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Writers are used to the power of stories to evoke feelings and create new worlds: in some stories this is explicitly possible, as a form of magic.

Rewriting Reality is a form of magic where the invocation is writing -- or in more recent tales, typing. Usually it is one specific object that the writing works with, such as a Reality Writing Book, a typewriter, a sketchpad or a PC. It is sometimes based in mythology where a creator god "writes" the "Story" of history. The device might come from a mysterious deal, a magic spell, a technical device gone strangely wrong, editing the Tomes of Prophecy and Fate, or it could just be, y'know, there.

In some cases, the user may not even know about the power: an author may use a cursed device to create some form of unstoppable monster, or cause all sorts of wacky hijinks for his friends. Or it may be used purposefully but unwisely, taking the statements with cruel literal-mindedness. Or perhaps the Big Bad has just found a new source of fun.

The ensuing mayhem can often be stopped by destroying the object that caused it, or killing the writer, which may, or may not, lead to a Snap Back or the writer waking to find it All Just a Dream. Other methods may involve working within story rules, either playing to or breaking the conventions of the genre.

Not to be confused with figuratively rewriting reality. Compare with Art Initiates Life, where the visual arts shape reality or Formulaic Magic, where it is pure mathematics that will change reality. See also: I Know Your True Name, Language of Magic, All Just a Dream.

Examples of Rewriting Reality include:


Anime & Manga

  • The eponymous notebook from Death Note, though it's only good for killing people and controlling the events leading up to their deaths. The Death Note could be used to make a prison inmate sing show tunes for an hour before he dies from a heart attack, but there are limits and rules to its power. It couldn't make him sing show tunes he doesn't know, and it's against the rules for him to kill anyone. Physical impossibilities like teleportation or levitation are similarly off-limits.
    • The list of rules is ridiculously long and arcane and could fill a tropes pages of its own.
  • The non-card form of The Create of Cardcaptor Sakura was a book that made anything you write in it reality. This caused quite a bit of a problem for the titular heroine when it fell into the hands of her fantasy story-loving friend.
  • Rohan Kishibe from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure has a stand, Heaven's Door, that can turn people into human books and rewrite them. While he usually uses it to manipulate memories and control a person's actions, it has also, to shown the ability to control what happens to them.
  • From S-Cry-ed, the Alter (superpower) of Unkei is called "Mad Sprict" [sic] and enables him to write a script for reality that people will follow, and alter perceptions and (to a lesser extent) memories to fit. Not as powerful as other examples of the trope, as he can't seem to make someone behave completely out of character, he can't affect the perceptions of a character with superpowered perceptions, and the only times we see it used it was directed at a single victim. It also doesn't work very well if the person figures out what's going on. Which is bad, because then they are majorly pissed.
  • Lain gets ability to do this by the end of her series. She uses it to wipe out all the abnormal, dangerous elements from the world, including herself. Though she still remains watching from the outside...
  • Ancientwisemon from Digimon Frontier has the ability to rewrite the past, present and future by using the Akashic Records.
  • In Princess Tutu, Drosselmeyer and his descendant Fakir can LITERALLY rewrite reality. During the climax of the series, the former uses his powers to forcibly change what the latter is trying to write, making this reality-rewriting-rewriting.


