Create Magic with Words

Years ago, I took my five-year-old daughter to Toys R Us to meet “Barbie.” “Barbie” turned out to be a cute and charming teenager who, yes, looked like the classic blonde image of the doll. She wore a pretty pink gown.

I expected a lot more fanfare around this event. Like, maybe some cheap swag, a chance to win a Barbie doll or Barbie convertible, or at least a throne for Barbie. Maybe a stage with lots of pink. But she randomly stood in the store. I guess someone who worked there had a pretty teenage daughter willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to wear a pink dress and be nice to little girls and their mothers. I appreciate her efforts, will always remember the event, and hope she’s having a lovely life.

However, this lack of magic explains one of the reasons, to me, why Toys R Us is closing. My most recent trips there made me depressed as I viewed row after row of – stuff. Yet I’m sad to see them go.

When we write and market our books, we must not make this mistake. We can’t let our books languish on the shelf or not jump out at readers as they click through on the Internet. We must make our books spellbinding. By that I don’t mean let’s all write about the evils of witchcraft. I mean, our books must promise – and deliver –  magic.

Nonfiction is the selling of hope. Like Charles Revson, founder of Revlon Cosmetics, said, “We produce cosmetics in factories and sell hope in magazines.” To wit:

  • The marriage book will save your relationship
  • The dating book will help you find your mate
  • The parenting book will earn you a “Parent of the Year” medal
  • The book on guilt or grieving will ease your heart and mind
  • The memoir or biography will inspire and help you learn from another’s mistakes
  • The book on religion will help you understand God

Fiction is its own type of magic:

  • Escaping from boredom, routine, and monotony
  • Learning from the mistakes of characters
  • Thinking about a tough issue in a safe way, through pretend
  • Seeing “what if” without taking risks in real life
  • Falling in love along with a couple
  • Solving “who dunnit” before the big reveal

When you write to spellbind your readers, your books will become magical.

Your turn:

What is the most magical book you’ve read lately.

What other points do you think make a book magical?


23 Responses to Create Magic with Words

  1. Shirlee Abbott July 12, 2018 at 5:14 am #

    The Chronicles of Narnia — where everyone except Aslan makes mistakes. Magic, indeed.

  2. Sharon K. Connell July 12, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    The most magical book I’ve ever read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (actually from the Hobbit all the way through Return of the King). The story was one where you had to pull for the good guys, and hate the bad guys. Every step of the way was an adventure, and most often a peril to overcome.

    My own genre is Christian Romance Suspense. I don’t write fantasy, but I’d like my Romance Suspense to have that same kind of appeal. Writing that draws the reader in to hope and pray that the main characters will overcome the villain and have a happy-ever-after ending.

  3. Cherilyn Rivera July 12, 2018 at 6:36 am #

    The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith. I loved the story and was especially captivated with her phrasing. I believe it is a YA novel, possibly, but I prefer clean reads, and was used to reading the books my teenagers were reading.

  4. Mark Alan Leslie July 12, 2018 at 6:54 am #

    When I’m SURPRISED by the sheer beauty of a well-crafted sentence, that is “magic” to me.

  5. Mermaid Scribbler July 12, 2018 at 7:08 am #

    Christy Barritt’s World’s Worst Detective series – It’s a fun read with lovable characters. She’s a good storyteller, and the mystery that binds each book together keeps me reading one after another. Good summer fun. Magic!

  6. Sonja Anderson July 12, 2018 at 7:24 am #

    I just finished reading Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas. William Wilberforce lived such an inspirational life of faith, purpose, integrity, and compassion that when he died at the end, I wept as though I had just lost a new, but very special friend. Magic!

  7. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser July 12, 2018 at 7:46 am #

    The essence of magic is Maybe.

    Maybe there is a Narnia that will give meaning to our lost and frightened world, maybe there is a Don Shimoda whose quiet wisdom can make us aware of the reality beyond the veil of life, maybe there is a place where the smallest of people can win the day for all.

    Maybe is Hope, and Hope is Life.

  8. claire o'sullivan July 12, 2018 at 9:00 am #

    Hi Tamela and all,

    How I agree with everyone. So true.

    An aside on Toys R Us. The last time I visited the store, I came across a CSI kid’s kit. I stood and stared at it. My husband said, ‘in no uncertain terms are you getting a CSI kit for kids.’ Ha, ha.

    I write romantic suspense as well. I love magic throughout. How the couple comes close. What the main character knows, and leaves the reader with the ‘what? What? Tellllllll meeeeee!’ A few surprises throughout. Great flaws that the reader doesn’t see at the beginning and a clue here and there.

    And who is the villain? I pick the main character fighting, she is her worst enemy. The other villain is the big surprise (I did not see that coming!’ The final denouement the most horrible of all outcomes with another set of ‘I did not see that one, or THAT one! How could you? Wait! Wow.’

    When we get our readers to remember our characters, that’s the goal. I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I still know all the characters and their flaws. That… was magic.

  9. Nancy Massand July 12, 2018 at 9:25 am #

    There are so many books that transform and transport through the magic of words. But lately? Joy Jorden-Lake’s A Tangled Mercy. Two eras connected by a mystery, and a surprising and satisfying redemption that offers hope for a nation struggling with racial reconciliation. Seamless.

