WhyPotter? 2: Plausibility

My series of why HP has such a strong Fandom

The Harry Potter novels are more than just random fiction. In the views of many there has always been a logic to the magic: Hogwarts has never been found by muggles because it is “unplottable”, certain spells require certain mental concentration such as the patronous charm and good memories, and the basilisk survived so long because they can live to be thousands of years old. Magic in the harry potter novels is understandable.

This is attractive to us the same way that science is attractive to us, by being a potentially infinite field of study that we can never fully understand: but even more so because it is magic, adventure and danger. When we look at these elements and want to explore them because at heart we all want these things in our lives. As terrible as life at Hogwarts seems, what with all the pending death, we all want to attend. We all want to explore our potential, think we are special and do something great.

Being special or unique is how we see ourselves naturally and when we write we seldom write fiction about an average farmer do we? And if we do it is about extraordinary circumstances that happened to a average farmer! I think for those of us that enjoy Harry Potter, or high fantasy have a certain aversion to being part of an amazing story. So many layers of events affected Harry in his life: we have this amazing story of his birth, then this drama with Sirius being framed and Harry discovering Wormtail and then we have the added complexity of his school environment! So capturing these in our writing is key in creating an epic story, we have to zoom in and out frequently from the large picture to the little one in our writing. All these features make for a realistic story and a grand one. One that feels like there is more than we are being told. Thus bringing me back to my main theme of this series: Why do Harry Potter fans care so much?hagrid__s_hut_by_sw3etlemon-d5kqxq6

I want to touch once more on plausibility. I think what Rowling did with making the muggle world we currently live in compatible with her series is perfect. Theoretically, the Ministry of Magic could exist because of how their magical world interacts with ours: wizards in hiding, dragon sitings being covered up and the muggleborn registry being wiped. And before I get a bunch of complaints about “Time Turners” and Quidditch rules, of course the novels were not perfect, but my point is that it is close enough to be considered. If someone is reading your fantasy novel they WANT to be convinced it is real. They will be willing to look past small chinks in the armour if you give them enough to crouch behind. Give your readers reasonable doubt of their reality and they will love you forever: because that is why they are reading fantasy.  To explore this “Worldbuilding” I advise you explore these sources: start with the Nerdwriter criticism.


In my next segment I want to touch on why we envy Harry but before we do lets discuss why we sympathize with him. Harry has had the worst childhood imaginable. If we experienced any of this boredom or relentlessness in our lives we feel his pain and imagine it being worse. I personally had very supportive parents growing up who went the extra mile for me and I still felt like this AND I felt guilty when observing the contrast of Dudley and how his life compared to Harry’s. Then we see something that could plausibly happen to us. A letter in the mail and just like that Harry is taken from his lackluster life into one of magic, adventure and most importantly uniqueness. We envision this happening to us and we empathize. Alice in Wonderland, Bilbo Baggins, Peter Pan, Men in Black,  The Matrix. My book includes these qualities. I argue that yours should as well.




WhyPotter? 1: The Perfect Plan

incredible-harry-potter-fan-art-in-celebration-of-a-triple-birthday-527526I promise I won’t harp on the MBTI too long.

So J.K. Rowling is arguably confirmed as being an INFJ on the MBTI: my arguement is that this is irrelevant and to create something similar you don’t need to be this type: but you will need to adapt your skills. Let me explain: so the MBTI discusses 8 possible strengths and weaknesses that are assumably “each side of the spectrum” of 4 traits, meaning you can’t use both: I disagree: I believe that one can (and most do) posses all 16 strengths: your test will reveal which you favour on an average basis. Let’s talk about P vs J in terms of a writer. P essentially means improvisation and J means stability and planning. Now to write an amazing story like Harry’s you will have to plan large story arches that intertwine, expand and then tie up in the end as for example the story of how his parents died. This is the strength of a planner, if you are a natural planner this is what you will enjoy HOWEVER those who are more spontaneous or improvosional will find their talents being used in writing as well.

When I imagine the design for a chapter I don’t decide what colour Jim’s hat will be: I might as well write the chapter shouldn’t I? my point here is, word to word you will have to improvise and grow. You will have to find a rhythm and then go through the entire thing and find little symbolism that matches the themes you entrench: you think Rowling started POA with the idea that Snape would teach a class on werewolves? I doubt it, she probably saw it as a perfect opportunity as she developed the plot and was writing. Then she thought “Perfect! Hermione could bring this up later because she would be the type to remember this detail.”

My point has been that anyone who enjoyed the amount of planning that J.K. put in her novels could most definitely do it themselves. It is not for everyone but I think there are a lot of you that would enjoy this process. I don’t think I have found anything more fulfilling than deciding a secret the audience doesn’t know. Which brings me to another topic.