Comicbooks

  • In the Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover Secret Wars, Doctor Doom acquires the power of the Sufficiently Advanced Alien known as the Beyonder and kills all the heroes. His "friend", Klaw, mentions that Colossus may have survived and revived the others, and just by considering the possibility, Doctor Doom turns it into reality.
    • The Animated Adaptation featured a somewhat less evil (but no less egotistical) Doctor Doom and a less godlike Beyonder. When he obtained the Beyonder's powers, his dreams started to create all manner of monsters that ran rampant. (Says a lot about what that guy's mind is like.)
  • In DC Comics, John Ostrander's run on Suicide Squad briefly featured a character called "The Writer" who had the ability to control reality by writing on his laptop. However, now he was part of "the continuity" the other Writers could control him. He was soon killed due to writer's block. Canonically, the character was Grant Morrison, who wrote himself into continuity in Animal Man.
    • Morrison himself later gave the ability to Pulse-8, an Ultramarine Corps character he created in JLA, and the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp in Seven Soldiers. Like the Writer, the Unknown Men resembled Morrison.
  • The Judgement Day mini-series from Awesome Comics dealt with a mysterious book that could warp reality. Writing in the book would cause what the writer had written to come to pass.
  • An arc in Shade the Changing Man featured an inversion. Anything that frustrated writer Miles Laimling wrote would be fictional, even if it were true before. Miles drew inspiration from personalities around him, and as their traits became more lifelike in his fiction, those traits would fade from the individuals they were inspired from.
    • Played straight at the end of the arc when Laimling types a passage that grants Shade his full size and powers back, not by negating the effects trapping him, but by affirming that he had them.
  • One of the latter Mike Wieringo issues of Fantastic Four had God, who resembled Jack Kirby, re-draw reality. Ben Grimm literally gets his rockiness drawn onto him to 'compress his sub-plot'. Writing shows up when God gets a call giving Him several ideas. When questioned, He states it was His "Collaborator. 'Nuff said."
  • Kevin Thorne from the Vertigo Comics title Fables is the 'Literal' personification of this trope.
  • It is the main motive of "Fone" (title that can be translated, er, as The Ond), a short comic tale by Milo Manara ("Shorts", 1995). The two characters (an alien and a human) are able to leave a strange "planet of books" by reading (not writing) a mysterious book which describes their lucky escape. The act of reading makes real the description, alas, completed with typos. And also the typos, also the nonsensical ones, become immediately real... The name of the planet is "Borges prophet" (see Literature, here above).
  • It becomes a centre plot point in the final book of the 6-books comic "Koma", by Wazem e Peeters (2003-2008). The tale starts in a victorian-like industrial town, where is living Addidas, an ill child with a thing for strange words. She finds an underworld where giant humanoids are maintaining machineries linked with every single human - but not her. In the last volume, the child meets one of the demiurges that constructed the devices (a creepy red amorphous creature) that thinks of her as a virus, since she is able to be alive also if her machine is destroyed. So she is "real" and we have the duel: both begins to warp the reality with gestures (the blob) and words (the child), but using a vocabulary the child is able to rewrite the being itself.
  • In The Sandman there is a possible version of this. The character Destiny is chained to a large book in which the destiny of the entire universe is written, and it is implied that writing in the book would change history, but no one has ever done this because destiny can't be changed.
  • A Superman comic featured a pulp writer whose creations came to life, unknown to him. One group of these creations ran rampant because the writer didn't finish their book, leaving them uncontrolled and unstoppable. Superman finally figured out what was happening and got the writer to finish the book, whose ending caused the bad guys to remove themselves from existence.
  • Marvel's Silver Age anthology series Tales To Astonish (the series which would later feature the first appearance of Ant-Man) had a few of these. One involved a writer whose stories started coming true, spawning monsters who were destroyed exactly as the story went. Unfortunately, he didn't realize the connection until after writing a story about "X," a shapeshifter that could not be destroyed by any means. He discovers that his antique typewriter is the source of this power, and destroys it when X tries to stop him from re-writing the story. X evidently has No Ontological Inertia, and fades into nothingness.
  • The first arc of Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol dealt with an invasion by the Scissormen of Orqwith, who "cut" people out of reality. It turned out, however, that Orqwith was a fantasy created by a group of writers... but now that it had attained purpose, it was trying to write itself into reality.


Fan Fiction

  • There have been at least two Fan Fics for The Beatles' fandom involving using a magic typewriter to prevent John Lennon's assassination. (No links; not even a guarantee that they both still exist.) One of them had a typewriter that, for the first document it typed only, changed reality; the person who sold it to the Beatlemaniac had used it to prevent the Cuban Missile Crisis from becoming a nuclear holocaust.
  • There's a story on fanfiction.net called Consequences in which some of the popular Discworld characters get heartily sick of fanfiction writers constantly forcing them to get off with one another, turn into supernatural creatures, and have Harry Potter invading their universe. They eventually get revenge by writing stories about the fanfic writers, forcing them to Retcon everything they did to the characters in their fanfics and then kill themselves.

  Vimes: How is it possible for one man to be a vampire, a werewolf, and a homosexual at the same time?

