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I am trying to write a magical system, and I love the way that wands are like gunfire and how you flick and attack and it's instant. No weird hand movements or long unwieldy staffs or canes to use.

But I'm stuck at the Harry Potter series, as I fear that at this point wands have pretty much been copyrighted (not literally) by the Harry Potter books. And I am finding it hard to find a solution which is a good substitute with a wand which has the same effect.

My plan is to use a wand in the broader sense, but add and find unique and different ways of using them and making them more different from just wands like in the Harry Potter series.

Like adding more of a Jedi ritual to making the Wand or something else than just a magical stick with stuff inside which chooses the wizard. Just something that gives it something different to the Harry Potter books.

Do you think this is still too much like Harry Potter, or that it might work?

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    Welcome to Writing.SE John. Please check out our tour and help center to get to know our community better. Your question is a common one: is my work copying another work too much? I probably should have directed you to our main answer for that and not answered the question here, but it seemed easier. All I can say is...if you want to write fantasy, read widely. Harry Potter is a lovely series but it's less original than you think (most works are less original than you think). – Cyn May 6 at 23:32
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    Suggestion -- since it's more about a very general concept than a literal Intellectual Property Infringement (It's possible specific spells are Trademarked, perhaps by the movie company, for their Wands That Work in the Parks), I don't think you need "legal" as a tag. – April May 7 at 12:56
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    You may want to look at the RPG.SE , Worldbuilding.SE, the science fiction one (I forget if it's written out or SF), and others -- just to get a sense of the many ways wands CAN be (and have been) used. Whenever anyone says JKR/HP "owns" something, well, she just took EXISTING concepts and captured the imagination. You can do the same. (Look at Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Books_of_Magic ) And while i'm on wiki - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wand – April May 7 at 13:12
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    Thinking about it, a pen/pencil is basically a wand -- practitioners make certain arcane movements, leaving a trace that is practically 1-dimensional upon 2-dimensional planes, and thus alter how people thing. – April May 7 at 13:36
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    Too short for an answer, but I highly recommend reading Sanderson's Laws. In particular, Sanderson's First Law of Magicks: "An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic." You can avoid a lot of the "oh they're just copying {famous series}" arguments by building magic into the world in accordance with his laws. – Cort Ammon May 7 at 14:36

14 Answers 14

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Waving a wand and wiggling the fingers while magic happens is theatrics. In Faust, Goethe has the Devil make fun of a witch for being too precious and ceremonious with her magic, so you are in good company cutting out the silly hand gestures.

Addressing copyright fears, wands are "stock items" in stories with magicians and wizards. No one can claim to own them.

However, the Potter stories feature magic wands as a rite of passage, as several MacGuffins, and as a symbol for the absolute power which Harry rejects. Wands take up quite a bit of story real estate in a very prominent commercial franchise, and no living person has escaped exposure.

I love the way that wands are like gunfire and how you flick and attack and it's instant. No weird hand movements or long unwieldy staffs or canes to use.

J.K. Rowling's current spin off series – which appears to be sinking – has reduced the wand's narrative contribution to "pew pew pew". You have your own wand idea, so I'd encourage you to go deeper, not reductive.

I suggest if you want your magic to look like a Tesla™ plasma zapgun, give it some logical constraints that fit. If it shoots lightning then it is depleting ions and starting fires. There may be limits to how quickly you can "pew", how far it shoots, or the dangers of standing in water or near a conductor. Constraints are usually better narrative tools than superpowers.

  • Thank you, i'll take that on board and see what I'll come up with.. – John155jd May 7 at 6:31
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    Thanks -- you're right. I'll move it, and then you can delete yours. :) – April May 7 at 13:12
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    "However, the Potter stories feature magic wands as a right of passage" Do you mean "rite of passage"? – Acccumulation May 7 at 14:55
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    I feel now is a good time to link Sanderson's laws of magic: coppermind.net/wiki/Sanderson%27s_Laws_of_Magic – Sobrique May 7 at 16:28
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    @CodyBugstein: The Fantastic Beasts series, that apparently is a prequel in disguise, telling the story of Grindelwald when he was young. Honest Trailers (humorously pointing out the flaws) for the first and 2nd one. – Peter Cordes May 7 at 20:21
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The concept of the 'Magic Wand' predates Harry Potter by at least a handful of millennia. Consider the 'Rod of Circe' in Homer's Odyssey which is used to magically transform Odysseus's men into pigs.

