27 Magical Realism Writing Prompts

magical realism writing prompts

Looking for some page-turning magical realism writing prompts? Read on for prompts like a math teacher who receives a glimpse of another man’s life whenever he hiccups or a magician who creates feelings of hopelessness in everyone who touches him.

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Table of Content

The Definition of Magical Realism

Magical realism, or magic realism, is a literary fiction depicting a realistic world full of mystical aspects, blurring the borders between fantasy and reality with magical or supernatural happenings depicted in an otherwise real-world/mundane environment.

Despite the inclusion of certain magical elements, magical realism is generally considered a different genre from fantasy because it uses a substantial amount of realistic detail and employs magical elements to make a point about reality, whereas fantasy stories are often separated from reality.

Difference Between Magical Realism and Surrealism

Here’s an important distinction between magical realism and surrealism, despite them sharing some similar characteristics. The first is often set in a perfectly realistic world while the second often has dream-like universe setting that appears to blend aspects of the conscious and unconscious.

Another key distinction is the writers’ motivation for writing. Authors frequently utilize magical realism literature to convey an implied critique of society, most notably politics and the elite. The genre gained traction in sections of the world such as Latin America that were economically oppressed and exploited by Western powers, with magic realism writers utilized the genre to criticize and show their disdain for American imperialism.

Surrealist writing, on the other hand, mainly seeks to explore the full extent of one’s artistic potential.

Typical Elements Found in Magical Realism Stories

The following elements are typical in magical realism stories:

  • Fantastical realism elements: the inclusion of fantasy aspects that do not exist in our reality but treated as normal throughout the narrative, such as talking things and animals, dead characters, telepathy, etc.
  • Real-world setting: magical realism writers do not create new worlds but expose the magic in our existing world. The supernatural realm merges with the normal, familiar world in the world of magical realism.
  • Limited information: the authors treat the magical aspects in their stories as normal, and therefore, they offer little information in regards to the fictitious worlds in order to normalize it.
  • Often employ the use of complex layers of stories and hybrid multiple planes of realities
  • Heightened awareness: magical realism literature is self-aware of its status as metafiction, and encourages readers to have a state of heightened awareness of life’s hidden meanings and interconnectedness
  • Political critique: as mentioned above, magical realism often conveys an implied critique of society, most notably politics and the elite.

Magical Realism Writing Prompts & Story Ideas

Read on for prompts like a math teacher who receives a glimpse of another man’s life whenever he hiccups or a magician who creates feelings of hopelessness in everyone who touches him!

I hope the ideas below are original. However, undoubtedly with the popularity of this trope, something similar could have existed out there already. But sometimes the smallest details matter, and make all the difference!

Here they are, enjoy.

(Please note that all the genders in this prompts are just placeholders and are not meant to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor to offend anyone.)

Mind-Bending Magical Realism Prompts

  • An economist steals the answer to global recession and hides it inside a lighthouse.

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  • While a dictator searches for a map showing the location of the brightest children in the country, he fails to recognize that one lives within his own household.

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  • While strolling on the beach, a boy finds a sea shell that allows him to travel to the past and seeks to change the course of history.

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  • A pastry chef whose only daughter passed away due to hospital negligence is building a miniature ginger house copy of her residence, with her daughter inside of it, made out of cake.

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  • A congresswoman catches a bus to Nepal and then, for ten years, has conversations with the livestock in that bus.

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  • A clairvoyant has the ability to determine other people’s fate by drawing a card from her deck of tarot.

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  • Whenever a math teacher hiccups, he receives a glimpse of another man’s life.

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  • A dictator lives with a terrible migraine for years, until he discovers that a bee colony lives inside his head.

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  • A sailor has an unusual ability, and that is to feel the presence of great poets.

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  • A politician discovers that a dictionary is controlling her destiny.

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More prompts!

  • A viceroy owns a set of porcelain figurines depicting every rebellion that has happened there since the dawn of time.

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  • Whenever a midwife is on the job, she has the ability to communicate with the unborn child of the woman she’s helping.

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  • By eating a chili, someone will have the inability to tell the truth.

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  • An accountant is sleepwalking in a house of mirrors. When he emerges, he realizes he is not who he thinks he is.

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  • A South Asian high school teacher is obsessed with collecting rainbows.

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  • A cuckoo clock has the power to transport anyone who steps into it to any other cuckoo clock in the world.

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  • In a country plagued with recession, a hailstorm of bread is happening.

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  • A bookshop owner proves that rain is just an imaginary occurrence, to the relief of the people around him.

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  • A magician who creates feelings of hopelessness in everyone who touches him.

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  • A congressman finds that he’s connected telepathically to everyone who voted for his party.

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  • An acclaimed university professor spends his life writing a manuscript about balloons.

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Magical Realism Picture Prompts

Let the pictures below inspire you. What kind of magical realism stories are they trying to tell you?

(Please click on the image for more information.)

Some ideas: Upon gazing into a window, a war general’s widow shatters the window’s glass and then, in each of the shards, she lives an alternate life with her husband.

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Or write about an embroiderer whose embroidery affects her surroundings.

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(Please click on the image for more information.)

Some ideas: Write about a bird that has the ability to transform back and forth into various books and then it proceeds to disperse the wealth of knowledge in its possession to those who need it.

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Or write about a marooned survivor of a shipwreck who, with the help of the inhabitants of the island she’s marooned at is building a staircase back to her home.

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(Please click on the image for more information.)

Some ideas: Write about a family whose ancestors’ spirits live in the trees around their residence and give them advices from time to time.

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Or write about an important rebellion told from the point of view of a massive tree that has been around for decades.

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More Ideas?

Although there are a few important magical realism stories published out there, none of them are written by you YET! Now that you have some story ideas to get you going, go on and start writing!

Furthermore, here are some other posts that you might find interesting:

Have any question or feedback? Feel free to contact me here. If you like what you read, please consider buying me a ko-fi here! (Also a disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Until next time!

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