  • In The Mad Scientist Wars Andrew Tinker is a Mad Scientist with his doctorate in English, who can invoke this trope by writing on just about anything- he prefers to use an old Notebook of his. However, he's very aware of the consequences and tries not to rely on it too much- except a few choice incidents where he has:
    • Brought the Dead back to life (Although it has been established that he can't do it if too much time has passed)
    • Created little odds and ends- a new Cravat, a new room in his house.
    • Made a character he wrote real, a Demon named Sayasuke- 'and inserted him into the last 500 years of Japanese history to support his backstory.'
  • In the second When Worlds Collide fic, Dark Danny becomes all-powerful when he steals the author's keyboard.


Film

  • The Butterfly Effect combines magical writing with Mental Time Travel.
  • In the Mouth of Madness had a living character and town that was written into existence by an author called Sutter Cane, who also produces a number of retcons that remove a character from existence and reshuffle an entire sequence of events within the film. By the end of the film, the entire world has apparently been absorbed by Cane's latest novel. It should be noted that once he finishes his novel close to the end of the film, Cane appears to be able to warp reality at will, as demonstrated with the conversations he has with John Trent.
  • In Stranger Than Fiction, the lead character begins hearing a voice narrating his day. He finds out he's a character in a novel, the voice is the author of his story, which happens to be a tragedy.
  • In Monty Python and The Holy Grail, the protagonists face an animated monster which they only escape when the animator has a fatal heart attack.
  • In the short film The Census Taker, the title character begins falsifying his census forms when the locals keep slamming their doors in his face, then finds that whatever he writes becomes fact -- an empty house suddenly becoming home to a happy family of five, for instance. In the end, someone is coming to kill him for reasons this editor can't recall, so he picks up a census form and writes himself into a life of wealthy wedded bliss.
  • The John Candy movie Delirious had him as a soap opera writer named Jack Gable. After taking a head injury, he found himself in his own soap opera. The limitation was that he could only directly affect characters for which he was the primary writer before. This did not prevent him from causing all kind of chaos before having his karmic epiphany. Fun included forcing Raymond Burr's character to not leave his house because he had to wait for the cable guy, and when Robert Wagner made an inconvenient guest appearance as Jack Gates:

 Jack Gates: I have to go to... Cleveland? Jesus, I hate Cleveland!

later:

 Jack Gable: What are you doing here? I sent you to Cleveland.

Jack Gates: I should kill you for that alone.

  • The Chalk of Fate in Day Watch, with the twist that it only really works if you rewrite your own fate -- trying to bring other people back to life or patch up rocky relationships just won't work. If you're rewriting your own fate, though, you can go pretty far to the point of a Retcon of your own supernatural nature.
  • An interesting variation happens in Inkheart, in which the characters of a book are read out of the book. Reality then needs to be (literally) rewritten to kill/send them back in.
  • Forbidden Planet: "Monsters! Monsters from the id!"
  • Pretty much the plot of the Final Destination series. Turns out reality doesn't take kindly to rewrites.