A wand appears again in C. S. Lewis' 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe', where it is the eponymous Witch's most powerful weapon.

Wands are a common idea in magic, and have been since time immemorial. No one in their right mind would accuse you of lifting the idea from Harry Potter.

  • Thank you, that was a comment I was really hoping for! As I've been worried per se as I have been developing this wand idea for ages, and only now it's hit me some may thinks it's too harry potter.. – John155jd May 6 at 23:59
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    @John155jd It depends on the exact implementation. If in your story wands are made of different woods and have different materials inside them, these woods and cores reflect the nature of the wielder, and the wands have some level of awareness/sentience that allows them to choose, bond with and learn from the wielder, etc. then yes, people are going to think you stole the idea from Harry Potter. If they're just items that you use to cast spells, then they probably won't. – Anthony Grist May 7 at 14:58
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    Yep. :-) – Rand al'Thor May 7 at 16:14
  • "Wands are a common idea in magic, and have been since time immemorial. No one in their right mind would accuse you of lifting the idea from Harry Potter." Unless they read this question, that is. Still, I don't think anyone would consider that a problem, any more than learning about vocabulary and grammar from reading other books. Wands are basically just part of the common conceptual vocabulary for books about magic. – WBT May 8 at 16:59
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To make magic effective, you first need to decide on a magic system which is internally consistent and so doesn't break suspension of disbelief. Then you can decide whether wands fit that system.

Harry Potter is an epic fail here on pretty much every level. Rowling was never a fantasy reader, and so had (and still has) no grasp at all of worldbuilding, something she happily admits herself. So just about everything that could go wrong with magic, she does.

Wands as guns is a perfectly good concept. However you do then have a problem that the defence against a gun can never be another gun, and the first person to put a bullet/hex in the air and on target automatically wins. The idea of duelling with wands where your magic system has "hexes" or other bullet-like spells is simply a non-starter, because it isn't possible to react fast enough to block them. You could make this work by dramatically slowing down the "muzzle speed" of your spells, but that changes their trajectory from bullet-like to more beachball-like, or perhaps Nerf-like at the extreme. Still effective, no doubt, but now easily dodged by non-magical people because all it needs is regular human reflexes.

The much-beloved-by-Hollywood "opposing forces" beams of light are also generally a failure for worldbuilding. If I point a hosepipe at you and you point a hosepipe at me, you cannot counter each other's flows of water in the middle, they don't cancel each other out. Splash slightly, perhaps, but that's all. Nor does it push you back - your own jet of water does (because equal and opposite reaction), and so does the other jet of water if it hits you, but the two water jets crossing does not apply any force to you. Ditto fire. If a magic system does allow that because the magic beams are kind of solid, and it considers basic Newtonian physics, then fair play - but then the magic user has to put equal and opposite force behind themselves. And not only that, but the equal and opposite force has to push against something. A single shot from a magic user then becomes a bazooka, with equal blast immediately behind themselves. A sustained beam could level buildings behind them, or would need to be fanned out across an area to spread the load. A magic user who fails to brace themselves will become a red smear of jam laminated over the scenery behind them.

Some of the better worldbuilding schemes for magic are similar to the original Jedi version, as also used by Warhammer and others. If magic is a force/substance around us, the magic user is able to move that substance where Muggles can't. The Hollywood lightshow may then simply be a visible manifestation of something else, in the same way as the plume of condensing water above a kettle spout is not actually "steam". This can lead to wands or other devices as a mechanism for moving and channelling this substance, which is a much more useful and believable system than Rowling's semi-sentient wands. Warhammer's "force swords" and "force rods" are worth looking into for this, and Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn series is interesting for its take on how they would be used. (Although Abnett's force swords do seem to be semi-sentient.)

Of course, once you go down this route then you have the question of why the magic beachball/Nerf has to move like that. If you want to kill someone, why not manipulate the magic substance inside their body directly? If that's possible, how would you defend against it as a magic user (or as a Muggle)? And if that's not possible, why not? I can think of at least one fantasy novel where the hero uses his telekinetic "hand" to directly squeeze and rupture his opponent's heart.

And then how do you explain this to the reader, without devolving into pages of Tolkien-esque exposition? Almost every magical fantasy series uses the trope of "noob wizard being taught their powers", and one of the strengths of this trope is that the noob wizard can be a proxy to ask the questions which the reader wants to know. If not that, there'll always be some other noob who can be the proxy for in-universe exposition.

