Posts Tagged With: harry potter

A Reflection on the Pointless Murder of Beloved Fictional Characters

This post was inspired by Zen Scribbles’s recent post Jack Did Not Have To Die!

Today we will be discussing something near and dear to my heart: when authors kill off beloved characters for no good reason.

Now, obviously authors can do whatever they want. If they want to kill off half their characters, that’s their choice. But what I implore authors to do before they start knocking off characters left and right is to consider the audience they’re writing for, and consider what impact these deaths will have on their readers.

Example #1: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Deaths include, amongst others, Hedwig the Owl, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks.

Why was it a bad idea to kill these characters? Because the entire series thus far had been about good overcoming evil — the idea that, if you’re true to your principles and willingly help others and try to do the right thing, you will succeed. This was a wonderful message to send to children … at least, until they read book 7 and found half their favourite characters dead.

Sirius Black’s death served a purpose — it was to teach Harry caution, to make him think things through before blindly jumping in. Dumbledore’s death forced Harry to man up and get s**t done. But Fred Weasley’s death served no purpose. Lupin and Tonks didn’t even get a death scene. And what purpose could there possibly be in killing off a fluffy owl?

I know that JKR was trying to impress upon us the horrors of war, but I feel that could have been done in a different way. Perhaps maim them, like she did to George and Bill Weasley. George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) can kill off all the characters he wants because that’s the world his story is set in, that’s the genre he’s writing for. But Harry Potter isn’t a gritty political intrigue — it’s about a boy hero facing down true evil and winning. And I believe that senseless deaths have no place in a series like that.

Example #2: Mockingjay (Book 3 of the Hunger Games)

Deaths include, amongst others (SPOILER ALERT), Finnick Odair and Primrose Everdeen.

Now, Finnick’s death I sort of understand, much as I’d rather not — he was deep within a warzone, after all, so death was a very real possibility. But Primrose’s death? Ridiculous. There was no good reason for her to be in Capitol when those bombs went off. She’s a child, for God’s sake. She should have been safely back in District 13 — by all logic, she would have been. And yet, there she was when President Coin’s ridiculous plan to explode everyone happened.

The point of her death, I assume, was to … um … screw up Katniss even more than she was already? I think Peeta’s alarming mental instability and constant attempts to kill Katniss had already screwed her up sufficiently — killing off her sister was just unnecessary.

Now, Suzanne Collins has more of a leg to stand on than JKR, because she had already established that her series involved killing mass amounts of people. But prior to Mockingjay, people had been killed in a context that actually made sense. Primrose being in Capitol during the final wave of attack made no sense. Not to mention that the assorted people back in District 13 who were Katniss’s friends and confidantes would have been looking out for her sister while she was away doing totally pointless things in the Capitol.

Pro Character-Killing Tip: 

You can judge whether or not a character’s death is appropriate by viewing your readers’ reactions.

If they read the death scene in utter shock and scream, “Noooooooooo! [Insert Name of Character Here]! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!!!!!”, then you did well. Congratulations. The death scene you wrote was touching and believable within the context of the story.

If they read the scene with an expression of increasing disbelief, followed by them snapping the book shut and saying, “That was just stupid. Why the hell would the author do that? That made no sense!”, then you might want to consider a rewrite.

Thus endeth the rant. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.

Unrelated images of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

How to write a sequel to a novel with a kick-a** setting

Some background is probably needed to understand the title of this post. Basically, I recently re-discovered the joys of the library, and one of the books I brought home to read over Christmas was Matched by Ally Condie.

Now, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were good, but the reason I really liked it was because the dystopian society in the book was cool. It’s kind of like The Giver meets Brave New World meets … a generic YA novel (because of the obligatory love triangle). Anyway, the society was awesome.

And then I picked up the sequel, Crossed. I was obviously excited to read it, because I enjoyed the first book so much. But I quickly realized one very tragic fact — this book isn’t set in the dystopian society, it’s set in some weird chasm/valley place. And it’s great that the characters are running around and developing their personalities and overcoming adversity and so on, but I liked Matched because of the setting. Without the setting, I’ve lost interest in the characters and in the book.