Literature

  • The story Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius, by Jorge Luis Borges, is about a secret conspiracy that wants to turn the objective, God-based, incomprehensible universe into a subjective, man-based, comprehensible one. They do this by writing encyclopedias.
  • The Stephen King story, Word Processor of the Gods. (This was adapted into a Tales from the Darkside episode of the same title.)
  • The Neverending Story is, within the story itself, a book that is reality itself. Anything that is written into it happens, and everything that happens is written into it.
    • At one point in the story, the Childlike Empress forced Bastian's hand by ordering the Old Man of Wandering Mountain, who writes the book, to recount the story to her. By doing so, he spoke every line of the book, and wrote himself speaking those lines, and so continued to write and recite and write over and over, with all those events repeating themselves each time, until Bastian called out the Childlike Empress's new name and broke the cycle.
  • The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jefferys features books that people can step into that act as a pocket of reality. The books interact with a living mind and can end up being Your Worst Nightmare, giving the user a subconscious Literal Genie that kills the user, or a Lotus Eater Machine.
  • The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect is a story about a computer with a circuit that can alter reality, acting as personal Lotus Eater Machine to every human on Earth, unless what you want is suicide.
  • Susannah Clarke's story The Duke of Wellington Misplaces his Horse is about the historical figure following the beast into the faery world of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and encountering a woman knitting a tapestry writing the future, which he changes when seeing it includes his death from a quarrel with a knight.
  • The Well of Souls, in Jack Chalker's novel series, is a massive computer responsible for maintaining the entire universe, and getting access to it allows rewrites on a universe-wide level. The human-made computer Obie is a much smaller and limited version of same, but still capable of rewriting the reality of entire planets.
  • A similar sort of thing occurs on the planet that has been colonized by humans in the Flux and Anchor series. The planet was initially covered in an energy field (Flux) that allowed for the manipulation of matter and energy, and the areas humans colonized (Anchors) were areas where the reality had been fixed. And then someone gets access to the computers giving them control over the Flux and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones has a typewriter that's enchanted to do this, as the result of a misunderstanding between magician siblings. It ends up being used to force a number of the siblings, including the one who enchanted it, into a spaceship making a one-way trip to Alpha Centauri.
  • The Glooper machine in Making Money works like this, only with the flow of water replacing writing, and it only affected the circulation of gold.
  • This is the role of the Hierophant in Chris Wooding's novel Poison. Interestingly, the books relating to a person's life are not written until they die, nor do they necessarily end at the person's death - they are the story of that person, so would need to be in a different tone if the person devoted their life to charity than if they, say, murdered all their friends, and if the story continues after/ends before the person dies, that's where the book ends.
  • This is how the entirety of wizardry works in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series; basically, if you're really young and really, really good at using language, and willing to take and abide by the Oath (and take a few life-or-death risks, oh, every other week or so), you get the cheat codes to the universe.
  • In Piers Anthony's Xanth books, Com-Pewter can rewrite reality, but only in its immediate vicinity.
  • Since Thursday Next takes place mostly within the Book World, it can be rewritten from either the inside, or by editing an early copy of the book or text. If a fictional character escapes into reality, it's still possible to rewrite it with the right book. Since the Thursday Next series (written by Jasper Fforde, not the series-within-the-series) may be the final, rewritten version of the series, rewriting the real reality in the series may be possible.
  • The main character of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven could rewrite reality through his dreams. Unique in that he had absolutely no conscious control over this power, which only manifested itself as a sort of last ditch defense mechanism against sudden and/or drastic changes in his life - an abusive aunt moving into his childhood home, for example, or global thermonuclear war.
  • The underlying premise of Michael Grant's Gone ' hexalogy is that the laws of physics are just as hackable as lines of computer code. The series begins with every person over the age of 15 suddenly vanishing and an insurmountable barrier appearing over the town of Perdido Beach, California and recounts the struggles of the "survivors". Thus far it appears to be the work of an autistic 4 year old who BSODs in the middle of a Chernobyl-style nuclear meltdown and creates a stable pocket dimension and everyone else comes along for the ride.
  • In "My Life as a Computer Cockroach" (or "My Life as a Mixed-up Millennium Bug"), the lead character accidentally creates a program that rewrites reality. He uses it to change his grades, and mayhem, as always, follows.
  • The Wall and the Wing has the scientist's pen that when written with adjust reality, but in an unusual way. When the thief that stole it from the scientist writes (not knowing it's powers) "I will be a rich man when pigs fly," he becomes the worlds richest man and humans start flying.
  • Ulises Silva's Solstice tells of Scribes, people who have the magical ability to change reality with the written word. Anything they write happens, up to and including forging new objects out of thin air, as long as any changes made seem to conform to the laws of reality- you can write a gun into being under the seat of the car (because you can find it as if its always been there or left there by someone else earlier), but you cannot write the same gun as just appearing in your hands (because guns can't do that)- the Scribes' magic seems to work based on the idea that while, for them, Life imitates Art, the Art they're making still imitates Life.
  • One of the first indications of anything supernatural going on in The Fire Within series is that David's short story he's writing about a squirrel is actually happening outside effectively parallel with his typing. As in, he mentions that the squirrel jumps onto a washing line and the Pennykettles' voices drift in from the window exclaiming about precisely that (though he doesn't pay any attention.) Debatable as to whether he's writing reality or simply being precognitive, but it seems to be the first.
  • In the Goosebumps novel "The Blob That Ate Everyone", the hero gets a magic typewriter that causes anything he types to become reality. In the end, we find out that the typewriter actually gave the kid the power to warp reality with his mind.
  • Labyrinths of Echo series has it in the grand finale. The Minor Investigative Force stumbles on an ancient artifact, the seal that makes a page come true just by stamping it. But it directly affects only the people whose signature is there, which mostly limits the user to wishing himself good things until he fails to add "...and no one notices". Max deprived of the good guidance, naturally, writes "Sir Max goes out and rescues his missing boss", signs and stamps. Subverted when he was told by said boss that it's nuts -- Max made it up and he'd bet there's no seal in the safe by now. Which figures, given that he procured Max as a major Reality Warper because his dying world couldn't produce any in last millenia. And a few great mages capable of second-rate emulation of this power wouldn't impart it into crazy toys.
  • In In the Net of Dreams, the Fantasy Land immersion world acknowledge's the status of the game's designers and programmers inside the game as outside. This enhances the magic powers of low ranking programmers, while the senior staff can become reality warpers, if they so choose. It turns out rewriting the program while you are inside and it is running is a bad idea.
  • A variation on the theme appears in J. Michael Straczynski's story "Cold Type", in which the protagonist has the power to completely erase a book from existence (i.e. create a new reality in which that book was never written) by burning one copy. A religious fundamentalist convinces him to transfer the power, intending to use it on a wide range of "anti-Christian" books. The protagonist tries to get him to stop, and resorts to burning the fundamentalist's driver's license, thus erasing him from existence with a bit of the power he'd held back. The story ends with the protagonist thoughtfully holding the fundamentalist's copy of the Bible....


