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Magical Realism

1. What is it?

Magical realism is the layering of ‘magical’ elements on top of a realistic setting.

The magical elements can be presented as ideas from folklore (magic, supernatural beings, etc.) or phenomena that differs from everyday human reality.

Magical realism must retain its basis in reality. In this way it differs from fantasy. The ‘magical’ elements are not considered as magic, but oddities.

2. How is it made?

Establish a story based in realism.Add a magical element within the story. No explanation is required.
 Often foreshadowing is used, such as a traditional story hinting at a magical element.Dreams and visions are a common tool.
Despite the magical element, the story continues in realism. However, the element may affect characters.

3. Examples

It was on the third day after her mother’s funeral that May had the dream. It began in a generic fashion – something about horses – but at around midnight the visions began to change. A wave of animals flocked towards her, and in distant trees the birds howled like untrained dogs. She turned to see where the beasts were heading, and as she did so she saw her own house aflame. The animals ran in, and she heard their screams. 
“Turn away,” a voice said.
May looked away. Although she could hear the animals wailing, the landscape before her was beautiful. In the furthest fields, the plants had turned to gold.
She awoke and thought nothing of it. However, two months later a virus struck the farm. The animals died swiftly. Only the arable crops remained.


The forest was a sacred place to the villagers. They spoke of a magic that lived within its deepest portions, and told tales of miracles and inner peace being bestowed upon those who spent the most time amongst the trees. Magnus had never experienced any these inspirational moments, but the older generation took them very seriously. Adamant that there was an energy to be gained from nature, they might have sounded insane to outsiders, but anyone living in the village knew the tales and some claimed to have felt the forest’s spirit.

4. Task

Write a scene which includes an element of magical realism.

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