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Writer’s reference for Harry Potter

by Melissa Ingoldsby about a year ago in book review · updated 8 months ago
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How to challenge your plot, create more depth in an already dynamic world, and character development

Writer’s reference for Harry Potter
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

I remember how in elementary school when I was first introduced and inevitably incredibly engrossed by the Harry Potter series. The saucy, innovative writing got you sucked in from the first page.

The first line of the first book reads: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

I loved it.

This one in particular captivated me. I loved the cover art. I don’t know why the woman in the white headdress particularly struck my interest(the whole thing seemed mysterious and romantic to me).

I still adore those books. The world of Harry Potter has an interesting dynamic, it is split into two parts: the Muggle world and the Magic world. Interspersed between the two is the Ministry of Magic, that oversee all aspects of Magic ongoing within the Muggle world and within their own communities. I love the bureaucracy of that governmental type organization, something that makes my mind feel more at ease in a situation where things (especially in the Magic realm) feel off balance and challenging to keep up with. The schooling system and even the way they house inmates(no bars, no walls, just Dementors), is a highly creative way to build up your universe. It is one of the best fantasy worlds I have ever read.

But, I have a few minor notes on them.

Growing up and getting into Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Rick Moody:

I found that some of things about the Harry Potter universe were slightly off. Things that could’ve changed the dynamics of everything and what I felt could’ve made the plot more interesting, things I felt were unfair, and in general something that was lacking.

Now, as an avid fan of these books, other fans might be looking at me for more clarification—-and also—-like:

But I have three major points to make that may seem like minor things, but as an aspiring writer, I feel like these are actually very important things to look at whenever you create new worlds.

The world of Harry Potter is very biased against anyone in Slytherin house

So, yeah, let’s start this out by clarifying that Harry Potter should’ve been in Slytherin. The Sorting Hat said this on many occasions, and this was the first most important thought process for the choice:

"Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that -- no? Well, if you're sure -- better be GRYFFINDOR!" Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall.

The whole ‘it’s all here in your head,’ part is what gets me. I know that by Harry choosing to be in Gryffindor, it gives him an edge and more independence, but what if he had been in Slytherin? I believe it would’ve opened up so many different possibilities, new relationships that Harry would’ve never have had because he was so set on Griffindor house, and the opportunity that Slytherin house could be redeemed by the harsh way it was seen by the school and their culture.

The strangest part to me of how the houses were set apart was that besides Slytherin, everyone in the other three houses seemed to get along and even work together but when it came to anyone in Slytherin—-they weren’t ever a part of that comradely.

The facts are this- not one single person from Slytherin was in Dumbledore’s Army and in the whole seven years of being at Hogwarts Harry never made one friend from Slytherin. The ones that are ‘good’, like Severus Snape, had their reputation marred with controversy even after the facts of his true actions are revealed—all because he was a Slytherin and once a spy for Voldemort(really a double agent for Dumbledore for the most part) but mainly, it is assumed that anyone from Slytherin are rude and mean toward everyone and also hate Muggles.

So, opening up the prospects of one, having Harry and his Gryffindor friends talking to and socializing with at least one or more Slytherin, two, showing that multiple people in Slytherin are nice and normal just like everyone else in the school, and three, illustrating that by having Harry be put in Slytherin he could bridge that social gap (having friends from all houses) and would nullify any unfair criticisms and biased against them as a house. It would strengthen his character, too, showing that cunning and ambition were not inherently evil, and his actions against the real evil would be easier to distinguish. This would show everyone that heroes can come from Slytherin, and you don’t have to stay in such a cliquey mindset—avoiding people just because they are cunning or ambitious, or like the color green! Harry could’ve been the spokesman for that house, truly incorporating the good things from his house and showing how it can benefit not only their school, but all of Wizardkind.

Here’s a great list of bookmarked lines from the series that talked against Slytherin:

And also this line directly from JK Rowling: "Not all Slytherins think they're racially superior," she tweeted. "But all those who do are Slytherins."

That doesn’t help anyone’s case! There’s no way no one from any other house isn’t racist or unfair in the way they see people and things.

But, this last moment of father/son dialogue does open up a good discussion of how Harry has changed his own bias toward Slytherin, giving me hope for the new generation of Wizards:

Albus Severus Potter:

Dad, what if I am put in Slytherin?

Harry Potter:

Albus Severus Potter, you were named after two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I've ever known.

Albus Severus Potter:

But just say that I am.

Harry Potter:

Then Slytherin House will have gained a wonderful, young wizard. But, listen, if it really means that much to you, you can choose Gryffindor. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.

Albus Severus Potter:


Harry Potter:

Really. [Train whistle blows] Ready?

Albus Severus Potter:

[Last line] Ready.

If you want a recap here are my bullet points!

  • Try to avoid creating all of your villains and negative characters with specific personality traits or physical appearances in a clearly separate group from everyone else. People are people, anyone can be mean and still a good person, and giving a large group of people the signifiers of evil is a lousy trope that doesn’t allow too much growth for people in that category.
  • Give your character challenges to overcome, and don’t let them just settle with something easy and comfortable. It’ll show their true strength of character to develop friendships and relationships with people they perceive as negative, excoriating their judgment and bias as something insipid and not fair. That understanding can also extend to others, giving it deeper meaning to the world in general.
  • Try to make your character stand up for unity and equality, for all people, not just the popular ones or the groups of people who are obviously targets of mistreatment (elf kind).

That’s all I got, folks.😓 hope y’all liked this article!

Anyway, happy reading and happy writing!!

-Melissa ❤️

book review

About the author

Melissa Ingoldsby

I write short stories and poetry. I hope you find yourself in between the spaces of my words.

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