Live-Action TV

  • The Twilight Zone episode "Printer's Devil" features a linotype machine (gotten via a Deal with the Devil) that causes the horrific accidents that are reported on before they actually happen to become reality. The reporter who writes these 'scoops' is in fact the devil. The 'infernal machine' is eventually used to break the contract that got it to begin with.
    • Another episode had a variation of this, in that anything the author spoke into a tape recorder became real.
      • Humorously subverted by the fact that he could also destroy the creations by destroying the tape. This is how he stopped a fight between his wife and mistress. Cut to Rod Serling's closing monologue about how the story was complete fiction. The main character interrupts Rod to warn him about saying such things, revealing a line of tape labelled "Rod Serling" and tossing it onto the fire. This was the first appearance of Rod onscreen to do the monologue and was so well received that he came on for almost every episode afterwards. However, it was the only time he interacted with the story's characters.
  • The Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "Tale of the Dream Machine".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess episode "The Quill Is Mightier...".
  • Stephen Colbert thinks he can do this with Wikipedia, creating "Wikiality".
    • Fans immediately created Wikiality.net, where Colbert's word really is law.
  • Used for comic purposes in The Goon Show episode "Six Charlies in Search of an Author".
  • The second season of Beetleborgs concerned the Big Bad using the evil brother of the creator of the Beetleborg comic to create/summon Mooks.
  • The X-Files episode "Milagro" features a serial killer spawned from a story written by Mulder's next-door neighbor.
  • Clive Barker's Masters of Horror episode "Valerie on the Stairs" is about a Round Robin story which, unbeknownst to its authors, was causing real people to be murdered. Eventually, the story's characters broke from the script and killed the authors.
  • In Doctor Who story "The Mind Robber", the Doctor and his companions wind up in the Land of Fiction, populated entirely by characters who are fictional (even within the world of Doctor Who) or mythical--e.g. Medusa, Rapunzel, Gulliver. The Land is controlled by the Master of the Land of Fiction (not to be confused with recurring villain The Master), a prolific hack writer who somehow wound up in this place. He makes everything happen by writing it. The Doctor finds a typewriter in the villain's castle and they have a Rewriting Reality showdown. (Also, the Doctor's companions are temporarily turned into fiction.)
    • The Master of the Land of Fiction is explicitly indicated to be the author of 'The Adventures of Jack Harkaway', published in Ensign magazine. Both are real, as is their writer. What trope is that?
  • The 2009 Red Dwarf three-part special used this when the characters were sucked into another dimension in which they were fictional characters. After tracking down and killing their creator, they were bemused to find that they didn't die, and that it wasn't necessary for Lister to keep typing for them to continue to do anything. Funny, though.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Elementary, dear Data" a character of one a holodeck simulation gets the possibility to control the simulation he is in; thus he can rewrite his own reality.
  • A recurring sketch on The Carol Burnett Show featured a writer struggling to write a scene while we saw the characters acting out what he wrote and frantically trying to adjust to their shifting reality as the writer changed his mind and rewrote events as he went. Sometimes the humor came from ambiguous text passages being brought to life, as when a woman was giving multiple births in a life raft awaiting rescue: "It's a boy! It's a girl! It's a submarine!"
  • In Warehouse 13, Edgar Allan Poe's notebook made anything written in it with his pen real. Fortunately, the person who ended up using it only copied Poe's horror deathtraps. Or maybe it only made Poe's horror deathtraps real. It wasn't explained very well...but then, not many of the Artifacts are, which is most of why they're dangerous.
  • In Charmed, Paige and Kyle were sucked into a magical book and become their characters. Phoebe was able to help out by writing stuff in it. Unfortunately, she is limited to what she could change so she couldn't write them out.
  • In Lost Girl, the Blood King can do this with his book, if he writes in his own blood. He only uses it as a last resort, as each change always comes with a price.
  • This is the gimmick of the Power Rangers Time Force Monster of the Week Cinecon; he's a film director who can make anything written in his script come true. This ability is so potent that he's only beaten through dumb luck, as Trip had earlier absentmindedly ripped out the page of the script where he beats the Rangers.
  • Used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in "I Robot, You Jane". Because Moloch was inside the computer, the invocation to bind him had to be typed into the machine while it was being spoken.


