I've been ignoring one of the first things I learned about writing. How I made it through an outline and a subsequent manuscript without this rule entering my mind is a mystery. Blond moment? Senior blond moment? Nope, not that old. Not yet anyway. So how did it happen? I have no idea, but I have to thank K for mentioning it the other night. She didn't even mean to, but she did, so I'm crowning her genius for the week. I might even make her a tiara.
Some of the most annoying stories that I've ever read ignore the rule that I almost did. They didn't stay within the laws of their own universe. To be specific, there were minimal consequences to using magic. If anyone can use magic, and they can do whatever they want, then it's not magic anymore. It's breathing. Or technology.
My YA novel is about kids addicted to magic. I worked out where the magic came from, what types there were, who had what and how to use it, but I never did figure out how it worked. What happened if they used too much? What do the users have to sacrifice? DUH! What was I not thinking?
So I spent most of my lunch and a chunk of time since I've been home from work trying to sort out the problem. As I've been jotting down ideas I've found that these rules are going to help me. Before I think I had too broad of a scope. Now that it's been narrowed down, I can find more specific problems that will build the conflict and hopefully make my story a better story.
Good thing I was reminded of this before the writing conference I'm going to in 5 weeks. That would have made me look very silly—and I really don't need any help in that department.