Disclaimer: Don't own it.  Don't claim to.  Don't plan to.  Don't sue.  Also, I have no idea why I'm writing this, and am not really too sure why you're reading it, either.  I mean, if you're reading this, then what?  Did I actually post it, or is someone sneaking around in my folder?  Are you really reading this?!

How to Write a Harry Potter Fanfic  (And How Not To!)

By the following experts:

Elly (Who's never written a Harry Potter Fanfic before so that must make her the leading authority, huh?)


The Gundam Wing Fan (Who's never even read one of the books.)

            Ahem.  Hello, hello.  I suppose we've established in the disclaimer that you are in fact reading this, so I can assume someone's actually paying attention to this lecture?  Or are you the type that skips over the disclaimers because they're all the same?  Seriously, you should always read things very carefully, you never know when there might be a quiz, or exam!

            By the way, my name's Hermione Granger, and I'm here today to give you some tips and tricks for writing Harry Potter fanfiction.  Oh, it wasn't my idea!  I wanted to study my Transfiguration lesson, but Elly's being so pushy!  Apparently, she hasn't the faintest idea where to begin, and since she got writer's block right at the end of her Lord of the Rings fic, she figured it'd be best to let someone a little more… attentive… carry on the writing work.

            Anyway, let's get straight to it then?  There are a dozen books in the library I'm putting off for this, so I want to get it over with.

Lesson 1: The Plot (Or Not)

Hermione:  All right.  If you're seriously interested in writing Harry Potter fanfiction, then you've probably read some, if not all of the books, right?  Perhaps, if you were properly taking notes, and cross-referencing facts, you'll have noticed that the plots are fairly complex, and hard to predict.  It would be a daunting task if I asked you to emulate J.K. Rowlings' style exactly since you're just beginning, so I'll save that for a final exam.  For now, we'll just focus on having a plot, all right?  Elly and the GWFan are guilty of writing pointless fics, but I am not abandoning my Charms homework just to watch them turn out another one of… those!

            There is really an abundance of possible plot ideas that would be acceptable for a fanfic.  Although many of you might argue that this is a relaxed, informal style of writing, you'd better keep on your toes, because there'll be a test!  Where was I?  Ah yes, it's not really too hard to find a good plot.  Let me pick something that I can use as an example… ah.  Let's send the fifth year students on a fieldtrip to muggle inhabited London.  Simple enough.

            Now I suppose the trick is to make the story interesting.  Let's start by making some charts, and organizing out plot notes… I think a thousand-word summary is a good start to get a feel for what kind of direction-

            Ron:  What do you think you're doing!?

            Hermione:  Huh?  What are you doing here?  Elly asked me to give a little introduction to writing Harry Potter fics properly.

            Ron:  Little?  You call a thousand-word summary little?

            Hermione:  I call it the difference between quality and… well… one of Elly and The Gundam Wing Fan's fics.  What do you know, anyway?  Now just be quiet so I can finish!

            Ahem… once you've got your charts and everything worked out, then you're ready to go on to the next step!  Now you need to write a scene-by-scene diagram of your character developments, clues, red herrings, and-

            Ron:  Do they ever get to do any actual writing?

            Hermione:  I'm getting there!  Stop interrupting!  Anyway, once you've got all your outlines figured out, you can start doing some tasteful editing to weed out unnecessary scenes, characters, side stories-

            Ron:  Or, you could just pick up your quill and start writing the story.

            Hermione:  They're muggles, Ron, they're using pencils and computers.

            Ron:  All the same, they could start writing now, couldn't they?

            Hermione:  No.  There are still three more steps before the actual words-to-parchment process!

            Ron:  Forget that!  You're getting as long winded as Professor Binns!  My suggestion is to just start… toping?  Is it toping?

            Hermione:  It's called typing.  Haven't you been paying any attention in Muggle Studies?  I'm supposed to be teaching this lesson, so would you please go away now?

            Ron:  No!  I have good ideas for writing this fic, too!

            Hermione:  (sighs)  Fine.  Go ahead and give the budding writers out there an example of what not to do.

            Ron:  Fine!  Here we go, then:

            Once upon a time…

            Hermione:  Once upon a time?  Are you serious?

            Ron:  What's wrong with that?

            Hermione:  It's just so… unoriginal!

            Ron:  Well, what do you suggest?

            Hermione:  Anything else!  How about:

            Hundreds of unassuming pedestrians passed by it each day, without guessing what its true use was.  They were typically too involved in the shopping opportunities that district of London offered.  Even if the residents happened to hear it being called a portkey, they wouldn't have thought anything of it, and would have doubtlessly forgot all about it by the end of the day.

            Ron:  What in the bloody hell does that have to do with Harry?

            Hermione:  I'm setting my story up properly!  Or did you forget that I intended to send the Hogwarts students to London for a fieldtrip?

            Ron:  Then why don't you just say:

            Dumbledore informed the students one morning during breakfast, that they would be taking a fieldtrip to London, since he thought learning about muggles was a valuable experience for any witch or wizard.

            Hermione:  Well, you could, but where's the artistic flair?  You would totally get low marks with that kind of lazy writing!

            Ron:  (miffed)  It's not lazy; it's to the point.

