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What the F is Magical Realism?

Chapter 1: HELP ME!

By Donna ReneePublished 3 months ago 6 min read
DALL-E Assisted self portrait of the author writing this story

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.

"Ummm...what the heck did I just read?" I said to my hovering coworkers, tapping my fingernails against my rather anachronistic journal and fountain pen while staring into the bright and unnatural light of my laptop screen.

"That's the first sentence," Lenova answered, "and Vocal says, like it or not, you have to start with that."

"What even IS magical realism though? I mean, I know '100 years of Solitude' is magical realism but....that's the only example I can think of? What is the actual definition?"

"Ehh, not sure either. Here, let me google it real quick," said Lenova.

A few minutes later, she started humming before beginning to read aloud while twirling in circles around our office.

She was always like that.

" da do da dooo...Okay, I've got it! The genre originated in Latin American writing! In magical realism all you have to do is make magic real!"

"WOW, thanks for that deep insight, I'm good to go now!" I said, with a smidge more sarcasm than was probably strictly necessary.

"I wasn't finished! Geeeeez!"

"Okay," I sighed, feeling a tad guilty, "Sorry, go on."

"Like I was saying," she sounded annoyed with me now, "you have to make magic things part of the real world,"

"Oh! Like Harry Potter!" I said, relieved, finally feeling a little more in my element, "Or maybe Alice in Wonderland?? Actually, does that count or not since it was likely drug induced?"

Lenova ignored my interruption, "and whatever you do, don't explain it."

"Wait, what? Don't explain the magic? Why not? That's my favorite part!"

"Mine too, actually. Hmmm..." she paused as she quickly scanned through a few more google hits, "because then it falls more into fantasy or sci-fi. The magic in magical realism just exists in the regular world."

I genuinely appreciated her attempts to explain but this wasn't really helping and I couldn't get any work done with her spinning around the room humming.

"Can you please sit down and just read quietly or work on something else for awhile? I think I just need to start writing and see what happens."

Lenova somewhat sulkily obliged and I reread the required first sentence.

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.

"But," I sighed heavily, "this is supposed to be magical realism and that is SO obviously a sentence that belongs in poetry."

"Nah," answered Lenova, "I think it lends itself more to fantasy, don't you? I mean... if you aren't going to even try to follow the challenge rules then we could write about an amazing world where fairies fly through purple clouds and have glowing green eyes and ooooh maybe a dragon or a flying horse or even a WIZARD could be in there too!"

"Shut it, please, of course I'm gonna try to follow the challenge rules...and fantasy is NOT the same as magical realism!" I said, with barely contained frustration.

I slammed my laptop shut and turned to my journal and pen. It was easier to focus on my writing with them sometimes. I twirled the pen in my fingers and studied the intricate swirls in the marble. It had been a gift from my father, a writer himself. I would never have been interested in (or able to afford) a $100 Waterman fountain pen but using it now made me feel closer to him, somehow. And besides, Stephen King and Albert Einstein wrote with Watermans and that means they must be inspirational!

Ok, let's do this!

20 minutes later, I surveyed my first attempt.

Not half bad! I thought.

