Limit the Magic

Philip Burne-Jones Bt. (1861-1926)
The Vampire, Philip Burne-Jones Bt. (1861-1926)

Blake Snyder calls it the “Double Mumbo Jumbo” rule:

“…for some reason, audiences will only accept one piece of magic… It’s The Law. You cannot see aliens from outer space land in a UFO and then be bitten by a Vampire and now be both aliens and undead.” (p. 126, Save the Cat)

Too much “mumbo” muddies the story, making it hard for the reader to suspend disbelief. Snyder gives several persuasive examples in his book.

I chose this piece of craft today for two reasons:

  1. I just spent two hours in the dentist chair, and want an easy subject, and
  2. The concept of simplicity appeals to me.

I’ve noticed that the longer I write, the less convoluted my plots become.   It’s not something I expected, but I think it’s an extension of the  magic rule above. Less is more when it comes to “mumbo” and stories. In my head, it’s my KISS rule: Keep it Simple Stupid.

How about you? Do you have mumboesk rules?

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

7 thoughts on “Limit the Magic”

  1. This makes me laugh at myself because I once wrote a book with a plot so complicated, it confused me! O_O I have found also as I have been writing more that simpler is better. Make it about the characters and how they overcome obstacles as opposed to making the story plot-driven, which can cause some convolution.


    1. Welcome Sara
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your writing experience.
      I totally agree with what you said. I don’t know what draws me like a lemming to convoluted plot holes but there’s definitely an attraction there that I have to watch out for.
      Best Wishes


  2. And for the other side…LOL I’m still into complex plots. I really get bored if in a romance its just does he get the girl or not? I need subplots. I want supporting characters who have things going on. So for me bigger is better. But I confess to have not read all of Snyder’s book. And to give credit where it’s due, his “save the cat” idea once it was pointed out to me, I feel certain helped sell my 4th book with it’s fairly complex plot. Again I am reminded that there are all kinds of stories out there for all kinds of readers and writers. And aren’t we all glad.
    Sorry to hear about the dentist trip, Jo-Ann. Hope all is well soon.


    1. Hi Marsha
      I like reading complex plots too, but I have to say I find them hard to write. lol. I guess it all comes with practice. I am feeling better. Thanks for being there.


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