            Hermione:  Well, I like mine.  But since my next scene was going to be at Hogwarts anyway, I'll pick up where you left off:

            The class tables broke into excited chatter, some highly approving of the trip, and others unimpressed with the idea.

            Sitting cheerfully at the Gryffindor table were two fifth years: Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.  They looked at each other.

            "Is this really a good idea?" Hermione put her fork down.  "What with the rise of You-Know-Who and everything?  Isn't Hogwarts the safest place for us to stay?"

            Harry didn't look as worried.  "We can't just hide, you know.  Besides, it could be a lot of fun!"

            "You're probably right." Hermione agreed.  "But I have a bad feeling."

            "Don't worry!  We'll stick together in London, alright?"

            Ron:  What is this?  Where am I?

            Hermione:  What do you mean?  You're standing right next to me.

            Ron:  No, I mean where am I in the story?  Why am I not sitting with you and Harry?

            Hermione:  (blush)  Oh.

            Ron:  Well, that was a pretty lame beginning anyway.  What this story needs is to start off with a bang:

            "Yeah, you should stick real close to Granger, Potter!" Malfoy taunted from the Slytherin table.  "She should know every dirty gutter in London, what with her breeding!"

            "Oh yeah!?" Ron Weasley leapt to his feet, brandishing his wand and called out, "Plodari!"

            Malfoy's breakfast instantly exploded, spattering bacon grease all over his face.

            "Ha ha!" Ron was triumphant.

            Hermione:  The teachers would never let you do that!

            Ron:  Maybe not, but this is just a fanfic.  And that was pretty cool, wasn't it?

            Hermione:  It's not realistic!  You're putting all my notes to waste if you're just going to improvise with stuff like that.

            Ron:  (grumbling)  No appreciation.  Go ahead then, you do it.

            Hermione: So anyway:

            "As all the students are well aware," Dumbledore's eyes shone brightly.  "It is one of the primary responsibilities of any wizard or witch to conceal their magic from non-magical persons.  I hope to see you all on your best behavior while on the fieldtrip."

            "Still," Hermione persisted quietly, so only Harry and Ron (who as a matter of fact was sitting with them) could hear.  "It's such short notice for a fieldtrip.  And all of the students are going?  Doesn't it seem odd to you guys?"

            "What's the big deal?" Ron shrugged her concern off, his mouth stuffed with eggs.

            She glared.  "It seems to me that they're trying to evacuate Hogwarts for some reason.  Anyway, I'm off to the library… and don't talk with your mouth full!"

            "Bye," Ron tried to stuff more egg into his mouth, but to no avail.

            Ron:  Why are you making me be an idiot?  I sound like Harry's cousin!

            Hermione:  I didn't think you sounded any different than usual.

            Ron:  Oh really:

            As she strutted off, Hermione suddenly fell face first onto the floor of the Great Hall… right in front of the Slytherin table.  They all pointed at her and laughed, and Malfoy had somehow managed to step on her crazy, frizzy, rat's nest of hair.

            "Let go!" Hermione yelped as she felt her hair being pulled.

            Ron:  So there.

            Hermione:  (enraged)  You!  I didn't do anything like that to you!

            Ron:  I'm just kidding.  Here, I'll get you out of it:

            "Plodari!" Ron (who was absolutely not stuffing his face, and never has) pointed his wand and cast a quick spell.

            Malfoy's breakfast instantly exploded and bacon grease splattered all over his face... again.  In the confusion, he stepped off of Hermione's perfectly acceptable hair.

            Ron:  Happy?

            Hermione:  No.  This has got to be the most disjointed fic ever written.

            Ron:  I don't see what's wrong with it!  In fact, I kind of like it!

            Hermione:  Only because I am currently face down on the floor in front of the Slytherin's table, even though I wouldn't even walk by there if I were going to the library.

            Ron:  Well, get yourself up then.

            Hermione:  Oh, all ri… who are you?

            The Authoress of Unoriginality:  Hi!  Are you guys writing fanfiction?  I'm an author too, so I thought I might just see what you were writing!

            Ron:  (thinks of the story-Hermione on the floor)  It's kind of personal right now.  Now's not a good ti-

            Unoriginality:  (reads)  Oh, how cute!  I know just what to do next:

            Hermyonee got p fron the flor and looks embarrassed.  She suddenly notived the mes that Ronn has made and feeled a sterange since of pitty.  "Here." She sed considerratly, handing a pocket kechief to Mallfoi timidlee.  "Cleen yeorself up.  I'm is sorry my former freinf Ronn didd that."  It was then that Hermioone relyzed that she were in luv.

            Hermione & Ron:  WHAT!?

            Unoriginality:  What?  Wasn't this going to be a DxHr story?

            Hermione:  Absolutely, not!

            Ron:  Are you crazy?  Hermione and… (thinks) ew!

            Unoriginality:  What pairing is it, then?

            Hermione:  (strikes forehead)  I forgot… it's almost unthinkable for an author to write a Harry Potter story without favoring some pairing these days!

            Ron:  Okay, but still.  Who would pair Malfoy with anybody?  It's just not entertainment!

            Unoriginality:  Just because you don't like it!  (sobs)

            Hermione:  Well, off you go, Unoriginality.  I need to prepare for my next lesson.

            Unoriginality:  (leaves, offended)