Tabletop Games

  • The Advanced Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook The Book of Artifacts introduces Kuroth's Quill, a magical pen that can grant wishes (as always, with a twist) or even alter reality by writing things down.
  • Commodore Guff from Magic the Gathering possibly has this ability.
    • He's actually an editor. We never see the writer.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the Order of Hermes is big on language (and numbers and formulas). This is often depicted as speech - literally telling reality what to do - but House Shaea in particular is also interested in written magick (and written historical records).
    • Meanwhile, the Virtual Adepts practice magic mostly by writing and executing computer programs.
  • The french tabletop game Le Donjon De Naheulbeuk contain the legendary Pen of Chaos (Pen of Chaos being the name of the game's creator). This pen is an ordinary pen, except it writes on history itself.


Videogames

  • In the Myst series, entire worlds, called "Ages", seem to be literally created by writing descriptions of them in books, and they can then be traveled to through the book. This becomes an important plot point in the novelizations and in later games in the series, however; canonically, a version of the Many Worlds theory is true and the other universes already exist, and the Descriptive Books act as a search engine to find the right one.
    • It works both ways. A Descriptive Book, once linked to a (preexisting) world, can be rewritten to effect changes in it. However, significant changes to a Descriptive Book can result in a link to a different world entirely.
      • Also, a normal Linking Book (most commonly found throughout the games/novelizations) can be much less stringent in its description than a Descriptive Book (necessary for purposes of portability), but two conditions need to be made: it must be connected to the Descriptive Book in some fashion (either through descriptive evocation or through some magical form of quantum-entanglement is never established). A Descriptive book is only encountered thrice during the games: The descriptive Riven book, which appears in the eponymous game as Atrus is frantically making Stabilizing Edits to it in an effort to keep it from dying permanently until Catherine can be rescued; the same book again in Exile, where it is lying discarded on a lectern, its link black and crackling with slow lightning after the events of Riven; and the Releeshahn Book stolen by Saavedro in Exile. Atrus was understandably frantic about this theft, because the same power in the Books that allowed him to prolong the life of Riven could be used by Saavedro to destroy that world and everyone in it. Fortunately, his intentions were not quite so wicked, or possibly he never realised the Book had this potential.
    • 'Ought also be noted that the 'search engine' is notoriously difficult to handle. The described world is sought out, yes, however it may only link to the moment during which a world existed as described. Instabilities, shoddy, lazy, or poor description, can lead to destabilization of an 'age', sometimes from the moment of linking, sometimes over time. The culture that created the linking techniques had an entire guild dedicated solely to making certain that linked worlds were safe to visit, often employing suits capable of surviving a couple of seconds inside a supernova. Oh, and Earth was linked to like this from the dying D'ni home world (as you probably guessed from the opening of the first game), and is considered one of the greatest works ever created.
    • The books Yeesha writes take this to extremes; previously it was thought that under no circumstances could you actually change a world, you could only make certain something which might potentially have been there already but no one had yet observed its presence or lack thereof to collapse the waveform. It turns out many of what were thought to be hard-and-fast natural laws on this subject were actually just ancient guild traditions. Since Yeesha was taught to write by completely different people who didn't have these restrictions in their dogma, so she can accomplish the supposedly impossible through Achievements in Ignorance.
    • The Bahro, mentioned in URU and appearing in End of Ages, have a similar but very distinct ability to make changes to an Age while one is present inside it, apparently at will. They can be controlled by a particular tablet. How this works is not explained, but it seems to be related to the "instancing" phenomenon in URU, where infinite alternative Ages exist which are identical except for some infinitesimal detail. However, if the Bahro change an Age by, say, making it rain, anything done by the player before the rain ends stays done, suggesting that one is still in the same Age the whole time.
