Since I posted the first part of my Magical Lexicon project this week, I thought this quote was particularly apt.
It’s not enough to create magic. You have to create a price for magic, too. You have to create rules.
If I found the right Eric (I dug up the quote independently of his website), Eric is a writer for RPG games. But what he suggests is true of magic of RPG games is true of writing stories as well. Of course, the basic interpretation: that in a fantasy story there must be a cost for a character to achieve something via magical means. That’s one thing that’s important about magic. (For more on this, see Sanderson’s First Law, which I think is a good rule of thumb for those writing stories with magic in it.)
But I want to think about that quote a little more deeply. The “Magic” is what our characters want desperately to happen. As writers, we can’t just give it to them, no matter what means they use to try to achieve it. There has to be a price. There has to be a choice. There has to be something lost for something gained. That’s the essence of drama.