The reveal: decide lots of stuff about your characters. Everything. Then choose what side of them you want to display that is most obvious: the things you would notice if you first met them in real life. Now shed new light. I have barely started this process (and no growth yet either) but I think it is the key to making your characters believable as J.K. Rowling did. Take Hagrid: Hagrid hides (and lacks the ability to) barley anything about his personality. Every time he has a secret the trio force it out of him almost immediately. This is who he is and this brutal honesty of zapping dudley with an umbrella is an accurate portrayal of who he is. I’m not saying that crazy reveals are bad. but would it not take away some of the “honesty” of Hagrid’s character if he would have turned out to be a Death Eater? Surely it would have been a shock and maybe sold some books, but this would be the trademark of a thriller. not an honest and REAL story like Harry Potter.

Rowling does have a plethora of surprises for us but the difference is her surprises ADD UP and we get this thrilling sense of looking back at moody’s behaviour and seeing the dishonesty! We get the feeling immediately that Lupin is hiding something. We look at Snape at the end of the series and the faintest trail of clues and character contradictions leave us with the cascade of feelings that one gets with an epiphany: not a shocker.

In conclusion, anyone can train their story to include clues for the reading to be teased with. In the meantime- I will let this topic simmer in my brain and undoubtedly write a part two with some of those “I Should have said this” moments. Get writing!


MBTI stuff if curious: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test597e2b53ffb7a6b5039ce106c81013c9

writing characters guide: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/hooked-on-a-feeling




Book Update 1: No Turning Back Now


So as you may have noticed I took a blog hiatus in order to tie up some real life projects as well as write! The book and concepts are becoming better shaped in my mind and on paper after this period and I am excited to do more! Here is a brief summary.

  1. What is written: Well the first chapter is completely finished (for now) that is baring any revisions I later make to the story line, but I have been consistently happy with the third draft. The second chapter is finished in its story capacity though I will be shortly going back and doing a second draft to make it a little more reader-friendly and trimming it. The third chapter (a short one) is almost complete in its first draft. I have also completed a short bit of lore I hope to slide in to what I am guessing will be the fifth or sixth chapter. I expect the first (that’s right) novel to be no less than 20 chapters (I have no idea maybe 50…or 15?). All included it currently totals about 15,000 words.
  2. What Is decided: I have maps encompassing much more area than will be covered in the book and over 45 countries/regions that 90% of you might never hear of more than once. I needed to understand the full background and political history of “Alle Orte”. I also have decided a million things about magic, characters and lore. I will probably tease this as it gets finalized.
  3. What it is about: There is magic but the book is not about magic. the book is about complex individuals, true evil, war, love and most importantly how the decisions we make represent who we are as people. I want it to seem authentic so I have put effort into the backdrop, but the most important things will be right in front of you: The people. (and in some cases ogres)

Please ask questions: I don’t know where to start!


The Harry Potter Fandom: Why is it Alive and Well?

traditional-art-1-1aemoarMy New Series: I want to write about something that the fandom rarely discusses: not headcannons or detail hunting but rather the need for these things: Why does Harry Potter stand out in a world of fiction as having the most emotional and dedicated fans? And how can we as readers (and authors) replace this “food-source” in ways other than tweeting at J.K. Rowling?

The Harry Potter Fanbase is massive, current and powerful: to the extent of having studies done on them to measure things like diversity tolerance: to the extent of creating hundreds of headcannons: and to the degree that we greatly affect actors that played a part in the movies YEARS after the last lines were spoken. What I sought to answer was why could I read a book and feel the extent of emotion that i did, and how could I experience that again? Take a look at this graph:


Over the next little bit (I know my track record has not been great but bare with me) I wish to explore these thoughts in a series that I hope will enlighten us in understanding the emotions we feel as well as inspire my fellow readers to become fellow authors. I have a hypothesis: If you are a HP fan: you have the magic inside you needed to create. I will explain my thoughts on this topic as well as how I have transferred it into my writing.

For those of you that are new I originally made this blog to support my novel but have taken a hiatus to write it! (and attend university full time) (and work) (and volunteer on various art projects). Also: not an english major.



art sources: http://blogs.uoregon.edu/hpfieldguide/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/429812358163369327/

A Night with Deadpool (no spoilers discussion)


I had the opportunity to see Deadpool the other night in Imax and it was fantastic I highly recommend if your on the fence about seeing it that you go.

