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Rewriting Reality

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"There! Now he's trapped in a book I wrote — a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors!"

"There's an old tale wrought with mystery, of Tom the Poet and his muse
And a magic lake which gave a life to the words the poet used..."
Old Gods Of Asgard, "The Poet And The Muse", Alan Wake


Writers often use to the power of stories to evoke feelings and create new worlds. Rewriting Reality is a form of magic where the invocation is writing, or in more recent tales, typing, is literally magic. 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 story's genre.

Subtrope of The Power of Language. Compare with Author Powers, in which a character within the story has this sort of power because they are an author interacting with their creations. Unlike this trope they don't necessarily need a writing device for this, though. Also a sister trope to Universal Remote Control.

Also 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, and All Just a Dream.


Not to be confused with figuratively rewriting reality.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The notebook from Death Note- though it's only good for killing people and controlling 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 rather realistic 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 even levitation are similarly off-limits. The list of rules is ridiculously long and arcane.
  • 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 then fell into the hands of her fantasy story-loving friend.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Rohan Kishibe's Stand, Heaven's Door, lets him 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 shown the ability to control what happens to them. Since whatever's in the human-books is absolutely true, he can make just about anything happen to someone, such as, hypothetically, writing "I will punch myself in the face whenever I hear somebody sneeze".
  • 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 super-powered 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. Unkei doesn't do himself any favors by being an obliviously hack writer who doesn't research his targets, leading to his illusions inevitably backfiring.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: 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 and are known as the Story Spinners. 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. The power can be passed on through generations, however, if a Spinner’s powers are not strong enough, their story will conform to reality rather than the other way around.
  • In Bungo Stray Dogs, Kunikida Doppo's power involves the use of a notebook to write things into reality. The problem is that things larger than the book are a no-go zone.
    • In the same series, there is also the Book, which is capable of much more powerful reality-altering; writing in it permanently rewrites past, present and future to fit with what you've written. As a result, everyone wants to get their hands on it, even if it means razing Yokohama to the ground. Late in the series, the Decay of Angels manage to get their hands on at least one page, and use it to frame the Armed Detective Agency.
  • Financial dealings have this effect in [C] – Control. If someone goes bankrupt as a result of a losing deal in the Financial District, they literally lose their future, which can affect the present - for example, Professor Ebari's children cease to have ever existed, and his wife leaves him soon after. Also, the 2008 Lehman Bros. collapse and the knock-on effects on the South American stock markets result in the Caribbean Republic no longer existing.
  • In Shelter, Rin has the power to change the world around her using a tablet because she is in a virtual reality machine.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Grant Morrison gave the ability to Pulse-8, an Ultramarine Corps character he created in Justice League, and the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp in Seven Soldiers. The Unknown Men resembled Morrison.
  • The Youngblood: Judgment 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.
  • Shade, the Changing Man:
    • An arc from 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A very odd story in The Brave and the Bold has the Western Terrorists who were the villains of that issue kidnapping artist Jim Aparo and forcing him to redraw the story so that Batman and Sgt. Rock were killed.
  • Usagi Yojimbo had an enchanted/possessed inkset that made whatever was painted with it come to life.
  • The final issue of the first series of Paperinik New Adventures has Everett find a book with this power and use it to explore a number of potential scenarios. In the end he burns it, preventing the scenarios from taking place... Except for a single page that brings Lyla back from the future.
  • Loki in Journey into Mystery (Gillen) does this to give the previously invincible Serpent a weakness. This backfires later on Loki when said weakness (a girl the Serpent once cared for) turns out to be alive... and angry.
  • The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: The western town of Atonement in the afterlife includes an author who is writing Ichabod's tale as it happens. Eventually however his typewriter takes over and continues the story without his help.
  • The canon Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books feature such a book as a long term plot device. Due to many magical resets a book the good guys control is now the tome of magic and new rules written in it become the rules of magic. If they make sense with what came before. Making a normal human a mighty wizard would be rejecting but tweaking a wizard's powers would easily work.
  • An issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage) had Donatello stumble across a young artist (based on Jack Kirby) who possessed jewel strapped to a pencil that brought anything he drew to life for a few minutes before vanishing into a puff of smoke, save for an ominous looking door. Sure enough, said door lead to the world the drawn characters had been vanishing to, the natives now being terrorized by the robotic monsters the artist had been making for the last month. Donatello attempted to fight back against the monsters, augmented by enhancements his friend drew for him, but was in danger of being overwhelmed by superior numbers. Finally the artist had the bright idea to go back through his sketchbook and draw bindings and cuffs on the robots, rendering them immobile. The dimension was never revisited again but the jewel came back into play in April O'Neil's backstory when it was revealed she was drawn to life by her father. She only lasts indefinitely because he used ink instead of pencil.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth's "The Enchanted Quill": The main character is given a magic feather which may make any wish she writes down come true.
    Suddenly the crow appeared at the window, turned his wing to her, and said: "Pull out one of my feathers, and if you use it to write down a wish, the wish will come true." With a heavy heart she pulled a feather out. Before the noonday meal, she wrote down the names of the very finest dishes with the quill. The food appeared on the table in bowls that sparkled and glowed.

