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Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Boy Who'll Live Forever... in Fan Fiction

Next generation, anyone?


Hello howdy how-d’ya-do!

Remember the Potterchat blog hop/scavenger hunt I’ve been poking y’all to join? There have been marvelous blog posts so far discussing the magic, favorite moments, and bad guys in the Harry Potter books, and MORE. If you’d like to join the discussions, check the list of blogs on this post.

So today it’s MY TURN to dazzle you lovely Potterheads with my deep understanding of the epic series… or at least I hope you’ll be amused by my attempts. Enjoy!


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I bet I’m not the only person who can say that she started writing fan fiction before she moved onto original fiction. At least I know of one, and that’s fellow Potterhead and writer extraordinaire, Jami Gold.

But fan fiction gave me so much more than a start. It expanded my writing horizons exponentially. I tried my hands at every PoV and every tense, not to mention adding my own characters to the mix (termed OC’s = original characters), and writing in most genres: romance, horror, mystery, etc. And the best part about it was getting to know the other authors, helping one another to learn, and getting feedback for our efforts.

I read once that Rowling was asked if she wanted to ban Harry Potter fans from writing fan fiction. Bless her soul, she decided that people should be given the opportunity to freely engage with their favorite characters. I don’t know exactly how many ‘fanfics’ Rowling has read, but I am certain that she’d feel queasy about a lot of the fans’ bizarre choices. 

Once in the fan fiction world, you see crazy things such as Fred/Dumbledore pairings and Buffy/Potter crossover stories. You might also notice that Hermione has a thing for older men. But there are also very profound and amazing stories that could take your breath away and satiate the hunger for all things Harry. Not to mention the large amount of stories about the Marauders who only get mentioned in the series and in the brief prologue written by Rowling.

You cannot imagine how HUGE the world of HPFF is, or you already suspect it if you read last week’s fan fiction expose in Time magazine. All kinds of crazy fanfics were published –not every day- every MINUTE. That’s right. You’d get hundreds new stories in an hour at prime times. Of course that was five years ago. For the purposes of this post, I went over to the fanfic mothership – Harry Potter Fan Fiction.com – which was oddly omitted from the Times article. With over 70,000 stories, 250,000 chapters, and almost 2 million reviews TODAY, this site has always been the most popular of them all.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that not only are people still writing and posting them, but I couldn’t even count the number of fanfics per day! Wow. Just… wow.

And when the seventh book was out, the genre ‘next generation’ immediately gave the fans yet more characters to play with. This is a classic case of a man not wanting to let go of the perfect dream. In the books, Dumbledore explained that if you spend too much time in front of the Mirror of Erised, you’d waste your life and lose your sanity. I am not saying that fan fiction authors lost sight of their lives, but the fact that this kind of fan fiction is still alive and kicking might mean that people just cannot let it go.

It’s all about closure, isn’t it? Some of us got it when they read the final sentence of book 7, “All was well.” Others waited until the final movie was released last Friday. Yet others are still holding on, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My own closure echoed the way the mania had started: with fan fiction.

I remember the exact moment it happened. It was one year after I’d read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was home for Christmas and I wanted to enter the world of magic one last time, so I picked up the book and read it again. I hadn’t realized that in my rush to finish it the first time, I had missed some vital elements of story that came alive the second time around. Just then I realized how brilliant Harry’s story was all over again.

I explained why the final book meant so much to me in my review of the final movie, so I won’t say it again here (or you’ll think I’m nearly-headless, wink). What’s important is that immediately after I finished reading it, I wanted more. That’s right. I hadn’t written fan fiction for more than a year, but I wanted more again. So I didn’t get any sleep that night. Instead, I wrote a short story (one-shot) where those who died in book 7 got to say goodbye to their lives and go into the light.

Remus and Tonks reunited and smiled upon their baby. Ariana greeted Albus and forgave him for his weaknesses. Snape was young again and greeted by young Lily. Fred heard his brother’s words and left his blessing. And finally, Voldemort got what he deserved: eternal torture in between life and death. Writhing, begging for mercy, unheard and forgotten in limbo.

This story was the perfect metaphor for my own passage. I put the story up at my author page at HPFF (Yes, that’s realy me.) and I never looked back. I saw the movies as they got released and kept the magic alive, but I never went back to fan fiction because it was time to move on. To my own stories.

But this doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy occasionally go back to this wondrous time of my life. It doesn’t mean that I’m not awaiting Pottermore as anxiously as everybody else. What is more, it’s my greatest wish that my children will know the world of Harry Potter as well, and it seems like they will. I can only imagine how many kids –and don’t forget adults- start reading the series every hour of every day. Can you? Boy, I’d like to know those numbers.