  10. Maggie McKenzie July 12, 2018 at 9:36 am #

    The Seakeepers Daughters by Lisa Wingate. There was a mystery around every corner and I enjoy that. I wanted to get on one of my genealogy websites and find the character for her… but oh yes… this is just a fictional story and she’s not real.

  11. Sara Davison July 12, 2018 at 10:12 am #

    One of the most magical aspects of books to me is the way a writer can use words to weave a picture – sometimes a whole new world – in the mind of the reader, the way an artist wields a paintbrush. A Wrinkle in Time is still one of the most magical books I have ever read.

  12. Joey Rudder July 12, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    I’m reading Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry, and I love how it opens up the spirit realm, revealing what takes place “behind the scenes” as the characters are protected and what’s happening when they’re facing evil. It’s amazing and magical and truly one I HATE to put down!

    I think a book is magical when I feel something. I want to cry. I want to laugh. I want to feel like the characters are sitting down with me and sharing a cup of coffee while they sit back and tell me their stories as we pass a box of Kleenex back and forth.

    And it’s magical if it causes me to stop at the end of a sentence, stare out the window, and contemplate what I just read. I usually talk to God about those deeper moments…and anytime a book leads me closer to Him, well it doesn’t get any better than that. 🙂

  13. Wendy L Macdonald July 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Tamela,

    One of the things that makes a read of any sort magical for me is when words tap into my emotions and evoke laughter, tears, etc. Your mention of walking through the toy store brought tears to my eyes as I was whisked back to my own visit to Toys R Us. Time has flown so fast. Now I am buying toys elsewhere for my grandson.
    The best novel I’ve read lately is: Things I Never Told You (Thatcher Sisters) by Beth Vogt. I’ve just written a review for it on Time to go post it elsewhere so less people miss out on a chance to read it.

    Blessings on your summer,
    Wendy Mac

  14. Janice July 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

    Christian fiction, most all that I have read, has a behind the scenes working out of God’s best plans. That supernatural yet realistic weaving of scenes into a picture of God working through the ugly to bring out good can seem magical.

    As for nonfiction, today I received a book in the mail from a critique partner. The book is entitled Treasured and Teachable: Homeschooling to College with Hope, Joy, and Asperger’s. The author, Liz Bauman, has written a magical book that gives hope to parents of special needs children. Additionally, the book is magical on a personal level because much of it corresponds to my experience in homeschooling a gifted child. I had the pleasure of giving feedback on some of the chapters at Word Weavers meetings. Yes, to see this book in print is indeed magical.

  15. Tamela Hancock Murray July 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm #

    I love all these suggestions and comments! Thank you all so much for sharing!

  16. Janet Brown July 12, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    Yes, hooking the reader from the first page and keeping it with every new page turn is the key. This involves me writing words that ring with conviction and keep the reader on the edge of their proverbial seats.
    I write fiction and I have changed my style of writing to add that bit of a cliff-hanger. It’s so much more enjoyable to write.

  17. Tisha Martin July 13, 2018 at 7:52 am #

    Recently, I judged a book called “Second Life.” In that book, the author writes in first-person narrative about a woman in her late twenties, searching for Prince Charming, who must meet all of these high-level qualifications:

    – Must have read a book in the last six months
    – Must like The Princess Bride (else he is a warthog-faced buffoon)
    – Must not be chained to his parents—and their health insurance

    The comical list went on for two paragraphs, and this was the opening page! While the book lacked some writing quality, the author definitely scored huge in the humor and literary department. The author created a literary-living (no, that is not a misspelling) and captivating character with wit and charm. When the character takes a trip to England, I think she even describes Buckingham Palace in a literary way…

    Therefore, I believe humor and literary charm enhances a story dramatically. I realize not every story will need loads of humor or literary charm, but sprinkling a bit throughout even a thriller or murder mystery adds that “magic” factor all stories crave.

  18. Cathy Krafve July 13, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    I loved Sandra Merville Hart’s “A Rebel in My House.” It’s a luxury for me to get a moment with fiction just for pleasure. Not only did she write a compelling drama, but I came away more educated about the battle around Gettysburg. A win-win for me, as a reader. Pure magic.

  19. Marie Wells Coutu July 13, 2018 at 8:52 am #

    Great post, Tamela! Tolkein and Lewis definitely have that “magic” factor.
    To your list, I would add when the story world becomes real to me, especially if it’s historical (or fantasy) and I feel as if I’m living in that time period, seeing what the characters see and feeling what the characters feel. That’s why Narnia and Lord of the Rings are so powerful.

  20. Murray Grossan M.D. July 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

    Thank you, Pamela Hancock. I will let you know if this works for me. I am writing a book – non-fiction on Tinnitus Therapy.
    Based on your article, I plan to call it Tinnitus is a Laughing Matter.
    This will certainly raise the ire of the millions of tinnitus sufferers, but it brings up the point of therapy, that humor is a great way to relax the symptoms.

  21. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D July 14, 2018 at 11:17 am #

    Tamela, I can’t say that I’ve read a magical book lately but I would define a magical book as one I couldn’t put down. It’s one that transports me so completely into its world that I forget what time it is and keep reading.

  22. Tara Ross July 16, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    There are so many magical books from my childhood. Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia and Lois Lowry’s The Giver rank pretty high up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get New Posts by Email

Get New Posts by Email

Each article is packed with helpful info and encouragement for writers. You can unsubscribe at any time with one click. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!