    Fan Works 
  • Queen of Shadows: Shendu tried to use the Book of Ages to accomplish this, as per canon, but lost control of the outcome.
  • 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 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 second When Worlds Collide Series fic, Dark Danny becomes all-powerful when he steals the author's keyboard.
  • The Pony POV Series has had two examples of this, both horrifying:
    • In the Shining Armor Arc, General-Admiral Makarov is revealed to be an Equineoid Abomination Reality Warper, who is slowly changing reality to make himself beloved God-Emperor of the world, in the process turning into a Crapsaccharine World making its way to full Crapsack World. When Shining defeats him by feeding him to the Blank Wolf, it triggers a Cosmic Retcon that returns the world to its Lighter and Softer normal state.
    • During the Finale Arc, Discord and his allies somehow manage to make it so that every belief held by anyone, if it's believed strongly enough, comes true, no matter how contradictory. This quickly turns the world into a grim dark Crapsack World due to them using the Foal Free Press (with help of one of Discord's cousins) to spread rumors, with Discord planning on making it so that it's always been this way. To put in perspective how bad this is, it's enough of a Godzilla Threshold for the Elders themselves to finally step in and get involved.
    • Thankfully, Applebloom hijacks the Rumors by fixing the cursed printing press after Diamond broke it and using the bit of Truth she'd been granted by Dark World Nightmare Mirror as the ink. This gives Applebloom the ability to rewrite reality to such a point she becomes The Omnipotent and even Discord at her mercy. She mainly uses this to repair the damage, but also makes the timeline a better place by changing bits of history for the better before relinquishing the power. In addition, since Nyarlathotrot was defeated and banished from the timeline, the curse cannot be recast, as he was the only one who knew how to do it.
  • The Story to End All Stories: The villain changes the ending of The Neverending Story so that the Childlike Empress dies and Fantasia is destroyed by the Nothing.
  • Gaz Dreams of Genie: Dib notes that genies can rewrite history and reality if allowed to by a wish, and there's evidence that the current reality is actually just the fruit of the 23rd such rewriting. After Gaz lets the genie out, her first wish accidentally writes Dib out of existence and creates a Villain World in which Zim won and enslaved humanity. After using her second wish to fix that, her third wish is for the power to grant her own wishes, which results in her switching lives with Azie and making things so that all memory of Gaz is erased and Azie has always been Dib's sister.

    Films — Animated 
  • The conflict of The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water revolves around a magic journal that can rewrite reality falling into the hands of the evil pirate Burger-Beard. And it just so happens that the Krabby Patty Secret Formula is written on one of the missing pages to the journal...
  • Wreck-It Ralph: It's possible to alter games and their inhabitants by messing with the source code. King Candy's plan revolves around this, and Ralph and Felix use this to give Q*bert and his friends a role in their game.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Butterfly Effect combines magical writing with Mental Time Travel.
  • Goosebumps (2015) has this as its premise.
  • 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. 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 and the voice is the author of his story, which happens to be a tragedy.
  • 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, 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!
    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.
  • In Ruby Sparks, a geek writes about a beautiful woman who comes to life. He finds that anything he writes about her affects her.
  • In The Matrix, individual lives and reality in general are literal hackable computer programs. Any of the rebels at any time can call Mission Control, ask for a rewrite of their code, and receive instant upgrades.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the knights escape a cartoon monster when the animator dies of a heart attack.

