How To Write Great Magic — No Way Home, Harry Potter & God of War


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How To Write Great Magic — No Way Home, Harry Potter & God of War



There’s a secret to writing magic that nobody talks about. Get started with Audible & grab The Final Empire for free by going to http://www.audible.com/closerlook or text closerlook to 500 500!

Nobody talks about the most effective way to write magic into a story. In this video essay, I break down what it is, and how you can use this technique yourself by analysing some popular films and games.

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The music used 4 minutes in is ‘Into Silence’ by ‘Vindsvept’.

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0:00 – Intro
0:48 – A Recap of No Way Home’s Plot
2:04 – How Magic Enables Great Character Arcs
7:16 – Why Do We Remember Myths So Well?
9:30 – Why Are All Myths Fantasy?
12:34 – The Hidden Meaning Of Harry Potter’s Magic
17:57 – How The Collective Unconscious Relates To This
19:04 – Why God Of War’s Magic Is Genius
22:01 – Why Magic Is An S-Tier Storytelling Device

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42 Comments

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  1. B4 watching this video fully I'm going to say the magic is written well when it plays into cause and effect, not just cool magic make things go boom.

    No way home has a action and reaction that leads to reflection and growth.

    I don't remember chamber of secrets too well its been many u years.

    But GoW also focuses on the effects of using magic as a way out and how in reality you have to face and accept the consequences from your action.

    Magic is most engaging when it's a terrifying device not used to save the plot, but instead create it in a very twisted way.

    A really cool show me and my mum enjoy is witches of easy end, a show that focuses on a witches who try to use magic as a way to fix things but ultimately realise there is no give without take righting the wrong ultimately leads to a twisted way of creating more wrongs

  2. The initial spell failing in No Way Home came off less like Spiderman's problem and more like Strange messing up.

    Anyone who has ever worked with customers knows you need to sit down first and define what the correct solution for them is. Because there is a huge difference between what a customer says they need, and what they actually need.

  3. Off course, you can't have a magic related video without mentioning Mistborn. Everyone and their mums keeps recomending it so i gave in and read it. Am I the only one who thinks they are only OK? The magic system didn't even seem magical to me and the second book was a slog where half of it could have been cut. Not bad Books but I certainly don't get all that hype. Brandon Sanderson is just not for me I guess.

  4. Wow I genuinely didn't like chamber of secrets when I was younger because it absolutely felt like that phoenix came out of no where to save the day. I just figured that millions of people adored the series and wouldn't wanna hear the negative opinion of a kid.
    I'm so glad you gave me a new perspective!!

  5. Just a point that came to me – Let's please not credit a writer's ability, most pointedly in this case a female writer, as being something that they had no hand in mastering. There is some space to argue for the theory of the 'collective unconscious' but let's please not imply the writer didn't know what they were doing and stumbled onto a structure that works through a combination of luck and coincidence.

    I do believe JK Rowling knew what she was doing and knows her world better than any person alive – all writers are the gods of their invented universes. She placed the dominoes where they needed to be; knowing how to place them and when came from her skillset alone. It is important to recognise lest we slip'n'slide into 'she's clever by accident' territory.

  6. king midas never actually touched his daughter in the original myth. not being able to eat was enough for him to run to dionysus. the part about his daughter was added in the 1800's to be a "better story"

  7. Idk if you watch Re:zero but it does pretty much the same thing you’re describing in this video. Maybe not all the magic in the show is used like that, but the main character’s Return By Death ability is a really good example of what you’re describing I think. Every time he dies he returns back in time to a previous “save point.” So this magic in some way is what forces him to grow as a person and so far in the series he’s learned several important and invaluable lessons. Because of this power he’s forced to grow unless he repeats the suffering over and over. And what’s funny is I don’t think this specific ability will be explained fully in the future but to me that makes it all the more special.

  8. I really like your explanation about the magic system in Spiderman & how it represents accountability. I personally feel like the magic itself wasn't written well; it was quite confusing. Still, listening to this video I think I probably misunderstood what you meant by writing great magic lol

  9. Can you make a video on no country for old men. Definitely one of my favorite movies. It’s one of the most thrilling movies with an unpredictable story, uses visual storytelling in an great way. And so on.
    Really want you to see this comment, otherwise I’ll write it in your next new video.

  10. I normally agree with you and enjoy your points, but count me as one of the wet towels who absolutely hated the use of the Phoenix at the end of The Chamber of Secrets and felt that it was too easy and spoiled the movie. Sorry. I just thought it was lazy and sloppy and weak.

  11. Hard disagree on the spiderman case. I don't see a connection at all between the cathartic effect of the moral decision and the use of magic. I still see magic as a plot device (and poorly used). You make a lot of points but I don't see you driving this one home. If you trade strange with stark and a spell with a machine, the outcome is unchanged. In my case, the lack of cohesion in the workings of the spell actually distracted me and hurt suspension of disbelief, thus diminishing the emotional attachment for that grand finale. I do love your videos and I believe you make great points about the relation between and mythology and truth. I would really like to hear more of your insights on the matter even if I don't agree with this particular example. Cheers.

  12. i … did not see that spiderman movie. And i THOUGHT i had been spoilered cause the other peters BUT UR TELLING ME THEY FORGET HIM????? THATS SO SAD OMG WHAT TT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  13. While I agree that there should have certainly have been dire consequences, I am very against the sadistic glee by which writers take Peter Parker and utterly destroy him. I feel of the many things I've ever seen Peter Parker suffer in either movies or comics, this is one the worst by far. The monumental deterrent of becoming a persona non grata, essentially an orphan all over again, I think is WAY WAY too far. He lost his Aunt. He lost his friends. And yes, he messed up that spell, and yes it led to so many bad things happening, but that ending….absolutely crushing. Let's not forget, it was not his fault Mysterio outed him. He needed to finally cross that proper threshold into a proper Spider-Man but damn we need to stop trying to sadistically put Peter Parker through the most outrageous experiences just to satisfy some ridiculous notion that EVERY SINGLE TIME he acts even a little bit selfishly, he has to suffer losses so severe it would cause some to consider suicide. I feel like writer after writer is trying to one-up the last person in sadistic consequences. There are other ways to express the same lessons in a Spider-Man story without trying to traumatize him into oblivion.

  14. Apperiantly the part where king Midas turns his daughter to gold is a later addition, it was not actually in the original telling!

  15. I’ve been watching you for a while now, and I can’t express how much I appreciate you for all the great content you provide us with! thanks for inspiring me to start my own channel ❤️