It’s the same concept as the seventh Harry Potter book. The first six were amazing because it was set at freakin’ Hogwarts. Who hasn’t dreamed of going there, with the moving staircases and paintings, ghosts, Quidditch, etc.? But then book seven comes along, and suddenly we’re wandering around the wilderness for what feels like forever. I get that Harry had to leave Hogwarts due to that pesky little thing called “plot”, but imagine how much more awesome book 7 could have been if he’d stayed at Hogwarts.

Therefore, I present to you my very simple rule for writing a sequel to a book with a kick-a** setting:

Keep the story in the kick-a** setting. If you have to leave the kick-a** setting due to the plot, get back there ASAP.

I guess this rule can be waived if you come up with an even more awesome setting for the characters to go to. But that doesn’t seem to happen very often, so stick to the original rule when at all possible.

That’s all for now. I’ve once again fallen behind on my work and need to spend the day catching up. Adios, mi amigos!

Semi-related image of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Poetry …

I am not a poet. Well, I am. I’m just really bad at it. Or maybe I’m really good at it, but I just think I’m bad because poetry baffles me.

Since all my writing projects are at a standstill due to extreme amounts of writer’s block (and also the beautifully addicting World of Warcraft), I shall share with you today my latest attempt at poetry.

Prepare to be awed.

time is unfolding

and memories fade

clock hands are turning

with each passing day

your words are unlocking

the secrets I keep

your presence is soothing

my mind as I sleep

a comet is streaking

a path through the stars

your kindness is healing

my hidden-most scars

the midnight bell’s tolling

brings out a rare smile

and I nod when you ask

if I’ll stay for awhile

So? Were you awed? If I shook your world to the very foundations of your soul, I apologize. It was not my intention.

Unrelated video of the day: All the Harry Potter Spells Ever

So someone went through all eight Harry Potter movies and compiled all the spells cast into one, 17 minute youtube video. It’s insane. It’s awesome. You probably won’t get more than 3 minutes in, but that’s okay.

Image Source: http://forestina-fotos.deviantart.com/art/The-Key-to-Time-Past-138106165

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

The problem with having an obsessive personality …

I admit it. I have an obsessive personality.

What does this mean? I’m not talking drugs, or alcohol, or gambling. I’m talking being a nerd. In high school, it was Harry Potter fanfiction. I’m not saying it consumed my whole life, but I *loved* me some HP fanfics. I used to print them out and read them on the bus, or stay up waaaaay past my bedtime because I couldn’t stop reading.

Then came university, and World of Warcraft. Free time between classes? Well, I could either do my reading … or play some WoW. Guess who won that battle?

There have been dozens of other obsessions along the way, all of which consumed my life for a period of time, be it a few days or upwards of three years. All of them I now look back on nostalgically … except nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion of all, because it threatens to suck me back into the obsessions of my past.

Right now, it’s Naruto. That would be the ninja anime that has about 6 bazillion episodes, and counting. Despite the fact that the plot moves like molasses, and I can’t stand about half the story arcs, I just can’t seem to stop watching this show. I went through a Naruto phase back in university, and four years later, it has struck me again. In case you were wondering why I haven’t been posting as frequently as usual, Naruto would be why.

Every obsession is different, and has to be treated differently. For most, like my current obsession, I just let them run their course. Naruto has like 500 episodes, and I highly doubt I’ll have the patience to get through all of those. So I probably won’t have to take action against my poor self-control, because my limited attention span should do the trick for me.

Other obsessions are more dangerous. The new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, comes out in September. WoW is an awesome game, and I played it for several years. I devoted many hours and many dollars to that game, and I just know that if I let myself anywhere near the expansion, I won’t be able to stop. The only thing that saved me from the previous expansion is that my computer broke and I literally couldn’t play the game.