  • The story Tlön, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Wall and the Wing has the scientist's pen that, when written with, adjusts reality, but in an unusual way. When the thief that stole it from the scientist writes (not knowing its powers) "I will be a rich man when pigs fly," he becomes the world's 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 it's always been there or was 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 Last Dragon Chronicles 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.
    • The Fire Eternal reveals that Arthur can do it too.
    • Gywneth had her hand in messing with the flow of time by writing her dead counterpart back into reality.
  • 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. And then we find out that the entire book was a story written by a blob monster, which he was reading to his friend.
  • 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".
  • 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....
  • In Rebecca Lickiss's Eccentric Circles, fantasy writers affect Fairy. In particular, J. R. R. Tolkien created the current elves.
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron King, Nevernever is fundamentally changed by what is written about it. In particular, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, vulnerable to Cold Iron, are facing a new court — ruled over by the Iron King.
  • Taken to extremes in Rick Cook's Wiz Biz series, where a computer programmer pulled from Earth to a fantasy world invents a programming language for magic spells.
  • Scott Meyer's Magic 2.0 books are a tongue-in-cheek take on the idea that the whole of reality as we know it is nothing more than a complex computer program. Martin Banks is a hacker (who dislikes the term) who accidentally finds a strange file on a corporate server. He very quickly discovers that, by editing the file, he is literally Rewriting Reality. He learns how to teleport (by changing the geospatial coordinates in his entry in the file), time travel (by changing the time entry for himself in the file; but only to the past), and increase his bank account balance (which quickly earns him a visit from the US Treasury on suspicion of bank fraud). He writes an Android app for his phone to be able to do certain things without editing the file directly, including allowing his phone to be constantly charged by updating the phone's entry in the file to the same charge level every 10 seconds. The app also allows him to teleport, always stays connected no matter where (or when) he is by editing the phone's transmission area. When cornered by Treasury agents, he opts to flee to Medieval England, figuring he can pass himself off as a wizard. Once there, he finds out that he's not the first to find the file and end up in that time period. All the other "wizards" are guys just like him (in fact, many got pinched for updating their bank accounts), who live in the 12th century England as wizards, using an open-source shell to, basically, write commands and macros that respond to certain gestures and words (since many Englishmen in that time period know at least some Latin, the wizards are forced to use a bastardized form of Esperanto). Another thing Martin learns is that nothing the wizards do in the past appears to have any effect on the future (a wizard named Jimmy begins to call himself Merlin and has the king rename London to "Camelot" among other things). It's later revealed that there are many other "communes" of time travelers throughout the world and history. The largest one is Atlantis, a Lady Land built and ruled by sorceresses (since most other time periods are not kind to female magic users). Medieval England is the second largest, with Ancient China and "Arabian Nights" Days tied for the third place.
    • The wizards have three big no-nos regarding the use of the shell: experimenting on non-wizards, experimenting on other wizards without their permission, and changing the physical parameters of a person (usually fatal).
    • For obvious reasons, only someone from the age of computers is able to find the file. The second book introduces a person who finds the file in 1974 while working for Lockheed's Skunk Works.
  • The Anthony Boucher story "We Print the Truth" features a newspaper editor who is granted a wish—and wishes for the eponymous motto of his paper to be literally true. He finds out just how literal when things like a misprinted age turn real. Hilarity Ensues... until he finally realizes that this must stop and invokes something on the order of the Epimenides Paradox to do so.
  • Wings of Fire: Darkstalker transferred all of his animus power into a scroll to prevent the power from making him go insane. As a result, his scroll has this ability.
  • Alexandre Dumas is summoned as a Caster in one of the Snowfield Holy Grail Wars of Fate/strange fake. Since his life is pretty well known and he wasn't a magus at all, his container is one of the weakest Servants to ever be summoned. However, his extensive skill in cooking of all things, his experience as a curator of rare items and his talent as a writer blurred, allowing him a variant of this ability. One of his two Noble Phantasms allows him to "rewrite" the history of items - for instance, transforming common weapons into true Noble Phantasms. It works even better when using true magical materials, though it has a hard limit of not being able to further "fine tune" items with a rank higher than A, as by then "the item's story's complete" and there's nothing he can add to it. The other lets him superimpose parts of his experiences or those found in his writing upon the timeline of a human.
  • Mary Amato's The Word Eater is about a worm born with eyes and the magical ability to eat words instead of dirt, named Fip. Whenever Fip eats a word, the object or subject that word was referring to vanishes, at one point accidentally erasing a recently discovered star. When used on a subject, erasure removes any ontological effects, as when used on a torturous dog training method the dogs it was used on all suddenly become docile instead of vicious. The conflict of the story comes in the fact that words are the only thing Fip can eat, so keeping anything else from being erased becomes a matter of starving him. There's also some disgruntled students who almost use him to erase their school, with the protagonist worrying that the effect could abstractly extend to the staff and students, necessitating their thwarting. Ultimately, Fip is depowered when fed the words "Fip's magic" and becomes a normal, if still fully sighted and literate, pet worm for the rest of his life.