  • The Sacred Tome in Makai Kingdom fulfills the wishes written upon it, but this comes with a hefty price in mana... Also, damaging the book or its writings inflicts the same on whatever was created by that particular line of text, so needless to say doing so is usually a spectacularly bad idea -- especially if your entire netherworld is written down in it. It goes without saying that Zetta does it anyway.
    • However, when writing something into the book, the book's spirit has to accept the wish before it becomes reality. This explains why King Drake III's wish for Zetta to yield control of his Netherworld to him (Zetta -> Drake, that is) continues to disappear when it is written down. Pram reprimands him on it after being tipped off by Trenia. That's how she knew about that function, too - Trenia was the spirit of the Sacred Tome before Zetta confined himself inside it.
    • It also happens in-game, too. If a curative spell is cast on the Sacred Tome, it affects everything on the map, ally or enemy. Likewise, if the Tome ever gets damaged by anything (accidentally or not), everything on the map suffers Massive Damage, and you're not allowed to run away from that particular battle.
  • Used in the Neverwinter Nights expansion Shadows of Undrentide. A certain library has two books that the player can enter, and later rewrite to end happily.
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge: The titular Cosmic Forge is a pen that allows the one who holds it to literally write reality-what one writes with it, happens. However, although the Cosmic Forge always fulfills the writer's instructions to the letter, it also has a nasty habit of interpreting those instructions rather differently than the writer intends (its Bane)...
  • Namine can manipulate memories via drawings.
  • This is a major gameplay element in Avalon Code. Your hero can use the Book of Prophecy to scan objects, and by switching around their inherent "codes", you can change their properties. For instance, adding a "Copper" code to a blank Sword template grants you a Copper Sword.
  • In Scribblenauts, Maxwell has a magic notepad that he (that is, you) can write in to summon damn near anything that can be expressed as a noun.
    • Super Scribblenauts is even better, as they added a few more nouns they forgot to put in the first game and added adjectives. Now you can summon "happy playful Cthulhu Mythos."
  • Trevor Pearlharbor from Killer 7 thinks he can do this with the manga books he writes, but it's actually all rigged, and Trevor is killed by his "creations"; the Handsome Men.
  • A Zork fan-made game plays this for laughs as the solution to a puzzle: At one point, the Player Character is transported to the room of the game's writer and rewrites the game to remove an impenetrable wall. When returned to the world of the game, the wall is gone.
  • System Shock 2. Oddly, when SHODAN does get control temporarily, her pocket of personal reality looks suspiciously similar to virtual reality of the first game.
  • This is the primary power of the Star Singers in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates. Or so it appears. In truth, there are a near infinite, but not quite, number of parallel realities. And not only do Star Signers "select" from them which is real, but all magic is based on this principal. For example a fire materia selects a universe where the target happens to be on fire. The greater ones power, the more changed a universe they can select. In the end, Yuri and Chalinka surpass this, and become capable of performing the trope in full.
  • The action in Alan Wake starts picking up when the titular author starts finding pages from a book he can't remember writing and the pages start coming true. Turns out the lake with the cabin Alan was vacationing in has the power to make works of art made there come true; he suffered a week's worth of amnesia while writing the pages under the influence of an Eldritch Abomination. Said abomination was trying to get Alan to free it, but he realized what was happening and wrote his escape into his manuscript.
  • The recently announced Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney implies in its trailer that whatever the villain (appropriately called "Story Teller") writes in his books becomes reality.
  • The Rune-Keeper in The Lord of the Rings Online practices his "magic" by scribing runes onto stones. As so many skill descriptions begin, "When the rune-keeper writes of x, the effects can be real." Not every attack or healing spell is carried out this way, but a good many are.

