Author has written 3 stories for Harry Potter.
I've been on this site for far too long without contributing anything, so it's time to change that.
I first arrived here due to an online acquaintance who'd written some stuff here as well, and quickly fell down the Harry Potter fan fiction wormhole. I've read some very good stuff, and some very poor stuff on here. I've seen frustratingly brilliant stories grind to a halt, and others which have got better and better. Time to put my money where my mouth is, but first, some thoughts on the Harry Potter books.
NB: These are my opinions only. If you disagree, then I won't be mortally offended.
Philosopher's Stone through to Prisoner of Azkaban were brilliant, Enid Blyton or Jennings style boarding school books, with added magic and mythology. The adults were often Roald Dahl style caricatures, whether they be Fat, Horrible, Uncle Vernon; Arthur - mad, but lovely, and filled with wonder about the world of Harry and the reader; or twinkly eyed all knowing Dumbledore.
This all starts to struggle when the books get darker and more mature. There are too many inconsistencies and holes in both the universe and the plots to sustain the great wizarding war that erupts in Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. Where was the DMLE when students were being petrified left, right and centre? Why had everybody taken stupid pills before the night in the Shrieking Shack where Pettigrew was unmasked? (Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favourite book, but it's like there's some sort of ward that slashes IQs to a tenth of the value in that building). Similarly, the timeline from Harry's vision to Sirius' death makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
I can't help thinking that this is why Rowling stuck Harry in a tent for much of seventh year. Goblet of Fire is good, but this is when Rowling tries to beef up the world enough to support what's coming. It, and Order of the Phoenix, to some extent, are almost like bridging works between the two narratives, but I don't think they do enough to make the world outside Hogwarts capable of supporting the action that's to come.
So, some of the ideas I'm working on may look at injecting a bit more common sense into the narrative, or building the world a bit more around them. Oh, and nothing I write will knowingly take from the films. I saw Philosopher's Stone on release when I was about twelve, and thought it was a stinker. It was a poor film, and a worse adaptation of the books. I have not watched a single one since. If I do include anything that appears to be from the films, it'll have come via this site...
The Butterfly Effect
Too many authors make huge changes in Harry's life pre-Hogwarts, then simply retell the canon stories with an OC tagging along to make a four, or with Harry having some new skill. It shouldn't work like that. If Harry is in a happy, muggle home, then he may well not meet the Weasley's at Kings Cross. Even if he ends up in Gryffindor, he'd have more in common with Dean Thomas - muggle raised, football supporter - than he would with Ron Weasley. If he doesn't meet Ron, and somebody other than Hagrid delivers the letter, then would Harry avoid Slytherin? Possibly. He pins Malfoy as a Dudley type all the way back at Madame Malkins, although partly that's thanks Ferret Features being snotty about Hagrid. Before he's sorted, he reckons they look like a surly lot, but he's had two run ins with Malfoy by that stage. Either way, there has to be some logic. It might be that a Harry who bumps into different people on the train after McGonagall brought his letter might have gone to the dungeons, but he's a better fit for Gryffindor anyway. If Harry grows up with his parents, or Sirius, he'll likely have a good number of friends before going to Hogwarts. If he does, then he won't stick to Ron like glue. Ron is Harry's first friend his own age, and Harry is Ron's. That will help repair a lot of bad feelings at times, on both sides. A Harry with a bigger support network may make different choices at different times. Such things need to be considered. If Harry has a little sister, then she can't drop into the plot when needed, then disappear again. Harry needs to think about how his actions and inactions will affect her. Will keeping his sister out of Dudley’s clutches make him more sneaky, more Slytherin? Or will his determination to keep his sister safe promote his sense of loyalty to those who he cares for, turning him into a badger?
Keeping these sorts of things in mind is hard. Maybe it's one of the reasons I haven't started anything yet. Maybe it's why many stories peter out. Maybe I should stop ranting and actually contribute?
It amazes me how some take the whole 'Ancient and Noble House of Black' line and manage to invent a whole Hierarchy and Squirearchy from it. Especially as the only Lord we see in canon is the Dark Lord Anagram. If you're going to do it, then do it right. Don't have Baron Harry Potter-Black becoming heir of all four founders, Merlin and Arthur plus owner of half the gold in Gringotts. It just ruins the balance of the tale. Sprinter 1988's Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor actually puts in place some ideas for how the wizarding nobility might operate, over and above “Superpowered Harry wins everything!”.