I make all this sound worse than it is, obviously. I do have self control. I don’t get so obsessed that I forget to turn off the stove and burn the house down (although I did once set a cupcake on fire in a toaster oven). But I have many things I want to accomplish in my leisure time, and when my obsessive personality latches onto one thing for too long, all my leisure time becomes devoted to it. And for a writer, that’s no good, because it’s kind of hard to write if I’m spending all my time gaming/reading/watching TV.

Does anyone else have this problem? I dare you to tell me the silliest obsession you’ve ever had. No judging here. And if you have tips for overcoming an obsessive personality, please feel free to share! The WoW expansion is on the horizon, and I’ll need every tool available to stop from being sucked back in.

Unrelated pic of the day:

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

Q and A with Voldemort

I got this idea from From Under a Rock‘s post, in which he shares a Character Questionnaire he got from Tumblr. I’m stressed out from cutting down my manuscript (although it’s actually going really well — now at 109k words! Woo!), so I decided to have some fun today.

Thus, without further ado: Q&A with Voldemort

Disclaimer: I don’t own Voldemort. JK Rowling, and possibly Warner Bros, owns everything Harry Potter-related. This is just for fun. Please don’t sue!

Hi, Voldemort, welcome to the blog. How are you feeling today?

Insolent muggle! What am I doing here? How did you break through my defences and transport me here without my knowledge? I will kill you for this!

Chill, V-man. I just want to ask you a few questions. Cool?

My body temperature is irrelevant to the current situation. Ask your questions quickly, that I might all the sooner have Nagini feed on your corpse.

Alrighty. So these questions are taken from the Character Questionnaire mentioned above. Ready?

Surely there can be no worse hell than this.

What would you do if a friend turned on you?

I do not have friends. I have only enemies, and minions.

Right, but if you *had* a friend, and they turned on you, what would you do?

Hmm. First I would have Bellatrix torture them with the Cruciatus curse for a few days, to extract information on why they would dare to betray me. Then I would kill them.

What would you do if your enemy started being nice to you?

I would have Bellatrix torture them with the Cruciatus curse for a few days, to extract information on why they are acting so strangely. Then I would kill them.

I’m starting to sense a pattern here.

Foolish muggle! How dare you attempt to comprehend the full extent of my brilliance!

My bad. Okay: what would you do if you were permanently crippled?

De-cripple myself. I am a Dark Lord of ungodly magical might. Re-attaching limbs to stumps is child’s play.

Fair enough. How about if you became president?

I would exterminate all the muggle and half bloods, and re-make the world in my image. I would devise a spell to give all snakes human-level intelligence, and they would be my lieutenants of evil. Also, Fridays would be made part of the weekend.

If you had a stand-up comedy routine, what would be your opening joke?

Avada Kedavra.

What would you do if music you didn’t like was playing?

I would destroy the source of the music. If the source was a person, I would have Bellatrix torture them with the–

Got it. What would you do if a stranger kissed you?

Avada Kedavra.

You’re a sad, lonely man, aren’t you?

My parents abandoned me in an orphanage as a small child. You do the math.

Isn’t “math” a muggle concept? Don’t you mean “arithmancy”?

Ask the next question, ingrate!

Yeah, yeah. Okay. What would you do if you heard a nearby scream?

Did I directly or indirectly cause the scream to happen?

No.

Then I would ignore it. Unless I recognized it as belonging to one of my Death Eaters, in which case I would investigate the possible intrusion into my evil lair.

That’s unexpectedly thoughtful of you, going to your minion’s aide.

Allow me to clarify: I would destroy the intruder, and then teach my incompetent, screaming Death Eater a lesson by having Bellatrix tor–

I retract my observation. All right. If you saw someone getting mugged–

I would ignore them.

If you found a wallet on the ground?

I would destroy it. Wizards do not carry wallets, thereby making it muggle, and all things muggle must be purged.

I’m pretty sure wizards have wallets. Where would they carry their galleons?

The affairs of lesser beings are none of my concern.

Okay. Here’s one that’s out of the box. If you went to a convention, and found someone dressed up as you, what would you do?

