Glamour in Glass: Writing Chapter 6

Chapter 6 was a seriously fun chapter to write.  Why? Because I’m dealing with the part of my world that is entirely made up and the one that excites me most.  Jane visits a school for glamour — which is my magic system.  The thing that often  bugs me about other worlds is that magic seems to have come to a standstill, without anyone inventing new spells.  There’s a big tome and it contains every spell ever known.  In this scene, Jane gets to see a new, experimental use of glamour.

The fun, and also hard part, was to write the explanation of how the glamour worked in such a way as to make it logical within the structure of the world.  I really want the readers to be able to follow way things are done so that the progression of new glamours makes sense.  The tricky thing is that this means that I have to really, really know the deep structure of the whole system.

For instance, it’s an almost entirely illusionary form of magic, but as you’ll see in this first bit of Chapter 6, which is spoiler free, I do allow heating and cooling.

The school that Chastain operated was beyond Jane’s imagining in scale and concept. Seven young men and two young ladies studied with him learning far more than the basic elements of glamour which the young ladies of England were required to know as part of the womanly arts. Aspects of glamour such as the principal of temperature displacement, which Jane had struggled to acquire through books and experimentation, these fortunate few were learning the way another student might learn the catechism, as if it were a simple, solved and knowable problem.

The tricky thing about allowing heating and cooling is that it could open up a can of worms. If it were an easy thing, fire would never have been invented as anything but a natural phenomenon.  Yeah.  That would have changed the entire world.  No fire, means no ready access to charcoal. Means no matches. Means… you get the idea.

I didn’t want to shift the world of the story that far from our world so I needed to put some serious constraints on what the glamour can do.  Heat and cool, yes. But it takes an enormous amount of energy, which means they can only shift temperature a few degrees, and needs to be managed constantly.  This is consistent with both the real world and the magic world.


  • It takes less energy to produce light than it does to start a fire, here, so there’s it makes sense that the same would be true with glamour.
  • In the real world, a thermostat adjusts a furnace or a.c. to maintain a constant temperature in a room, so it’s reasonable to think that you would need to constantly adjust the folds of glamour to keep the temperature level.
  • In the world of glamour I set up that visual glamours become frayed and faded over time.  In the real world, heat is hard on materials, so extrapolating that the folds for heat would degrade faster than visual ones makes sense to me.

But really, all I’m doing is looking at the effect I need and then working backwards to make sure that the foundation under it is supporting that goal.  Most of it is still just smoke and mirrors, like any magic.

I always welcome readers as I’m working, so if you’d like to offer comments as I go along, drop me a line and I’ll give you the password.

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1 thought on “Glamour in Glass: Writing Chapter 6”

  1. I love those kinds of details you’re coming up with in your glamour magic system. And I agree, I have often been bothered by static and archaic magic systems. If magic were real, they wouldn’t think of it as magic and it would be studied like science is today, with all the misconceptions and fakery.

    One of my problems with creating a magic system is that I get so excited about exactly how it works that I really want to be explaining how it works. Must reign that in during narrative.

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