Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words 5/25/2011

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IFM vs. Railroad

What is the difference between “It’s Fucking Magic” and Railroad?

After reading Kalayna Price’s “The Ugly ‘Because'” (Magical Words 05/25/11):

I did a deep dive in my head. I HIGHLY recommend reading the post (again, the link is above) and the related comments. This topic travels through plotting, to character agency, and worldbuilding.

Everything created by authors is whole imaginary cloth. Yet, not.

Sometimes IFM (It’s Fucking Magic) is the correct reply for worldbuilding questions. “Vampires don’t work that way.” and “Faster than light travel needs some scientific base, which string theory or gravity might cover.” — IFM dude.

But if the reader is going, “Vampires don’t work that way according to how you defined your world, why is this one different?” – if the answer is, “I needed a good vampire to contrast against the bad vampires, so I railroaded the characters to doing what I wanted.” Yeah, no. That is bad writing.

“Because I say so.”

Laying down tracks and tying characters to them so they cannot deviate from the story from start to end is going to create a very boring story. 

Yes, the characters are made up. And yes, really, everything in the end is “because I said so”. But the world and characters you created must act within the parameters of the world, and not just the railroad tracks of the story. Characters are not IFM when they decide to break up with their fated mate, just because the darling makeup scene needs to occur in two chapters.

Because. Not a good reason when an adult tells you are five, and still not when you write a story at fifty. If you write a “because” story, your reader is going to ask “why”.