21st Century Magic series.

I wrote a prologue two years ago, with the intent of tacking it on to the beginning of every story in the series to establish the setting. However, with workshops limited to 1000 words, I haven't actually done that yet here, especially since the original prologue was over 1000 words by itself.

The one story I did attach it to was never posted here, because it's off topic. But I posted that story on a giantess forum, and someone pointed out that my prologue was long and unwieldy. Now that I'm making a serious effort to improve as a writer, I went back and read it again, and I definitely agree.

So I rewrote it. Not quite from scratch, but it seems that way in some sections. The result is MUCH shorter and to the point. So here it is.

Please tell me what you think. Constructive criticism is especially appreciated. As I said, I'm seriously trying to improve my writing.

21st Century Magic



There have always been practitioners and believers in magic, but before Revelation Day, they were seen as frauds or dreamers. But since that historic day, the entire world has become believers.

That was the day, early in the 21st Century, when a mage of incredible power tried to take over the Earth. He started by attacking the President of the United States in front of a live, global television audience. He was killed by a government agent possessing magic of her own.

The American government admitted that it had known about the magic all along. They explained that magic goes through cycles, and after centuries of little or no magical energy, it was rapidly returning. The government had been secretly recruiting and training magical agents to defend against criminals and terrorists who might use this power for their own nefarious schemes.

Since that day, more and more people around the world have gained magical abilities. Some develop innate powers without even trying, while others study arcane spells and rituals to bring out the magic they hope is within them. Once they attain “the gift”, some rise in power quickly, learning new spells and developing wondrous new skills, while others seem forever limited to lower levels of ability.

Besides the rise of magic in people, some mythological animals have also been spotted. The best known is a dragon that appeared over Tokyo two years after Revelation Day. After destroying a commercial airplane, this real life “Godzilla” was killed by the Japanese military. There have also been numerous reported sightings of “Bigfoot”, unicorns, faeries, and other mythical creatures all over the world.

As the magic continues to spread, some trends have become obvious regarding those who gain magical powers. For one, most are healthy and physically fit. Very old, sick, or obese people almost never gain magical abilities, nor do children prior to puberty. Also, while there are quite a few powerful mages of both genders, the magically talented women seem to outnumber the men considerably.

It’s still a very small minority of people that are magically gifted, and there is some fear and prejudice against them. No two people have exactly the same abilities, or the same ideas for how to use them. Some use magic for fun, convenience, or to achieve honest goals, while others use it for mischief or crime.

The Earth is a very different place since Revelation Day. Magic has returned to the world.

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01 Jun 2006 10:25 #5659 by yaracyrrah
Replied by yaracyrrah on topic Re: 21st Century Magic Prologue
Neither of the stories you've already posted here has needed any prologue, and you didn't have to go out of your way to explain the background within either story. When publishing in a magazine, every story must be self-contained lest the audience lose interest, but free on the web (or later in an omnibus edition, if you ever go pro :) ), a little mystery is alluring, literally. The titles and your standard disclaimer make clear that this is a series, and here at least the archive shows which stories were written first; it won't be hard for a reader to play catch-up if he feels too confused. (But personally, you're nowhere near my tolerance for--nay, my enjoyment of--confusion.) You'll have plenty of space and time, especially in the longer stories, to show-not-tell the full, detailed background. The story will eventually tell itself if you let it flow.

But it's not like I've ever published anything, so take this with salt. (I try, but nothing good enough yet.) Just my $.02.


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01 Jun 2006 18:44 #5668 by argonaut
Replied by argonaut on topic Re: 21st Century Magic Prologue

In both of the stories you've posted so far, I think you struck just the right balance: You provided enough back-story to orient your readers, but you didn't overburdern them with exposition. So your prologue isn't necessary for understanding and enjoying your stories.

Furthermore, the prologue seems disproportionately long in relation to the stories.

If you don't want to discard the idea of a prologue altogether, you could do one of two things: Distill it down to a few sentences (like the text that introduces each episode of Star Trek) or expand it into a stand-alone story.

You might try incorporating little details into your stories that would fill in the history of your fictive world. For example: A suburbanite is chatting with his next-door neighbor; after remarking on the weather and the previous night's ball game, he casually mentions an infestation of pixies under his sun-deck. Or a character visiting Tokyo drops by the Dragon Museum, where the monster's skeleton is on display. These asides would remind the reader that this is a world very much like our own, but with plenty of striking differences.

I look forward to more of your 21st century magic!

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02 Jun 2006 01:17 #5670 by Jabbrwock
Replied by Jabbrwock on topic Re: 21st Century Magic Prologue
I'll say it's a nice prologue. Perhaps not truly needed, but nice. If you ever get together a site of your own and host your 21st Century Magic stories as a collection, the prologue might help explain how they're tied together, but since they stand well on their own, you don't necessarily need a prologue.

If you do want a prologue/story entry teaser, something like the Star Trek prologue or the Babylon 5 prologues or the Prey prologue would be a good choice. Don't go nuts explaining everything, just set up the mood.

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02 Jun 2006 02:26 #5673 by YAGS
Replied by YAGS on topic Re: 21st Century Magic Prologue
Ok, so the consensus seems to be that the prologue is unnecessary, and too long for the stories I've posted here so far.

Fair enough, but the stories I posted here aren't really typical of what I was planning for the series. My stories on SWM were all specifically written for the workshops with a maximum 1000 word limit, although I gave up on making The Pool Toy that short and submitting it in the workshop.

The original plan was for much longer stories. Many of my story ideas still fit that plan, although I'll admit that after getting over my initial misgivings, I'm enjoying the challenge of the shorter workshop stories. My latest story ended up being exactly 1000 words, and I'm done a full month and a half before the deadline. :)

Just as an example, my first story was 9 chapters and an epilogue, totalling over 13,000 words. So the prologue (which was over 1000 words before I cut it down to this version) didn't seem as excessively long by comparison. It was too long, though, which is why I wrote this version, which is less than half the original length.

Another example is my Celebrity Superagent story. The 1000 words that I submitted to the last short format workshop was just a preview of that story. The plan is still to expand it into many chapters and keep it going a while. That character is actually mentioned in the prologue. She's the agent who saves the president on Revelation Day, and Chapter 1 of that story begins a couple of hours after that event, with the preview scene that's already posted here taking place the following evening.

So while I try to make the prologue unnecessary, especially in the shorter stories, I think it's nice to have for the longer ones. That was pretty much the whole idea.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback.


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