The Wizengamot is another one. It's obviously the highest court in the land, but it's also some sort of parliamentary chamber. An immediate problem is that we never see it operating as the latter, so have little idea how it actually runs. This whole concept may be uncomfortable for those who enjoy separation of powers, but the House of Lords in Westminster was very similar until the UK got its Supreme Court in 2009 (only some of the Lords in the House of Lords were Law Lords, though). There's also the fact that the population of Wizarding Britain is going to be more on the level of a small town than a nation state, so maybe look to Town and Municipal Councils, rather than Parliaments and Senates, for some ideas. One of the best takes on the Wizengamot I've encountered is in the works of Stephen Ratliff. Look him up.
The Order of the Phoenix, whether they're a paramilitary group, or an information gathering agency, achieve next to nothing. They are far too passive, and still fail at pretty much everything. Do they capture a single Death Eater? Do they stop any recruitment? Discover that Thicknesse is under imperious? Protect the prophecy? Apprehend any of those who broke into Hogwarts to assassinate Dumbledore? They're a shambles. Unless you're after a story where Harry goes into business for himself, they need a serious kick up the behind. And as for the ridiculous Battle of the Seven Potters / Battle of Privet Drive: that is literally the worst plan possible. To be honest, I think JKR wrote that one for the cinema screen more than anything else...
Over time, I'm likely to add more to this list, but I'll start with the one who's going to be the focus of my first tale.
Ron - Probably the most hated person in fanfics, especially ones where Harry/Hermione is the main pairing. Why? Because he doesn't grow up! Fair enough. However, these same people will often excuse everybody else their failings. Hermione becomes an utter loon in Book 6? Potions, or Rowling misunderstanding the character. Harry goes emo in Book 5? Somebody else's fault. Even Draco can often be redeemed before Ron. I’ll go no further down that rabbit hole, and save it for a later rant. Why is it Ron's fault that he can't grow up, but everybody else gets a pass? He desperately needs to grow up, but he's not the only one. If you do want to bash him, at least make it funny - see Harry Potter and the Champion's Champion by Driftwood 1965. Some people just torture the poor sod. Whether he’s a stand in for callous ex boyfriends, or schoolyard bullies, I don’t know, but even with a broken leg, Ron was more worried about Harry than he was himself. In front of a guy who was thought to be Voldemort’s right hand man, a guy who would quite happily obliterate a baker’s dozen of innocents in order to wipe out ol’ Pettigrew. Whatever Ron's issues, and I won't deny they are many, he isn't a coward.
Hermione - Watch this space.
Ginny - Well, she can be almost anything you want her to be. She has so little time on the page before they go to the Ministry that you can essentially do anything you want with her. I know the stressful events at the Ministry probably brought all six closer together, but the Chest Monster in Book 6 feels so forced. Had she actually been a bit more of a presence in the three previous books, then she might have been able to develop beyond her red hair, sharp wit and bat-bogey hex. That being said, she’s neither the obsessive Boy-Who-Lived fangirl some paint, nor the ‘bury me in a y-shaped coffin’ tart others use. Unless I’m mistaken, we know of three boyfriends, the last of which is Harry. Hardly enough for even Molly to denounce her as a 'Scarlet Woman'. However, if you're going to go with Harry and Ginny, don't turn her into a prettier, sassier version of Hermione, who's busting out plans and remembering important details just in time to save the day. It's as silly as turning Hermione into a stunning, funny, girl (definitely more so than evil Ginny!) who happens to be scarily intelligent too. While real people aren't that easy to pigeon-hole, trying to conflate the two girls into one perfect girlfriend always feels forced, whichever of them is the recipient of such attention.
Fred and George - Some people love 'em, others can't stand 'em. For those who hate them because they're slackers, or work-shy, Ron says back in Philosophers Stone that they prat about and still get good grades. It is not their fault that Rowling forgot that, or changed her mind, so Molly could tell them off just a few years later for getting less OWLs than Percy's fez managed. For those who criticise them for taking Harry's money, two points: firstly, he insists, and won't take it himself - he wants nothing to do with it, and I can't blame him; secondly, he's reimbursing them after Ludo Bagman robbed and/or defrauded them at the Quidditch World Cup. Maybe they shouldn't have gambled everything they had (likely much less than 1000 galleons), but they won. They'd built up that cash, and were planning on carrying on doing so, in order to open WWW after Hogwarts. It probably would have taken them several years of working as a postal order business before they got premises in Diagon Alley, admittedly, but they were working towards that end. Harry's intervention just allowed them to speed the process up. Some people reckon they're bullies, but I don't think we see enough of their pranks to decide, one way or the other. Somebody on this site once used the fact that they threw a Slytherin (Montague?) into a vanishing cabinet as 'proof' they were bullies. Not buying that one. The school was in a state of undeclared war, and said victim was one of Umbridge's little enforcers. Umbridge being a woman who literally tortured children. If you're going to change my mind about the two of them, you'll need far better ammunition than that. If the twins are bullies though, then Ferret Malfoy knocks the spots off them.
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