Genre & Theme
3 min read

A short guide to magical fantasy

Two sorceresses engaged in a magical battle.

Magical fantasy is a subgenre within the broader reality genre. It captivates readers with stories that revolve around magic and its influence on characters and their worlds. These narratives often explore power, transformation, and adventure, offering readers and writers a rich and immersive experience.

This article provides an overview of the reality genre, examines the origins and critical elements of magical fantasy, offers techniques for effective magical fantasy storytelling, and guides writers in choosing magical fantasy as their reality genre of choice.

Understanding the reality genre

The reality genre comprises various storytelling styles that emphasize realistic, true-to-life narratives. It encompasses subgenres such as factualism, realism, and magical fantasy, each with its own unique characteristics that appeal to different reader preferences. Selecting the appropriate reality genre depends on the writer's interests, the story's focus, and the intended audience.

When to choose magical fantasy as your reality genre

Magical fantasy is an ideal choice for writers who:

  • Are interested in creating stories that revolve around magic or magical elements
  • Seek to explore themes of power, transformation, and adventure
  • Aim to create immersive worlds where magic is an integral part of the story

The origins of magical fantasy

Magical fantasy has roots in folklore, mythology, and early works of fantasy fiction that incorporate magic and supernatural elements. Over time, magical fantasy has expanded to encompass various forms of storytelling, including novels, short stories, films, and television.

Notable early magical fantasy authors and works:

  • J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"
  • C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia"
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's "Earthsea" series

Key elements of magical fantasy

Magical fantasy stories typically take place in imaginative settings where magic is an integral part of the world's functioning and inhabitants' lives. These narratives explore topics such as power, morality, and transformation, examining them through the lens of magic. Characters in magical fantasy stories are often well-developed and relatable, enabling readers to connect with their struggles and triumphs as they navigate a world of magic. These stories often involve quests or adventures driven by the presence of magic and the need to overcome magical obstacles or achieve magical goals.

The key elements of magical fantasy:

  • Worlds where magic is an essential part of life
  • Exploration of themes related to magic
  • Engaging characters that navigate a magical world
  • Plots that centre around magical elements, conflicts, and resolutions

Techniques for magical fantasy storytelling

  • Creating detailed and imaginative magical systems: Develop a coherent and engaging system of magic that provides structure and consistency to your story.
  • Developing vivid and immersive world-building that incorporates magical elements: Create detailed, believable settings that enhance the story and provide a rich backdrop for your characters' journeys.
  • Crafting multidimensional characters that are relatable and dynamic: Create characters with depth and complexity, allowing readers to empathize with their struggles and celebrate their successes within a magical world.
  • Constructing engaging plots that focus on the role of magic in the story: Design plots that draw readers in and keep them invested in the characters' emotional journeys and the story's exploration of magical themes.

Examples of magical fantasy in storytelling

Notable authors and works:

  • "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling - A young wizard's journey through the magical world of Hogwarts School and his battle against the dark wizard Voldemort.
  • "Mistborn" trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - A high-stakes heist in a world with a unique magic system, where influential individuals consume metals to gain abilities.
  • "The Kingkiller Chronicle" by Patrick Rothfuss - The coming-of-age story of a legendary magician, musician, and adventurer, told in an epic, lyrical narrative.

Popular films and television series:

  • "The Chronicles of Narnia" (film series) - A group of children discover a magical world filled with talking animals, witches, and epic battles for good and evil.
  • "The Lord of the Rings" (film series) - A brave fellowship embarks on a quest to destroy an all-powerful ring that could end the world.
  • "Game of Thrones" (TV series) - A sprawling, complex narrative set in a world of political intrigue and magic, where rival houses vie for control of the Iron Throne.

Challenges and criticisms of magical fantasy

  • Striking a balance between magical elements and grounded storytelling: Writers must be cautious to keep the magical aspects from overshadowing other narrative elements or making the story feel unbalanced.
  • Navigating the line between magical fantasy and other reality genres: As magical fantasy often blends elements from multiple genres, it's essential to remain aware of each genre's specific conventions and expectations to avoid confusing or disappointing readers.
  • Addressing the potential for over-reliance on magic as a plot device: While magic can be a compelling aspect of magical fantasy stories, writers should strive to create nuanced narratives and avoid using magic as a simple solution to complex problems.

Magical fantasy, a subgenre of the reality genre, offers writers a unique opportunity to create rich, immersive stories that explore themes of power, transformation, and adventure through the lens of magic. Understanding the origins, key elements, and techniques for effective magical fantasy storytelling enables writers to craft compelling narratives that resonate with readers and transport them to magical worlds. Choosing magical fantasy as a subgenre of reality allows you to push the boundaries of traditional storytelling and offer fresh perspectives on the power and possibilities of magic.



  1. Coyne, Shawn. 2015. The Story Grid. New York, NY: Black Irish Entertainment.