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    If I point a hosepipe at you and you point a hosepipe at me, you cannot counter each other's flows of water in the middle yes you can. Nor does it push you back yes it does. but then the magic user has to put equal and opposite force behind themselves. and if you dont it would... push you back. not only that, but the equal and opposite force has to push against something Like the ground? The same way it works for guns? – Matt May 7 at 12:48
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    @Matt No it doesn't. The flow of water out of your own hosepipe pushes you back; and if the other water hits you then it pushes you back. The two streams of water splashing slightly in the middle does not push you back. – Graham May 7 at 12:52
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    Correct, nothing you just said contradicts what I said. I do however notice that I may have misunderstood what you meant in the second quote. It was unclear if 'it' means the whole water out of a pipe situation. Or just the meeing in the middle. – Matt May 7 at 12:53
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    I do want to point out that ambiguity CAN work -- perhaps it's like coding and technology -- some tech begets more tech -- you can't invent an iPhone before other miniaturization is in place AND people are behaving a certain way. Some people deliberately use fuzziness in their magic systems -- I've been told that Wildbow's Pact (web serial) works like that, because it's like lawyers battling. But JKR moved from simplistic child's book (not even YA) to a more mature thing w/o rethinking worldbuilding, and that's where it is unsatisfying. – April May 7 at 12:53
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    @April It's unusual, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I think Wildbow did run out of ideas occasionally, but it's a very different concept to anything else out there. Like Worm, the lead character is very much working from a position of weakness. I need to get going on Ward sometime, but I wanted to let Wildbow get a good distance ahead before I started binge-reading! :) – Graham May 7 at 13:30
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Wands have been a feature of magic for decades and perhaps much much longer. Tinkerbell in Disney's version of Peter Pan (1953) has a short wand that works with a flick of the wrist.

enter image description here

I could come up with 100 more examples if I wanted to take the time. But I'll leave that to you.

Wands are part and parcel of the magical universe. Not everyone uses them to do magic. Even in Harry Potter they have some magic done with wands and some that isn't. Many stories don't use them at all. But they're common enough that anyone who is well read in fantasy (or who has seen fantasy movies) has seen them multiple times.

Your proposed wand effect is standard. Just don't copy explanations and descriptions.

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    "Tinkerbell in Disney's version of Peter Pan (1953) has a short wand that works with a flick of the wrist." You are mistaken about this; she does not have a wand in this movie. – Laurel May 7 at 1:10
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    @Laurel you appear to be right. google.com/… They must have added the wand later. It was part of Disney's TV logo for years. – Cyn May 7 at 1:13
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I don't think anyone who read few fantasy stories that predated Harry Potter would ever have this kind of consideration. This is because wands were a widespread idea. Moreover it did not only exist in books/stories but were also physically used to make things look more magical.

Others have already pointed out several examples of wand examples from stories. Let me just add that the use of wands in pop-culture was (according to this Wikipedia article) widespread by several Disney movies in the first half of twentieth century.

But, wands are also a popular attribute whenever magic is shown to people. Just consider the illusionists shows. It may be less popular now, but it you look at any young magician set (predating HP) it consisted of a mandatory wand (as well as some cards, usually a hat and a cloak).

Just a random example taken from simple Google search for young magician magic set:

enter image description here

As you may read for example on this page the usage of wands is described in old documents referring to magic, dated as early as 13-th century with objects resembling wands found dated 3-rd A.D. century or even B.C.

See just a single example picture from the aforementioned site:

enter image description here

Other example may be lees obvious, but it might be worth mentioning here. I don't know how local this custom is but in Poland there existed a concept of "różdżkarstwo" (dowsing) - a skill of finding underground water with a use of wands (in Polish wand is translated to "różdżka". The tools used in the process are called the same; according to Wikipedia tools used for dowsing are called in English rods or twigs, but the more general rhabdomancy uses also wands). Now take a note that those wands were different than what we usually imagine. I'm aware of two types of wands used, both require two hands.

The first type actually require two wands, L-shaped (with a very long one part and a short handle perpendicular to the rest of the wand). The dowser ("różdżkarz") holds one wand in each hand with the long part parallel to the ground and pointed to the front and starts wandering in the area where they look for water. The wands in his hands react moving to the sides, supposedly aligning with the underground water streams. Places where the wands cross are the location of streams crossing that are either useful to build a well or needs some negative field reduction tokens (like magnets). Those places also aren't suitable for sleeping (negative energy flows over those streams).

