laylah: a person's torso; the person wears black and has hands hooked in belt loops. the belt buckle is a silver cross. (every man a liar)
Laylah Hunter ([personal profile] laylah) wrote2013-02-04 11:05 am

I'm going to buckle down and-- what's that over there? it's shiny!

So, trying to distract myself from waiting on a reply to a difficult email I just sent off, and what better way than by looking at submission calls?

And Total-e-Bound has a call due April 1 for het or mixed-gender menage stories about witches. They want 15-20k, which is long enough that I'd want to have a decent amount of plot in there (I've seen people write 12k that is essentially one long sex scene, but I don't have that kind of stamina, heh) to go with some hot sexy bits. They seem pretty open to a variety of takes on the witchcraft theme. I'm leaning toward doing a contemporary/urban fantasy feel, but beyond that? I'm still sort of fumbling for a bunny.

So, I come to you for ideas -- what kinds of things would you like to see done with that theme? What would you rather NOT read? Throw some elements at me and let's see what happens.
battle_stations: general - happy! (general - happy!)

[personal profile] battle_stations 2013-02-04 08:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Honestly, I'm usually clearer on what I don't want to see when it comes to a theme, especially when it's wide-open like that. Which is to say...Nina Kiriki Hoffman, right? I love her magical system. I haaaaaate that her characters all use her magical system to play by dream rules, in which there is never any real suspense, because as soon as someone can dream up an answer, the problem is solved. :/ I guess I like it better when magic has clear rules, or clear limitations, so that a conclusion isn't made to feel "cheap." But that's never, ever been one of your problems, so what am I even talking about? ^_^
battle_stations: general - happy! (general - happy!)

[personal profile] battle_stations 2013-02-04 10:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Ahaha, yes. There is working around loopholes and creative use of what you have, and then there is "Oh no, enemies approaching! I will now cast DEUS EX MACHINA!" *facepalm* Which is sort of what I mean by "clear rules/clear limitations." When magic is the easy fix to everything, it's, uh...not very magical. It's just wish fulfilment at that point.

I guess what I'm saying is that magic is most interesting to me when it's a tool requiring skill and effort like any other, which allows for the chance that it alone may not be enough, or the other guy may be better. And even if the other guy is better, maybe you're sneakier, or magic isn't the only toy in your toybox. Anything to keep the reader guessing! ^_^
libitina: snake across an open book (Default)

[personal profile] libitina 2013-02-04 08:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Temptation and trying to resist it. And enjoying failing (but maybe feeling a little guilty about it).

The taste of the dust from an old spellbook on someone's tongue.

recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)

[personal profile] recessional 2013-02-04 08:35 pm (UTC)(link)
*laugh* I guess I'm a little bit different than ~battle-stations: I am tired of magical systems that are "push button, receive bacon", so to speak. I don't do a lot of outright magic myself - my life aims in slightly different directions - but I occupy the edges of the community and I'd love an urban fantasy that worked more like I see the workers around me deal with. I want things to go wrong, or things to go right in totally unexpected ways that potentially explode in your face; I want things to have unexpected costs and people to stumble on new spells by accident and so on and so on.

If anything, that can add to your suspense because it's not push-button-receive-bacon - even if you think you have exactlty the right spell or power, unexpected shit could go wrong, your spell could run headfirst into someone else's (or someone else's guardians) or who knows, it just doesn't work because someone was paranoid and wrote down 99% of the spell but left out the fact that you need to invoke Jupiter correctly because zie knew zie'd remember that part and without it the whole thing is useless.

I guess I'm tired of magic that works like a TV set or a phaser bank.

I am also tired of united underground sisterhoods and all witches being young, white, thin, sexy and based off bowldlerized Celtic or Greek or horribly mangled Egyptian systems. I'm tired of Wicca (the religion) and witchcraft (the magic) being treated as interchangeable, and the latter being called the former. I'm tired of the, what does TV Tropes call it? When everything gets realigned to a Christianic duality-concept, so that you have the "good" god (who of course does not accept any kind of blood sacrifice or whatever) and the "bad" god (who of course eats human babies whole) . . . .

. . . a theme may possibly be detected here.
julian_griffith: (Default)

[personal profile] julian_griffith 2013-02-05 01:55 am (UTC)(link)
Nothing that feels like it belongs on the CW!

I'd also like to see something that acknowledged what White Wolf's Mage game acknowledged: most of the industrialized world doesn't believe any of this works or exists. The more improbable your result, the more pushback you're going to get for creating a visible paradox.

Make it uncertain, make it difficult, and for the love of all that is holy, don't make your practitioners smug. (Not that you would. But anyway.)

...on the sexytimes, if you wanted to bring back that toy Narcissa bought at Lamia, and work it into the story somehow, you would have an instant fan here.
ilyat: (Dune - Piter - Mentat Mantra)

[personal profile] ilyat 2013-02-05 05:39 am (UTC)(link)
A lot of what [personal profile] recessional said holds true for my preferences, too. Cultural stereotypes that our society imposes on Wicca and witchcraft and magic and new age religions in general (yes, I realize these are all very different concepts, but they're so often lumped into one) almost always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Even when the material is playing off of those terrible tropes to poke fun at them, the root of it is still always just a bit off for me.

I also really dislike the deus ex machina approach to magic in general, though it's honestly less about plot for me and more about interesting worldbuilding (which you prob know by now is what gets me every time, in a good way, when done right). Magic as a psuedo science - as in, an actual science in the world, or a parallel to science with just as plausible quantitative measures in place to work with it for a world that combines or contrasts the two - is almost always something I latch onto in a story. Sometimes even the subtle things can be the most interesting, like harnessing pre-adolescent fire demons (or whatever) as a safe means to heat a house, because everyone knows that once they hit puberty, they get to be unpredictable and that's when you have to either put them down or get rid of them (or send them as a gift to someone you don't like).

(I need to stop using parentheses. But. It can also be really interesting to see things swing in the complete opposite direction for magic as a pseudo science - and take conceptual science (or math) and turn that into something arcane.)

Tying into that, having a system of checks and balances to make it make sense why certain civilizations/people/magic concepts haven't completely taken over or obliterated everything else is also a huge thing for me, even if it isn't outright said anywhere. Give magic a very real drawback for use for the practitioner. Make it cost that person years of their life in dedicated study to master it. Make the training difficult (or dangerous) to go through, or not easily accessible to everyone. Make it cost that person something to go above and beyond "normal" use - and make the risk real, pain, death, memory loss, loss of substantiality or even parts of the self, transformation into something undesirable, etc.

Lastly, completely and utterly unrelated to magic but still somewhat relevant, I love seeing new takes on secret societies - be they political or cultural or sectarian in nature - and how they subtly (or overtly) work to control or change society as a whole. See any pop culture or obscure reference to the Illuminati or even Masons. Hell, have several at odds with one another. Clashes and strife that can't under any circumstances leak over into public knowledge can be tons of fun.