I do not know what a “convention” is. However, if I were to find a look-a-like of myself, I would assume they had taken Polyjuice Potion. I would also be extremely suspicious as to how they had acquired a piece of my genetic material. I would have Bellatrix torture every Death Eater in my employ until the traitor was discovered, and then–

Don’t tell me — have your snake eat them alive?

… Yes. How did you know?

I can read your mind. Moving on. What would you do if a baby in a basket was placed on your doorstep?

Is the baby Harry Potter?

No.

Does it look like it has the potential to become an incredibly powerful dark wizard, if I were to raise the child as my own and teach it everything I know?

Sure.

Then I would kill it. I intend to live forever, and I don’t want a rival to my throne.

Okay, last question. What would you do if a stranger complimented you on your looks?

WHAT ARE YOU IMPLYING?

I didn’t imply any–

YOU DARE TO INSULT MY APPEARANCE? PERHAPS BY MUGGLE STANDARDS, MY “SNAKE NOSE” AND PALE GREY SKIN MIGHT NOT BE CONSIDERED THE HEIGHT OF CURRENT BEAUTY STANDARDS, BUT I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT BELLATRIX PREFERS THE NEW ME, SHE SAID SO HERSELF, AND SHE WOULD NEVER LIE TO ME BECAUSE SHE KNOWS I WOULD KILL HER OTHERWISE!

Well, that sounds like a healthy relationship.

YOU MOCK ME FOR THE LAST TIME! AVADA KED–

BLAM.

W-what? What just happened? Why is there a piece of metal lodged in my chest? Why am I leaking blood? Why do I feel faint?

I’m a muggle. I get to use guns.

… Curses.

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Am I legally allowed to win the One Lovely Blog award 3 times?

Apparently, yes, I am. Thank you so much to Candace Knoebel, Andrew Toynbee, and Bishop the Reviewer for nominating me for the:

Yay! I feel so … awarded. And lovely! And unless parallel dimensions exist, I’ve got the “one” aspect pretty much covered as well. Huzzah!

Right. On to the next part of the award — seven things about myself. Although by this point you probably know more about me than I do …

1) The most delicious thing I have ever eaten was barbecued meat at my soccer team’s victory party about ten years ago. I don’t know what the meat was (possibly pork?), or what our coach did to make it so delicious (ritual sacrifice?), but I have been dreaming of that unidentified barbecued meat ever since.

2) I wear glasses, and they are a very high prescription. I enjoy giving my glasses to people who have perfect vision, and watching as they try on my glasses, reel backwards in shock, and say, “This is how you see?!!”

3) I am currently watching a Korean Drama entitled “Boys Before Flowers”. It revolves around four hot, rich guys at a private school who meet and (some of whom) fall in love with a common girl who teaches them about life, love, etc. It’s a soap opera in every sense of the phrase, but I enjoy it because it’s a fun insight into Korean culture. Click here to watch a fanmade trailer for it.

4) My current favourite song is Spiderweb by Haley Reinhart.

5) My brother recently fractured his wrist. While waiting for him to get his cast at the hospital, I composed an epic 3-act play for my mother’s birthday, entitled, “Mama’s Magical Madventure”.

6) I mispronounce the word “disciple”. I can say it correctly when talking about the disciples of Jesus (dis-eye-pull), but any other time, I pronounce it “dis-ih-pull”.

7) I am a recovered WoW addict. Now the Mists of Pandaria expansion is coming out, and I can already feel it trying to pull me back in. I must resist!

Okay, nomination time. Tighten your seatbelts!

Amanda Leigh

Antoinette M

Maya Panika

Erin Elizabeth Long

A. Christine

Pigeon Weather Productions

Phew. Awards are a lot of work. Seriously though, check those blogs out, they’re awesome.

And now, for your amusement:

Don’t forget to turn off the annotations. Or leave them on. I’m not the boss of you.

