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Writing Essays, Tips and Recommendations

What To Do and Not To Do with Harry Potter Fiction by AdminQ

When my oldest son, Dominique, came to me in 2001 and asked me to take him to see the Harry Potter movie—I won’t kid you—I had no idea what he was talking about. Harry who? The name rang a bell, and I knew it was a book, but I didn’t know anything else. I thought it best if I bought the first book to read it, so I would know what the movie would cover. I also did this to make sure it would be an okay movie to take him to. Four books and one week later, I was the biggest Harry Potter fan in my house.

With the ownership of MP3Q, I proudly host several Harry Potter fiction sites, and sites for several Harry Potter fans, as well as a few anonymous movie actors. We all share one common interest: we love fan fiction. We love Harry Potter. No matter the 'ship, it’s the fiction that keeps us going—that and the boy wizard who captured our hearts and creative minds.

I have been reading fan fiction since I found and became a full blown H/G shipper. I have read fics that have made me cry, laugh, and some that have left me in a state of awe. That being said, I have also seen some that made me cringe and left me wondering what the author was on. Let me start with this, even if the fic was 100% bad, it takes skill to come up with a story, and courage to post it. Authors place their fragile hearts in our, the readers’, hands each time they post. For this, even if the fiction was bad, I personally have nothing but love and respect for anyone who has ever written and posted to any fan fiction website.

Items That Annoy

One thing that most hardcore canon readers will dislike are original characters, also known as OC’s, in the place of main characters. Original characters are good, if well-developed and thought out. If they are there simply to fill space, or to just allow the author to use themselves or a friend in the story, it is called a Mary Sue. This can kill a story.

OC’s can work out great if there is depth to the story and if the plot is strong. The first rule is to have an idea and a plot, and then pan it out on paper and write it. Character development is a major point. If the OC is the main focus and the canon characters are left in the background, there is no growth, and because of that, most readers will be turned off.

If you use an OC, keep it tame, maybe one or two, and allow them to grow with the story, as all of the other canon characters should be doing as well.

Review Ransoms and Endless Author Notes
When authors write, most do so for two reasons: because they enjoy it and like to give this pleasure to others, and because they want to make a name for themselves. If you are the latter, this is a bad thing. Writing a good chapter and making the reader review, or else there will be no other chapters, will leave most cold. This is a bad way to get reviews. I personally will review if I like the story, or if the author gives notice that it is their first attempt. Making someone review just to boost your ego as an author, or to make a name for yourself is a bad reason to write fiction.

Another area that should be avoided is endless author notes at the beginning or end of a chapter. One or two lines, maybe a notice at the end, is fine. However, making a whole new story at the end of the chapter that is nothing but A/N’s is not good at all. For the most part, these are skipped by many people. One of the biggest issues I have discovered recently, by reading forums and several fiction groups, is A/N’s in the middle of the story. This should be avoided.

Too many or too little details
Authors will spend lots of time looking through the eyes of the person they write about. But be careful not to overkill the story with too many details. On the other hand, it’s even worse to not give enough detail. Make it a happy medium, and give enough to get the point made, but not so much that a whole new story can be written about the description of number four Privet Drive and the weather.

Killing off of major canon characters, because you can.
If in your story, the plot deals with or will lead up to the killing of a major character—even if it’s one of the trio, or another canon character—then that is ok. To just kill one off only because you can, or to attempt to make your cliffhanger all the better, will ruin it over time. Killing one of these characters off is something you have to be ready to deal with as many fic readers will be turned off by this. Dark fiction is one thing, because it deals in death and dark moods. However, without a good plot, this fiction will not do well. If there is death, make it realistic, and make the cause and effect stand out. If this is done, then the plot will involve it from the beginning.

On the fly fiction
When you write, have the ideas down. Know the story, and have most of it finished. Going chapter by chapter is hard. Most stories are never finished because the author never wrote more than one chapter at a time. When this happens, it hurts everyone: the reader, because they might have liked the story, and are left with an unfinished work; the website, because it takes up space; and most of all, it hurts the author, because most are fiction readers, and they know the feeling to get involved with a story only to see it never finished.

Modern themes, and issues
This area is wide-spanned: teen pregnancy, social issues, world events, and Muggle topics. Remember, the world we are talking about here is totally different. The morals and standards were set by JK Rowling, and most readers do not like to see that changed. Some authors can pull this off well, and make it work. Others lose focus, and most times these things cause a story to fall apart.

There is no way little things like Muggle television sets, DVD players, or any sort of Muggle device will work at school. Remember, wizards do not use electricity; they have other ways to do many of the things Muggles do. Why use what you know, when you can use your imagination and make up ways to improve on the Muggle tech?

Cancer, AIDS, and other Muggle illnesses are things that should not come into contact with HP fan fiction. These are real issues, and they are real problems—but honestly, when would the trio face them?

Dances and balls
It is okay to have this in a story. It is okay to use it more than once. But to revolve the whole plot around this is something that is becoming overused. Be it a ball or a simple dance, remember, they have only had one so far in the books. It was a special occasion, and they did not have one for each season.

This leads into another topic of clothes. Descriptions of outfits are good for the story and setting. Going into them like it is a fashion show takes up plot and loses most readers. My advice is to tone it down.

Character pitfalls
Character development is important. Make them your own, and grow them, no matter who it is. Below is a list of common gripes and clichés about fiction characters.
Making him super rich
Making him evil, because it’s his true nature
Making him a twin
Making him super powerful, so much so he is next to god-like. It’s okay to supe him up, but he is not all-knowing and all-powerful

Making her a slut
Making her a goddess, and seductress overnight
Making her depressed all the time with worry over Harry noticing her

Making her an evil witch
Making her a slut
Making her an obsessive-compulsive woman.

Making him stupid
Making him evil or dead
Making him angry at every little thing
Making him suddenly ______ (huge, confident, rich, powerful, genius-level smart)


Try not to go overboard on established characters, making them into something they are not. For example, Abusive Molly.

Magic or not

The books, and 99% of all HP fan fiction is about wizards, and witches. If this is a true statement, why remove the magic? Suddenly losing powers, for the sake of plot development in a weak plot will not work. If they lose powers because of a sacrifice, or a spell to save someone, that is a cause that is believable.

Word flow

Most betas will come in here on this one. American slang or terms will never be uttered by a British wizard. For example: “dude,” “mom,” “biznitch,” and the like. Other unlikely things are the playing of American music and the use of American cars. None of this will be good for a story if your goal is to remain canon.

I will stop the list here. I covered several points, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

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