The second type of wand used in the process consists of two curved pieces joined at one end (I think one of the bones was originally used for that or some properly shaped wooden stick). The dowser hold the separated ends in each of his ends with the joining ends pointing outwards and again walks in the area. The wand moves in their hand up and down. When it points vertically down, it's again a place where underground water is (what to do with that is similar as in the previous case).

You can see examples in those Youtube videos (sorry, they are in Polish only):

The way wand is used also varies significantly depending on the story. Let me limit myself to modern stories and other productions (OK, Lord of the Rings is already about a century old, but still...) and use just few different examples.

In Lord of the Rings wand (technically it's a staff but works the same) is necessary to do (powerful) magic. When Gandalf enters the court of Edoras (in Two Towers) he tricks guards to let them think it is a wandering stick in order to be able to take it with him inside. He needed that to duel Saruman's charm on king Theoden. Later (in Return of the King) Gandalf breaks Saruman's staff/wand removing his ability to cast spells (he can still charm to some level with his speech though). This idea is pretty similar to one in Harry Potter (so as you can see it's Rowling who borrowed the concept), where wand is said to channel the magical energy and it is clear that it is required to cast any spell (e.g. in HP and the Order of PhoenixMs. Figg requires Harry to keep his wand to be able to react quickly if Dementors come back).

In Discworld series by Terry Pratchett wand is useful for witches to do some magic, but most of it can be done without one.

In Nethack game (dated 1987) the wand is a powerful magical object that can be used by anyone (not necessarily a wizard). each type of wand has it's own way of working and you can do only one kind of magic with the specific type of wand. It can also be used limited number of ties and can be recharged once used up (but each recharging increases risk of breaking it). Finally breaking a wand causes an uncontrolled explosion of magic (usually it turns out quite deadly for the adventurer) - contrary to LOTR where it just removes magical ability of the wand wielder or even further moved HP where a wizard or witch can use any wand, however their wand (or the one that accepted the wielder as its owner) is more efficient.

As you can often find here - it's your world and you can build the way your wands work as you please.

The only things that seem specific to HP world are:

  • the construction of a wand (a core of a magical animal and a surrounding wood of specific kind implying the capabilities of a wand to some level)
  • the wand-owner relationship
  • the relationship between wands (wand twins made of the only two feathers of on phoenix)
  • The Elder Wand as a product of Death and its capabilities
  • the attributes of the wand that seem important to impact its ability (to some level, these are mentioned as core, wood, length and stiffness/flexibility). Yet I believe if you decide to make length of the wand (and some other things, other than in HP) important it will be impossible to say you borrow the concept here.
  • list of spells (and for some - the effects caused by the spell if they are HP world specific)

I think it will be a good idea to read Pottermore page about wands to be aware what might cause a problem. Especially look at the details I mention above so that you are super-cautious not to copy that in your wands concept. Make sure to follow all links you will find there (every block is a link!).

  • "różdżkarstwo" is probably more know as rhabdomancy in different coltures, or dowsing: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rhabdomancy#English en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dowsing . Nice example, by the way. – Liquid May 24 at 10:32
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    Thanks @Liquid . I didn't know the English name for such process. I have done edition to include the correct name plus did some further related modifications to the answer. – Ister May 27 at 20:27
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I quite like the Merlin UK TV Series system of magic and its explanation of levels of spell and skill. For that series wands were not essential for spells but they were a helpful tool.

This is my recollection of the levels of skill and types of casting that could be achieved. So it might be a little wrong here.

The most basic level of skill that a new caster typically goes through is the recite a spell. While reciting the spell there may be some gestures that are needed as part of it. It is the most basic level and it focuses the mind. Unlike in early Disckworld style magic, you do not forget a spell when you say it. You meanrly have to sound the words correctly, do the moves correctly and think about what you are doing corretly. At this level for certain spells the wand would be a pointer to focus your intent. In themselves, they may not do much else.

The second level of casting is gesture base. The caster may not even need to move their lips to cast a spell any longer. At this level the wand is used the same as before. Now for a more complicated a powerful spell a good caster may still need to recite a spell. For example you can cause your hand or wand to emit a glow but to through the fire a distance is harder so you may still need to speak a spell.