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Some of my favourite Harry Potter fanfictions

Like many writers out there, I got my start in fanfiction. I began with a delightfully terrible Harry Potter fanfic called “The Heir of Gryffindor”, which involved Harry getting horribly abused by the Dursleys and then being rescued by Sirius Black, who for some reason owned a mansion in the English countryside and had a fondness for mint humbugs. Yeah …

Then I progressed to my first real novelling attempt–a massive, 241,317 word fic entitled “Harry Potter and the Dream Come True”. Basically, James Potter comes back to life, hilarity ensues, and Harry finds the family he’s always been dreaming of (hence the title). It started off sweet and heartfelt, but has now become rather bizarre. I also haven’t updated it in about three years–shame on me! I’m sure I’ll get back to it one day.

But my most successful fanfiction by far has been my latest, a Hunger Games fic called “Life Through Sea Green Eyes”. People love it, and a few fans have even started translating it into Chinese. Awesome, right?! There’s a link on my “Fanfiction” page (located on the sidebar) if you’re interested.

On to the main event!

I used to read a lot of HP fanfiction. In fact, I probably spent more time reading HP fanfics in high school than I did playing WoW in university. Anyway, here are three of my favourites, two of which I’ve actually had printed out on Lulu.com so I can have them on my bookshelf forever. If you’re a HP fan and you haven’t read these, I suggest you get cracking!

Semi Charmed Life

Within the Marauder band of Merry Men, Sirius is the dashing Will Scarlet. Seventh year, his goal is to help Robin woo Maid Lily, avoid sermons from Friar Moony, aid a rat in need, and win the love of a fair lady.

This is a funny, romantic Sirius/Rosmerta fic with a little Lily/James and some Lucius-induced drama thrown in on the side. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of Hogsmeade daily life, as well as gratuitous Sirius-on-motorbike-wearing-black-leather scenes. This is one of the fics that I printed out, because I’m just that awesome. Go here to read.

Learning to Breathe

Harry Potter is 16 years old. He already defeated Voldemort, with the help of his Godfather Sirius Black. Now he is in for the biggest challenge of his life: attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This is an AU (alternate universe, for the uninitiated) fic about how things would have gone if Sirius had never gone to Azkaban, and had instead raised Harry as the ultimate warrior. The story actually starts after Harry defeats Voldemort, and revolves around him trying to fit in at Hogwarts when all he’s known is being a soldier. It’s Ginny/Harry, so she plays a big role in helping him acclimatize to civilian life. It gets a little weird at the end, but it’s a really great fic, and has lots of re-read value. Go here to read.

Draco Malfoy the Amazing Bouncing Rat

Draco Malfoy, magically transformed into an evil rat. Who is it who always seems to get the evil rats as pets, and what is poor, poor Draco’s new name? Eventually D/Hr, just now mainly D/coffee…

My favourite HP fanfic of all time. As the plot summary suggests, Draco is turned into a rat and ends up living with Harry and the gang in Gryffindor tower. It’s full of brilliant one-liners, and basically just gives me a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling when I read it. This is the other fic I had printed out.

One problem with this fic is that it has apparently vanished from the internet. Neither the fanfic.net link nor the fictionalley.org link works. However, I did find this horribly-formatted site that has the complete text: click here to read. Expand the first menu and read the chapters as you please. Again, the formatting is squished and weird, so if you are interested in reading this fic (which I highly recommend!), I suggest doing a Google search and seeing what else you can find. Or I guess you could also copy/paste the text into a Word doc and change the paragraph settings so that the line spacing is double, which would make the formatting much easier to read.

Google “Harry Potter Fanfiction”, and here’s what comes up:

Fanfiction ftw!

I’m mostly past my fanfic-reading stage, but reminiscing is fun! What were your favourite fanfics / did you ever read fanfiction? For that matter, did you ever write fanfiction? Was it terrible? Was it awesome? Tell me!

Image cred: http://uthinkido.com/what-people-think-i-do/gallery/animal/otter ; http://www.aki-hoshi.com/thebet/bet.htm

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.