  • De Griezelbus: From the second book onwards, Onnoval's magic increases to the point where the monsters in his stories come to life and consider him their "father".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone:
    • The Twilight Zone (1959):
      • The 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.
      • Episode "A World of His Own" had a variation, in that anything the author spoke into a tape recorder became real. 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 Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Library", an aspiring writer named Ellie Pendleton gets a job working at a mysterious private library which is Bigger on the Inside. It is run by Gloria, who explains to her that each book is an accurate, up-to-date account of the life of a living person. That night, Ellie is annoyed by all of the noise made by her obnoxious neighbor Doug Kelleher and his new live-in girlfriend Carla Hollencamp. At the library the next day, she rewrites Doug's life story so that he is a kind-hearted and extremely dedicated priest. However, she feels guilty because Carla is so miserable at being alone so she uses the opportunity to fix her up with the building's wealthy landlord Edwin DeWitt. When she returns home, Carla is happy and wearing an expensive fur coat but Edwin is bankrupt from lavishing her with so many presents. Ellie rewrites Edwin's life story so that he is financially stable but she finds that her younger sister Lori is leading a strike against the inflated rent that he charges. The next day, she gives herself and Lori a nice house by the ocean. However, as soon as she arrives at her new home, Ellie learns that Lori drowned after rescuing a little boy from the sea. Devastated, Ellie admits to Gloria what she has been doing and pleads for her help. After chastising her for not realizing that people's lives are interconnected, Gloria shoos her out of the library. She immediately finds Lori alive and well and returned to her original self.
  • The Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "Tale of the Dream Machine".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess episode "The Quill Is Mightier...".
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert thinks he can do this with Wikipedia, creating "Wikiality." Fans immediately created, where Colbert's word really is law.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who: In "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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the genre of the book in respect to what she could change so she couldn't write them out. So, while causing a flat tire or dropping a piano nearly on a character is possible, changing things so the bad guys don't have guns or they all die suddenly cannot be done.
  • 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.
  • 666 Park Avenue: Annie, a journalist with dreams of making it big, makes a deal with Gavin to become a success. This manifests as gaining the ability to make whatever she writes come true. Unfortunately, this leads to the assassin she created killing her.
  • In an episode of Freddy's Nightmares, "Heartbreak Hotel", a tabloid writer realizes his stories now become true, so he writes a story to make himself rich, but the ambiguous grammar makes it go wrong.
  • In one episode of Kirby Buckets, Kirby finds a magic pen that makes his drawings come to life. Turns out it may just be coincidence, and there are tons of pens like it.
  • The Arrowverse:
    • Legends of Tomorrow establishes a difference between altering the timeline and rewriting reality itself. The first case has rules and consequences, while the second has none. Thus far, only one object is known to be able to do the latter - the Spear of Destiny, which is why Rip and three of the JSA members split it and hid it across space and time. The Legion manages to get the Spear and uses it to remake reality to suit their own desires: Thawne is now the head of S.T.A.R. Labs, having trapped the Black Flash, Darhk is the Mayor of Star City with magical powers, Merlyn has brought his family back to life and forced Nyssa to live a miserable, closeted life in the middle of nowhere, Snart and Mick rule Central City and can steal without consequences, and all the heroes (e.g. Barry, Oliver, John, Felicity) are dead. The Legends (minus Mick) have new lives either relegated into nothingness (Ray, Nate), working for Thawne (Jax, Stein), or working for Darhk (Sara, Amaya). There are only two known ways of destroying the Spear: throw it into an extremely-powerful reactor or use the blood of Christ. However, Sara finds a way to neutralize it a different way: by using the Spear to depower itself. The Spear then disintegrates along with Thawne, when the Black Flash erases him from existence.
    • Elseworlds, the 2018 Crisis Crossover, has the Book of Destiny, which allows the user to make any changes to reality they can will into existence. While still experimenting with it, Dr. John Deegan tries to make himself the Flash, but instead somehow causes Barry and Oliver to switch lives. Later, once he has a better idea of what he's doing, he turns himself into a version of Superman who operates as the Knight Templar leader of a law enforcement agency. Meanwhile, he also turns Barry and Oliver into wanted criminals and locks Kara away in the Pipeline. Later still, once the real Superman has managed to steal the book and use it to partially revert reality to normal, Deegan has a Villainous Breakdown and, upon retrieving it, starts randomly changing things in such a way that it seems to be building up to a Reality-Breaking Paradox. In the end, Oliver manages to destroy the book, hitting the Reset Button on all the changes and leaving Deegan heavily deformed as a result of the power backlash.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Kamen Rider Woz has a tablet that can change future events. It's limited in scope, as he can only change the immediate future, rather than anything long-term. And the future he creates has to have a chance of actually happening to begin with, so he can't create certain Transformation Trinkets unless there's a chance a corresponding Rider exists. However, once something is written in, it's fated to happen, and no amount of Time Master power can alter it.