From the opening credits all the way through Deadpool created laughter that filled the theatre. Right away, we can clearly see the time and effort used to put together complex film making and rich content. The first thing I noticed was the epic amount of attention to detail: we can see hidden easter eggs everywhere including funny posters, pamphlets and hello kitty merchandise that is associated with the Deadpool character. In one scene we even see Wade carrying a backpack, and though we just see the strap, it is very clearly a green Cadpat issued pack. This underlines the character’s Canadian military background and I found these small details added authenticity even though it was only seen for about 5 seconds.

The story is very typical for an origin story (in plot) and though many will complain that it lacked in depth, I found it stayed very true to how a comic would have told the story. Not being a comic reader myself I must admit I felt intrigued with this type of story telling and I am actually interested (as a writer) in picking one up this week from my local comic corner to see how closely they resemble each other. Hearing about how Ryan Reynolds himself has extensively read the series, I have no doubt in my mind that I will find I am right.

To say this movie was a riot is expected, but one thing that surprised me was the amount of drama packed into it. Throughout the movie, despite his character, we feel enormous sympathy and in some cases empathy for Wade himself as we see into his relationship, his heartbreak and finally his pain. The studio has done a fantastic job blending the edgy humour and action of deadpool with the heartstring pulling ability of a tragedy.

What truly sets this movie apart, is not the plot or the acting or the cinematography (all of which are stunningly blended): but the absolute richness of Deadpool. Wade is a constant fountain of humour without seeming forced, he floats back and fourth seamlessly from breaking the fourth wall to the plot and simultaneously demonstrates a level of logic that is at once blunt and relatable.

Between the gradual introduction to the character from the online hype and marketing campaign to the flawless execution of the origin story I do not believe I have ever been as fully satisfied with a comic inspired movie. I encourage everyone to look at the interviews with Ryan and understand the struggle he put forward to make this movie possible and to make it right. I applaud his team’s efforts and I hope that this will introduce a new standard for movies in the future. You’re in for a treat.






Story and the StoryTeller


So these past few weeks I have been feverishly working over my story: filling this fantasy world I have created. So a friend, who is a philosophy major and a very read individual, has reviewed my work and told me that my writing style is atrocious. This is expected and my spirits are not dampened at all: We had the opportunity to discuss my world at length and I think he truly believes the story in itself is really good.

So if storytelling and story creating are different and I can do one but not the other I must pursue building my storytelling skills. I have immersed myself in this culture the last few weeks and I have always felt as if I have a knack for story creating. This being said to capitalize on the one I must advance the other. I have fallen in love with the writing community and I am willing to put in the commitment. I have now spoken to people in the creative writing department at my school and there was a number of graduate students who took time out of their days to help me find a few courses that would count as my electives that I could use to further my skills next year: the only problem is that to apply to these creative writing courses you have to be accepted. I’m told it’s rather competitive.

I now have a group of people including a separate writing club to contact to revise my work before I submit my 15 pages of portfolio to get accepted into the program. I have until mid-may but I am petrified. I cannot use entirely my novel so I will be including some poems: hopefully that I will post here! This means that this blog is about to see some more content! I look forward to hearing any feedback I may receive from you guys.

A final word, I have picked up Stephen King’s book “On Writing” and I am about halfway through it since yesterday despite 8 hours of class time yesterday. I feel this alone is greatly improving my writing skills in a very short time frame: I am going to re-write my entire chapter once I finish. I highly recommend the book.



Travel and Writing


This weekend I had the opportunity to travel a little with some friends and it offered a refreshing look at directions I could take my writing. Many of us often travel by plane or car very far distances and it allows a phenomenon to occur that tricks out minds into not accepting the distance traveled. We pack into a box for an hour and emerge in a land that would have taken months to arrive to by more traditional means. When we emerge our senses take on an entirely new surroundings, and we become hyper aware of the differences and wonder of our new environment. We need to give this feeling of euphoric emerson to our readers as we paint the picture of settings, jump to a new character’s perspective and feed them the skeleton of the environment in a way that reflects the mood.

The actual how of this is most likely told better by a more practiced author than myself but I realized this weekend that this wanderlust is an important part of fiction. The characters having cultures and lore of the land are elements that we find in real travel to be interesting. History buffs and world building are immediately linked, this is the element of fiction that some criticize books like LOTR for. Just as we thirst for knowledge and history in the crevices of a new city we need to feel similar as we enter stories of far off lands.
I picked up a hiking magazine and read it on my first connecting flight home and truly enjoyed it: the photos remind me of the possibilities of reality and by extension: fiction. I hope to travel more in the future and I feel I will grow every time and I thought perhaps my fellow writers could use a reminder to appreciate the act of writing through experience as well as imagination. The two need to work in concert and compliment each other to add real furniture to your writing.