The third level of casting is rarely managed, it is based on thought alone. The caster no longer needs to gesture or speak but can shape their thoughts clearly enough to directly change the world around them. Again for more powerful speels more tools are needed to focus the mind, wands, gestures, words and so on.

There were other strands of casting in the series as far as I can recall. One of them may be the familiar "all magic has a cost" line. On that theme perhapse a wand could take on some of the cost to save the caster. Better a broekn wand you must reform than a missing finger!

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The Oxford English Dictionary (subscription needed) says that "wand" has meant "A magic rod; the staff used in enchantments by a fairy or a magician" for more than 600 years:

  • a1400–50 [The] Wars [of] Alex[ander] 57 On hiȝt in his a hand haldis a wand And kenely be coniurisons callis to him spritis.
  • ?a1505 R. Henryson Test[ament] Cresseid [...] This duleful sentence Saturne tuik on hand,..And on hir heid he laid ane frostie wand.
    [...]
  • 1798 Wordsworth Peter Bell Prol[ogue]. 146 A potent wand doth Sorrow wield.
  • 1853 Dickens Bleak House xxxvi. 353 If a good fairy had built the house for me with a wave of her wand..I could not have been more considered in it.

As long as your wands don't specifically copy parts of Harry Potter, there is no problem at all with your characters having magical sticks that they wave to cast spells.

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So again, wands with bits of animals stuffed inside is unique to Harry Potter, but there are other ways and even styles to wield wands and other magical tools. Personally, I tend to lean to magical implements in an "It's only crazy if it doesn't work" sense... that is a Wand is as valid a magical implement as a staff or a spellbook or a dagger (D&D wizards can use one in place of wand) or a ring (D&D, Green Lantern style magic, Old School Aladdin complete with Djinn... not Disney cartoon).

There are also ways to update the use of Wands that aren't seen in Harry Potter... I've always bounced around a Wild West Wizard who would use his wand like cowboy gun slinger... quick drawl, blast, blow away smoke, twirl, holster. Magi Senti Majiranger/Power Rangers Mystic Force had Wands as Flip Phones (the state of the art cell phone during the time) rather than wooden sticks (In the former they were always Cellphones while in the latter they were sticks with Crystals of the Zords that were magiced into Cellphones to blend when around... well muggles as TVTropes would call them). Kamen Rider Wizard used magical Rings to contain spells that he could employ provided he had enough manna.

As I said before, I like when the implements are personal to the caster in my works, so one character could use a wand, another a staff, and a third could make silly hand gestures (Dr. Strange) and another could read the spell from a book. Despite being a meh movie, the Live Action Disney Film The Sorcerers Apprentice gets shades of this where there is a combination of personal style between the wizards that lends itself to some fun interactions. Each character met seems to employ their own uinque favored spells and have a degree of specialization. The first of several evil wizards is clearly got some Chinese Wushu and has a very flowing gesture form for example... the mentor and villain tend to favor old tricks and illusions to create traps, and the hero, an electric engineering student, prefers to shoot it with balls of lightning.

  • Your comment of "bits of animals stuffed inside" has triggered a partial memory of a very old PC game. You had regents (bits of plants and animals) that you put in one of a number of element slots in a grimoire which casued different spells. Some spells summoned things, others had affects. To get manna you left summoned creatures stood on mana points or something. Now if I could only remember the title. It could be that a wand amplified or unlocked a group of spells in a similar way though. – TafT May 7 at 14:21
  • "Magic and Mayhem" was the title of the game. It always comes back when you have given up and spoken of it vaguely. – TafT May 7 at 14:23
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    It's not unique to Harry Potter. First Edition D&D (1979) included magic wands, sometimes made of bone. The rules for crafting magic items encouraged the DM to make up recipes with rare ingredients, and "body part of magical creature" was one of the most common kinds. The general idea goes back much further than that; cf. "eye of newt" etc. in Shakespeare, and Frazier on "sympathetic magic". – Geoffrey Brent May 8 at 9:08
  • That's "quick draw". A "drawl" is sort of hard to do quickly. It's the antithesis of stereotypical urban rapid-fire speech. – Monty Harder May 8 at 16:17
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Magic wand as an idea is absolutely not original and did not start with Harry Potter. Magic wands as a refined concept, on the other hand, is prominently featured in the series.

So, you are perfectly fine as long as your concept is different from J.K. Rowling's one. Most works of fiction that feature magic wands don't even delve into any details apart from "Wands help wizards do magic".