"Here, listen. How does this sound?" I said to my coworkers.

~~~Wings of Perisantia

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.

"Seriously, Jerome. Could you not be such a disgusting poet for once?"

My older brother rolled his glowing green eyes and tore himself away from the (admittedly and objectively gorgeous) night sky of Perisantia that stretched as far as we could see in every direction. Like streaks of melting cotton candy smeared across the unfathomable universe.

Ugh. Now there I go, thinking poetically. Jerome is contaminating my mind! I know we share some genetics but good grief. I am NOT going to turn out at all like him if I can help it. Gotta shake it off.

I lifted the oiled leather reins that rested across the front of my saddle, cuing Paladin that it was time to go. His shimmering wings unfurled, catching the winds and creating a current around us.

"Come on, Poet," I said to Jerome, "We gotta get moving. We've got a lotta sky to burn before they awake."

"Alright, Cara. Try to keep up!"

Jerome unfurled his own silvery wings and rose into the air, hovering like some kind of enormous bumblebee. Gods I hated him for that. Don't get me wrong, I love Paladin. But it would be SO NICE to be able to fly on my own like Jerome can without being totally reliant on something else with wings, like Paladin. ~~~

"Umm...sorry to break it to you," Waterman piped up in a tiny little voice, like he was already afraid of my reaction, "that's not even close to magical realism."

"Yeah," agreed Lenova, opening up and raising her screen a bit so she could talk, "not trying to piss you off. Waterman is right though. That is, like, straight up fantasy."

Gahhhh they were right!

"Shoot! I HATE not knowing what I'm doing!!!" I grabbed the still glistening inky page and tore it from my Moleskin writing journal.

"OWWWWW! What was that for?"

"Sorry! Sorry!! I'm just getting really, really frustrated."

My cheeks flushed with embarrassment at my behavior. I smoothed down Moleskin's frayed edge where I'd ripped out his page. Yikes... It looked painful. Now the remorse set it and I really did feel bad for how I was treating my coworkers.

I could feel their sadness, disappointment, and some pretty harsh judgment radiating from Lenova as well. This was going to take some finessing (and some caffeine).

"I'm sorry, friends," I said in my most sincere voice, "You didn't deserve that and I promise to do better...I'll make us some coffee and we'll try again in a bit. Sound good?"

A tense minute passed... then Lenova nodded her lid, Waterman bobbed up and down, and Moleskin even flapped some pages in agreement.


"Great. Lenova - oatmilk latte, Moleskin - black with sugar, Waterman - half and half with honey?"

More nods, bobs, and flapping.

Thank goodness. I really depend on those guys. We need each other - or else I never write and they don't have much of a purpose in life.

Time to get back to work!

Hopefully I'll have better luck with my next attempt... I'm thinking something with wizards or magical animals sounds promising!

No. Damn it. I still have no idea what I'm doing.


*** There are so many great examples of magical realism already submitted to this challenge and I am continually impressed by all of you amazing writers who can step outside of your typical style and crush it!!!***


About the Creator

Donna Renee

Hi! Thanks for reading! My hobbies include making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to write a story and then rage-deleting it when I get the slightest bit frustrated.


Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  4. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (48)

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  • johncy rani3 months ago

    Wow super

  • Paul Stewart3 months ago

    Such a great read. I love the story within a story vibe to it - really love all kinda meta type things. This was totally deserving of Top Story, congratulations! You are on a real roll Donna! Great stuff!

  • Joe O’Connor3 months ago

    This was an entertaining and original read Donna! I liked the meta-feel of seeing your thoughts almost in real-time. Well done:)

  • Nikki Clam3 months ago

    I've always been drawn to stories that blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Magical realism adds a touch of enchantment to our everyday lives!

  • Robbie Cheadle3 months ago

    Very entertaining, great use of the prompt.

  • Oluwatoyin Adeleke3 months ago

    Magical can sometimes be real

  • Ethan Jackson3 months ago


  • Quincy.V3 months ago

    The article was well-written and informative, providing useful insights on the topic.

  • Roy Stevens3 months ago

    I can always enjoy a little meta-irony. I think Murakami would approve!

  • Gina C.3 months ago

    Amazing story! I love how you did this - truly creative! Congrats on Top Story!! 😍😍

  • Enjoyed this, Donna. Ironically, it felt very real, haha. -Anneliese

  • mark william smith3 months ago

    really enjoyed your story. carried me all the way through. very creative.

  • Kendall Defoe3 months ago

    Well done...and it all sounds very familiar. 🤔

  • Vairamani S3 months ago


  • Marsha Singh3 months ago

    This was fun! Thanks for the chuckle & congrats on Top Story!

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Been there. Well done and congratulations. In reality I think us writers enjoy the confusion, and frustration. After, not during the process. 😃🤣

  • Julia Sinton3 months ago

    LOL I loved this. I felt the frustration, I laughed and I really enjoyed your writing. You’ve got a skill for painting a picture with detailed yet succinct words. Amazing! <3

  • Vinil Nair3 months ago

    Very nice story!

  • Abdul Razack3 months ago


  • Kahlee 3 months ago

    This is absolutely fantastic! So creative :)

  • Mark Graham3 months ago

    Superb story I really enjoyed it.

  • C. H. Richard3 months ago

    First congratulations on your top story! Second fantastic story! Story within a story. Well done! ❤️

  • Congratulations on your top story, I love this

  • Harmony Kent3 months ago

    Congratulations on a well deserved Top Story! I’ve never written magical realism before, so this challenge pushed me into new waters. I love your take on the prompt … so incredibly imaginative, Donna! 💕🙂

  • aly suhail3 months ago

    A very unique start to it and of course it was an amazing read.

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