  • Used for comic purposes in The Goon Show episode "Six Charlies in Search of an Author".

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Advanced Dungeons & 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.
  • 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).
    • 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.
  • In Nobilis, the player characters are Physical Gods. Mortal NPCs often have enormous magical, supertech, and quasi-miraculous powers - and remain completely unable to challenge them, except extremely indirectly. What is the one class of mortals these Sovereigns of Creation must be cautious of? Botanists. It turns out the Angels used a language of flowers to define reality. Clever botanists can write their own addenda.
  • In the TSR Marvel Super Heroes module The Revenge of Kang, the title villain (or at least one iteration of him) plans to travel to a parallel dimension where the Marvel Universe only exists in comic books, rewrite the ending of Time and Space #3 (the comic where the character's adventures take place) so he wins, and use Science! to cause his home reality to synchronize with the "comics only" one, thereby making him victorious by fiat.

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake:
    • The action 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.
    • Parodied in this Awkward Zombie strip, where Alan tries writing, "And then the sun came up, and Alan found where his wife went, and everything went back to normal." It doesn't work.
    • This is an implied power of Alan Wake's Fake Band Old Gods of Asgard, as their songs always presciently advise the hero on how to defeat the Eldritch Abomination with note-perfect timing. Their "The Poet and the Muse," goes into detail about how their contemporary, Thomas Zane, invoked these powers to resurrect his Muse, Barbara Jagger, but an ancient Eldritch Abomination Exploited this to possess her. The implied source of their power? Moonshine made with water from the aforementioned magic lake.
  • The Node from Another Sight is a mysterious glowing purple rock capable of bringing imagined things into reality. However, nobody knows exactly how it works, and it's all but stated to be incredibly risky to use; the main conflict of the story is that the people who know about it want to keep it out of the hands of the people who would just exploit it, and Kit happens to be caught in the middle.
  • In the puzzle game Baba Is You, the rules of each level are tangible objects that can be pushed around, allowing you to do such things as change the appearance of objects, evade hazards, or change which object serves as the Level Goal.
  • Time, Gentlemen, Please! has a similar puzzle, in which a time-rip-within-a-time-rip allows the protagonists to enter a half-programmed adventure game and assist its protagonist. This allows them to get a telekinetic crystal's data, which they then program in to a different text adventure so they can deactivate a trap.
  • Control: It's mentioned that artists rewriting reality through their work is one of the most common types of Altered World Events, to the point that paranatural criminals have tried to take advantage of it before. The game in fact takes place in the same universe as Alan Wake, and it's implied that Alan wrote the entire Bureau into existence in order to create a hero to save him from his prison. This is why the Hiss has such a strong similarity to the Dark Presence; Alan was borrowing from his own experiences. Plus, what better way to train your hero than to give her an enemy very similar to the one you created her to fight?
  • Hack 'N' Slash actually features this as an ability obtainable by the player, along with some other characters, and it's for real, with all the power and freedom such an ability should give you. This is because this in-game ability gives you the freedom to rewrite what really does make up the game's universe—that is, the compiled Lua bytecode of the game and its engine. You can do this to solve puzzles, bypass obstacles, or just mess around. You can give yourself insane amounts of health, walk on water and bottomless pits, and even make characters look like other characters, to simply scratch the surface.
  • Trevor Pearlharbor from Killer7 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.
  • 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.