Important parts of J.K. Rowling's concept are:

  • Magic wands are essential for the wizards to make magic, there are no real alternatives;
  • Magic wands are not mere tools, they have their own "will" and bond with their owners;

Even if your concept is very similar to the one in "Harry Potter", this is not something that can be copyrighted. Some readers may dislike that, but other may appreciate your book as a "Harry Potter spinoff" which sidesteps copyright issues.

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There are very few original ideas, at this level. The magically endowed object required to cast magic is one of them. It isn't a problem that the idea is well used or ubiquitously known, from one interpretation (JK Rowling's).

This is a bit like "How do I write a vampire book after Ann Rice", or "How do I write a ... many other kinds of story, after they have had a single compelling treatment.

And yet, you know, they do.

Other vampire stories, other wand stories, other alien, elf, goblin, magic and dragon stories, all exist. The trick is, try to find your own version of what a wand is like, how it works. Don't copy Rowlings'. She found a way to do it, and make it hers - and you can too.

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If you want to do something like a wand but-not-actually-a-wand, then use a more general type of magical item, a ward. A wand is just a type of ward, btw.

You can use talismans and other trinkets to do your thing just like a wand, without it being a wand. These can be single use, multi-use/rechargeable, self-regenerative, or simply conduits for magic.

These can be small statues, jewelry, clothing items, carvings, paintings, nick-knacks, or whatever you want them to be.

A good example of this is the "Coldfire Trilogy" by Celia S. Friedman. These books use a wide variety of types of magical items.

If you use a wide variety of magical items, then you shouldn't even have to worry about using a wand in the mix, since it just blends in with all the other items and prevents the reader from mistaking it for a Harry Potter "ripoff".

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Think about Gandalf and Saruman from Lord of the Rings. They also had Wands in shape of walking sticks. And their magic does not breaks out in as lightning bolts or something like this. The magic stays invisible.

  • "Wands in shape of walking sticks" aren't those staves? Most fiction I've seen tries to differentiate between a staff and a wand, even if they can both be used to do the same thing. – VLAZ May 9 at 11:19
  • @VLAZ sorry, but english isn't my native language. What does staves mean in this context and what's the difference to walking sticks? – MIB May 20 at 10:10
  • "staves" is the plural of "staff". It's basically a wooden stick that's about as tall as a person. It could very definitely be used as a walking stick. Wizards in fiction would a staff "two handed" (as in, rarely with anything else) and cast magic with it. A "wand" by comparison is a more like a pointing stick and rarely sturdy enough to use a walking stick. – VLAZ May 20 at 10:49
  • Okay, I think we talk about the same. I meant staves, which can also be used to cast some magic. – MIB May 21 at 7:10
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Harry Potter was not the first book series to have wand-wielding magicians, and it won't be the last. The best thing to do is just give your own world's wands an identity.

My own world has wands/staffs essentially being the same device, but with different firepower/augmentation of abilities. Mages can perform magic without them (and indeed, a living mage is required for a wand/staff to be of any use at all), but wands act as conduits and enhancers of existing magic.

They are treated like technology, having 'nodes' that, depending on the material, can enhance different sorts of magic (Nasite enhances 'chaotic' magic like pyromancy and Norvite enhances 'orderly' magic like cryomancy).

Basically, you need to analyse the tone of your fantasy 'verse, and make the wands fit accordingly, fear of Harry Potter be damned.

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There's a lot more for you to work with to differentiate your wands than just how they're used.

Give your wands, all wands in your universe, wandcraft in general, a back story reflected in the way they are constructed, acquired, enchanted, recovered when lost, stored when not used, depleted from disuse, traded, borrowed, stolen, measured, rated, adorned, named, holstered, wielded, repaired. It focuses... what? It draws energy from... where? Its previous owners (or creator or victims) have imprinted their own magic on it... how? This thing exists, it occupies physical and (someone's) mental space when it's not being used; give the reader a glimpse of that. The way a wand comes into the service of its owner could be a whole chapter on its own. Is there a wand aftermarket? A black market?

You can write a bit of wand lore, anecdotes, observations, records, misinformation etc. into your storyline far from the point at which the thing is actually used. Then when someone does whip it out the reason, the hesitation, the method, the side effects, the aftermath will all have deeper meaning rooted in your depiction of its presence in the lives and memories of your characters.

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