Web Comics

  • Dresden Codak possesses a writer who has the power to alter reality by writing it. However, he has a few rules about it.
  • The Celestial Files in Misfile tell the world what it should be. For example, put a boy's file in the "girl" file and Hilarity Ensues.
    • It's interesting in this case that the contents of the file tell all about who you are, while the location of the file in the system tells the world what you are. One of the threats to the protagonists is that eventually the system's error-correction will notice the discrepancy... and fix it by editing the contents.


Web Originals

  • In the first episode of Ashen's Tech Dump, Dr. Ashen interviews a researcher who has cracked the "source code" used by God to create the universe and wrote a program to access its functions with simple keywords. To Ashen's dismay, rather than use this power for anything noble, he was more interested in using it to start booty parties.
  • It is implied that this is how low magic works in Adylheim, with the caster's using various words of power (among other things) to cast spells.
  • The various Master PC stories involve a computer program which can do this on a personal level. Most such stories are pornography involving mind control and body modification, but some explore the unintended consequences of such a powerful tool.


Western Animation

  • Extreme Ghostbusters had a story involving a horror writer who was kidnapped by his own creations, who were using him to write out their ultimate victory.
    • The Real Ghostbusters did a similar version involving the ghost of an Agatha Christie pastiche who had died without finishing her last novel. Winston had to solve the mystery in order to make the ghosts of her characters disappear.
  • G.I. Joe featured an episode that had a MacGuffin Device (literally named this) that caused the owner's imaginings to come to life. Shipwreck was retelling Cinderella (with himself as the tormented main character) to orphans whose home he had accidentally burnt down; his annoying allies were rebuilding the place (Shipwreck is the focus of a LOT of weirdness in the series). Cue parody versions of Shipwreck's allies beating the tar out of attacking Cobra forces.
  • The Danny Phantom episode, "The Fright Before Christmas".
  • Jackie Chan Adventures once featured a plot about the "Book of Ages," a book in which history was magically recorded. However, human intervention is possible by just writing on the next available page of the book, thus offsetting anything previously written and enabling the writer to change history.
    • Shendu possesses Jackie and writes it so that all the demons were never sealed away. Humans are slaves to the demons now, and technology is outlawed. Nobody remembers what it was like in the original continuity, except Jade, who ripped her page out so Shendu couldn't overwrite it.
    • Jade and Paco have some fun with this at the end, with Jade beefing up Jackie, and Paco beefing up El Toro, and then continuing to one up each other until Uncle puts his foot down and tells them to write him getting rid of the demons, which they do. Once everything is back to normal, Jade finds the place where her page goes and resets the timeline.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents has a neat variation. Changing the text of a non-fiction book changes the reality it describes. Altering a biography on the last President to say he was a foot shorter? His bodyguards will be happier. And, on the show, Hilarity Ensues when Cosmo gets his wand on a physics textbook.
  • Transformers Prime's Alpha Trion has an artifact called the Quill, a mechanical pen that, when used to write in the Covenant of Primus, can to a limited extent alter the future.
  • Dexters Laboratory creates the Hypnotic Pen in "Used Ink". Hilarity Ensues when it falls into the wrong hands.
  • There was an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 where Donatello came across a Jack Kirby expy who's drawings would come to life because of a lucky rock he tied to his pencil. (The episode was actually based on an old TMNT children's book)


Real Life

  • Any writer. They don't rewrite Real Life, but they can change the universe in any story they create.
    • What about Fan Fiction writers? They can also change whatever they want, and they didn't create the Canon.
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