Magical Realism Story Ideas and Writing Prompts (2024)

magical realism writing prompts

Looking for some page-turning magical realism story ideas and writing prompts? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of magical realism story ideas for middle-schoolers to high school students to NaNoWriMo warriors to any seasoned writers!

Read on for story ideas such as 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, and many more!

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Magical Realism Writing Prompts Must-Haves

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.

Magical Realism vs. Surrealism

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

The following elements are typical in magical realism stories:

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Often employ the use of complex layers of stories and hybrid multiple planes of realities
5. 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
6. 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!

(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

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

2. 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.

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

4. A pastry chef whose only daughter passed away due to hospital negligence is building a gingerbread house, which is a copy of her residence. Moreover, an imitation of her daughter, made out of cake and bread, lives inside of it.

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

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

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

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

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

10. A politician discovers that a dictionary is dictating the course of her life and destiny.

More prompts!

1. A viceroy owns a set of porcelain figurines which has the ability to predict the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. A congressman finds that he’s connected telepathically to everyone who voted for him.

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

12. 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.

13. Write about an embroiderer whose work affects her surroundings.

Magical Realism Picture Prompts

Here are some picture-based magical realism story prompts, because, a picture speaks a thousand words! Below are some image prompts as well as some prompt ideas to accompany each.

(Please click on the image for more information.)

1. 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 whoever needs it.

2. 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.

(Please click on the image for more information.)

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

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

More Ideas?

So, those are some magical realism writing prompts for you to spin into your own story. 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.

Until next time!

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