How to Create Spells For Harry Potter Fanfiction

As an avid writer of Harry Potter fanfiction, I’ve created my fair share of spells for my stories. And question that comes up from quite a number of my readers is, “How do you come up with your spells?”

Even if it’s subconsciously, I have a process that I use when I need to make a new spell for the story I’m working on. I’ve been told it works very well, and as far as I know, it’s similar to how J.K. Rowling made up the original spells for the books.

Think About Your Spell

Spend a little time and ask yourself what you want the spell to do. How complicated will it be? What will it look like? Are there specific wand movements? What exactly does the spell do? Take a little longer thinking about the last question. Keep in mind at all times that magic has its limits and it can’t solve any problem. If you need to for a Transfiguration spell, check the Harry Potter Wikipedia and look up the rules of Transfiguration J.K. Rowling has already stated in the books. And finally, think about if the spell has a practical application. As previously stated, magic can’t solve every problem. Would a spell like the one you’re thinking up actually exist in the canon? Spending time on this will prevent eye-rolls from your readers and add to your fic rather than take away from it, especially if it’s canon-based.


A spell might already exist somewhere in the fandom. Be sure to check the Wikipedia page that compiles spells from not only the books, but from the movies and games as well. Spells that I’ve used from the games include Herbivicous, Glacius, and Meleflores. So if a spell already exists, go ahead and use it. You can take inspiration for spells from all over the fandom. However, if it comes from a fellow fanfiction writer, you should ask the author for permission before you use it in your own fic.

Pick an Incantation

There are a few techniques you can use to pick a name for your spell. The first way involves a spell that is a more specific spin-off of a spell already in existence in the canon. When I say specific spin-off, I mean when a spell is directed at something or twists a little to get a particular effect. There is a difference between a character saying, “Accio!” and “Accio Firebolt!”

One of my spells demonstrates this rather well. I had a sequence planned where I wanted the suits of armor to sing and dance, but I didn’t know what to use for an incantation. I knew that Locomotor was the basic spell for making things move, and after some research, I found that in the seventh book when McGonagall makes the armor come to life, she uses Piertotum Locomotor. Since I knew I wanted the armor to do something funny, I added on the phrase “humorous,” creating the full incantation Piertotum Locomotor Humorous.

The second way is to completely make up your own name. To make it sound like it could be a spell that would be in the canon, you can use Latin roots and words to create the names. It’s a technique Rowling herself used, and if you look at her spells closely enough, you can pick out Latin in them. For instance, in the spell Sectumsempra, there is the root sect (from words like seco and secare), which means “to cut.” The root fits the spell’s use.

Another one of my spells, Diffinda Corpus, (inspired by the How To Be A Death Eater letter) went through this process. I took the already existing Severing Charm, Diffindo, and changed it up a little. Since the concept of the spell was the cut or sever the body, the word for body, corp, made for a good addition to the spell. It made Diffinda Corpus, or the Pancake Curse.

The final way might be a bit of a cop-out, but if no incantation will come to mind, then you might not need one at all. Not having an incantation is most useful when a character besides the main character uses it, especially non-verbally. Keeping some mystery to spells can be a good thing, but it’s not always the most appropriate course of action.

Pick a Name

A name for a spell and its incantation are almost always different. The Levitation Charm and Wingardium Leviosa both refer to the same charm, but one is the name and one is the incantation. Your character wouldn’t yell, “Levitation!” and similarly, they wouldn’t refer to it as the Wingardium Leviosa Charm.

Sometimes the name is similar to the incantation. Crucio and Confundus are two good examples, and in the case of Confundus, it’s referred to as The Confundus Charm. Whatever the name you pick for your spell is, it should somehow include what that spell does in a concise manner. You would say Jelly-Legs Jinx over Makes Your Legs Feel Like Jelly Jinx.

Finally, you would decide what category of spell your new bit of magic is. The following definitions are from the Harry Potter Wiki:

  • Curse: Spells that have the intention of harming, controlling, or killing. Curses are not taught at Hogwarts because they are considered dark magic. Can be countered by a counter-curse.
  • Charm: Spells that make an object behave in an unnatural way without changing the inherent nature of the object, which is Transfiguration
  • Hex: Spells that are aimed to cause pain or discomfort. They are not as harmful as curses, but are still considered minor dark magic and are therefore not taught at Hogwarts.
  • Jinx: Spells that are aimed to cause some discomfort but mostly amusement for the caster. They are considered defensive and are therefore taught, and can be countered by counter-jinxes or anti-jinxes.
  • Spell: This is a sort of catch-all category. Transfiguration magic goes here, along with any other magic that doesn’t fit well into any of the other categories.

And sometimes if you can’t quite pick what the spell is, you just go with what sounds right in your mind.

Put Your Spell into Action

Now combine everything together. You know what the spell does, what it looks like, how to do it, what its name is, and what the incantation is. All you need to do is put it into your fic and have fun with it.

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