  • Makai Kingdom:
    • The Sacred Tome 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. 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.
  • Myst:
    • The series centers around a civilization called the D'ni, practitioners of what they called "the Art." With the proper implements and language, it is possible to write a Descriptive Book for an entire world, or Age, which can then be visited through a Linking Book. This is a precise and delicate process, however, and if you cannot describe a world in extreme detail, no link will work. It's also possible to create a link to a world that cannot maintain itself, or an Age that appears stable and how you described it, for a brief moment before it falls to pieces. It is possible to change and reshape an Age, but these must be small enough that the world in question can actually change in that way - trying to create too drastic a change, too quickly, will result in the original link to the Age closing, and the Descriptive Book instead linking to a different world entirely. Oh, and do remember to bring a Linking Book to the Age you started from when you explore your new world. Wouldn't want to get trapped in a self-inflicted Prison Age, would you?
    • Though badly-written Ages may collapse due to their own contradictions, such as the Age of Riven, assembled from text copied haphazardly from other Ages by Gehn, it's possible to create stable worlds that operate on a different kind of reality. Catherine has a tendency to write highly improbable worlds such as Torus, a donut-shaped world with a highly unusual water cycle, and Serenia, which has a form of mysticism that Atrus has trouble believing is true. Even Atrus, scientifically-minded as he is, is occasionally able to make some very odd worlds, such as Spire, a livable world suspended above, and very close to, a sun.
    • The Art canonically works like a version of Many Worlds Theory, which the D'ni referred to as the Great Tree of Possibilities. Descriptive Books effectively act as search engines that find a world that matches the Age that was written in them, rather than creating worlds from nothing. Of course, villainous characters such as Atrus' father, Gehn, let the power of the Art go to their head, wrote Ages with native populations, and set themselves up as gods.
  • 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.
  • In Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the leader of Labyrinthia, the Storyteller, seems to be able to rewrite reality; on a regular basis he passes out stories to the townsfolk detailing what will happen to them in the future, and the predictions always come true. This is because the predictions are written in ink made from a substance that produces a hypnotic gas, influencing the people to make the predictions true.
  • 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.
    • In Super Scribblenauts, they added a few more nouns they forgot to put in the first game and added adjectives. Now you can summon "happy playful Cthulhu".
  • 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)...
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • Featherine from Umineko: When They Cry uses this to great effect, at one point stopping time and hacking into the story's script itself to defeat an opponent. Not wanting to bother with a fight scene, she starts at the end of the battle, writes about the opponent's brutal death, and decides to care about the how later. The results are...interesting.
    She couldn't comprehend the 'something' that Featherine had killed her with. However, that was only natural. After all, Featherine herself hadn't decided what the 'something' was. However, Lambdadelta did understand one thing. She was already dead.
  • Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club! can do this by rewriting the code of the game, though she's not very good at it and ends up making the game a little glitchy. She makes Sayori kill herself then deletes her when she fails to drive the MC toward her, changes attributes of Natsuki and Yuri making the latter a yandere and interrupting their dialogue or changing it, and eventually just deleting them as well when she couldn't get the MC toward her again and rewriting everything so that the game is just the player and her in the classroom so she can have him.

  • 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, making them lose their Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory and erase their original selves entirely.
  • Homestuck gives this power to John in an odd, Cosmic Retgone way.
  • The bulk of guardian-witch powers in Whither.
  • The Narrator in Tales of the Skull King tends to do this every so often, ether to simply things or to prevent the world at large from blindly following the title character simply because he can talk to the Narrator.

    Web Original 
  • 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 Mad Scientist Wars: Andrew Tinker's most powerful skill, as his knowledge of Literature due to having a doctorate in English allows him to re-write reality around him. He can do it by writing on just about anything, although he prefers to use an old Notebook of his. There are even implications he may eventually be able to do this without writing. While he's very aware of the consequences and tries not to rely on it too much, so far 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.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-2982 is a cell phone that rewrites reality to reflect whatever is entered into the contact information for the phone — for example, if you write in a person's contact that they have a certain disease, they now have it. The trouble begins when it falls into the hands of a sociopath. At least he doesn't know about the Foundation. For now...
    • SCP-140 is a set of textbooks on the history of an ancient civilization known as the "Daevite Empire", who were apparently the most horrifically evil, brutal, and depraved society in human history. Here's the issue: whenever one of these textbooks is near a source of ink (or indeed, any substance that could be used to mark paper), the histories extend, leading to the Daevite civilization being destroyed later and later in history, and it's been proven that reality itself is altered to fit the textbooks' account. If they are extended enough, the Daevites may retroactively start existing in modern times. And while the Foundation is extremely careful about preventing the books from being expanded, there is at least one copy out there not in their possession...

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: The Awesome Store sells a lot of items that can do this, ranging from a Universal Remote Control, a console that transforms the world into a video game, and a notebook that makes whatever you write in it a reality.
  • 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 involved 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.
  • The Fairly OddParents has a neat variation. Timmy once wished to travel into books to make a library trip more interesting. He discovers that using his fairies' wands to change the text changes what that text refers to in the story. The conflict starts when Tom Sawyer swindles Cosmo's wand away from him and begins traveling to other books. They have to stop him before he starts altering non-fiction reference books like a textbook on Astrophysics, which would alter their references in reality.
  • The Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Demon World" featured the "Book of Ages", an ancient tome 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 as they please.
    • Shendu possesses Jackie and rewrites it, so that he and all of his fellow Demon Sorcerer siblings were never sealed away. Humans are all slaves to the demons now, magic is outlawed, and modern technology is unheard of. 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's abilities, and Paco doing the same to El Toro; and then continuing to one-up each other until, Uncle puts his foot down and tells them to write about 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.
  • 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.
  • The Ghost Writer in Danny Phantom can do this while he has his keyboard. He is unable to defeat Danny once he whips out an orange, and since Ghost Writer is a poet...note 
  • Futurama:
    • Fry writes the reality at the end of "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid", and thus saves the planet. The Giant Brain trapped Stupid!Leela and Fry in several books. Fry breaks free of the illusion, and tries to attack the Brain. However, he's crushed to death by a bookcase, but it's only an illusion based on a story Fry has quickly written. The Giant Brain then announces that it is leaving Earth "for no raisin [sic]".
    • "Forty Percent Leadbelly": Everything that Bender puts in his song and sings about actually happens. Turns out it's because he's connected to a 3-D printer.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: In the episode "Hercules and the Tapestry of Fate", both Hercules and Hades get the idea to rewrite the titular tapestry, and thus fate itself, for their own gain.
  • In Ninjago, the writers in Cloud Kingdom call themselves the "writers of destiny," and have the ability to influence events in Ninjago just by writing about them. They decide not to interfere anymore, though, when Morro tries rewriting events to work in his favor.

Alternative Title(s): Magic Writing