Rowling said it herself. “Whether you come back by page or on screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” I’ll take the liberty to add my own words to that effect:

Whether you come back to witness or shape Harry’s journey on page, Jo will always be there to inspire and guide you on your magical journey.

Thank you, Jo, for the lessons you taught us and for the amazing stories you shared with us. But mostly, I thank you for keeping the magic alive and letting us incorporate it in our own ways in our own lives. I grew up with Harry and many others did. So the magic wasn’t solely on the page. The real magic happened in our hearts.

Humbly, I thank you for all you have given us.


(source: agirlcalledkill)


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Post-script: Don’t forget to collect all EIGHT answers for the scavenger hunt to have a chance at winning our awesome prizes. For more details, go here.

Thank you for reading and playing! If you feel up for it, feel free to join our heated #potterchat debates of all things Harry Potter on twitter today at 9 pm (eastern).

Last but not least, don’t forget to spread the Potter love!

14 comments:

Ava Jae said...

I never really got into writing fan fiction, but I certainly talked about it with my friends.

Unrelated to the fan fiction bit, but I really love that "thank you" picture. I've seen so many tweets/posts about thanking J.K. Rowling for such a memorable experience and she truly deserves every one. What she accomplished, what she created is absolutely inspirational.

I've also never seen a response to an author quite like that before. Have you?

SP Sipal said...

Ava, I love that "thank you" picture too. It brought a tear to my eye.

And Lyn, I have to go read your fanfiction now! I'm so glad to know someone who was into that world as I try to cover it in my workshop. While I've read fan fiction, especially written by people I know, I never wrote it myself.

I know so many people, though, who can tell a story like yours -- how they learned the craft, got immediate, enthusiastic feedback, and are better writers now for having started off in someone else's playground. It requires quite a discipline on its own, does it not?

And I love the fact the JKR was so open with it, though I'm sure she cringed at some of those pairings. She even gave one of her first Harry Potter fansite awards to a fan fiction site, I think.

Great post! :-)

PW.Creighton said...

I was never one for writing fan fiction but I've seen the influence of such masterful works and I can see how someone would want to expand that world in their own vision, their own perspective. It's not too much of a leap from crafting your own characters and story in a built world to taking those creations into a world that you build. Great insight.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Ava I love it too. I'm a big fat crier now too. Might as well let it spill until the well's empty, lol.

I haven't either but... I think that's because most influential authors never got acknowledged during their lifetime and she's one of the few who ever did. Besides, I think she can be credited for children reading again so that's a major reason for being thankful. ^_^

@Susan You bet. It's a whole journey within itself. You have to stay true to the characters, no matter what genre you are writing, AND we don't know some of them that well, so it's even harder to know if we're off canon or not..

I wanted to say so much more in this post, because there's tons, but I didn't want to bore people. :P And if you have any questions, you know where to find me. And yes, the site was Mugglenet.com. It's full of fantastic articles as well. It's always been very popular.

Omg, you shouldn't read my stories, lol. They're so old and rusty and... though the last one I liked. The one I mentioned in the post. My closure story. *happy sigh*

@PWCreighton Exactly. And I think it's one of her greatest gifts to us because we got to experience Harry in our own worlds. Ah, I am beyond grateful for that. ^_^

Jen said...

I know a few other writers who started in fanfiction and I think it's a brilliant place to begin. You already have some amazing characters and world.

I personally never dabbled in fanfic becasue I didn't feel like I could do the story justice. I still don't.

Anyway, great post. That really got me thinking :)

Kiki Hamilton said...

I have never read Fan Fiction - Harry Potter or otherwise. Hmm.....not sure if I want to know about all the odd pairings....

But I second your heartfelt thanks to JKR. For me and my daughter, who became a voracious reader thanks to Harry Potter. (She was one of those 9 year olds reading 600 page books.) Harry Potter is a gift that we can all cherish at any age.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Jen I think you should have more confidence in your skills. I think you'd have written amazing fanfics. ;)

@Kiki Ha. I guess I didn't say it right, did I? Let's try again. Imagine you have a favorite pairing (ship), whether it's canon or not (not in the books), you can read THOUSANDS of stories, good stories about it. AND you get to imagine how some of those missed moments in the books turned out, or make it up yourself.

Anyway, it's an amazing place to be, the fanfiction world. I'll stop here because I've presumably moved on, lol.

It is a gift for any age, well said Kiki. And thank you both for sharing your thoughts! ^_^

SP Sipal said...

Actually Lyn, it wasn't Mugglenet I was referring to regarding JKR's fansite award. I'm very familiar with Mugglenet and knew they had won, but I couldn't remember the name of the first recipient. So I looked it up.

She gave the very first award to Immeritus, a fansite dedicated to Sirius Black, that also hosts fanfiction. I think that was saying a lot!

Lyn Midnight said...

Interesting! I have been out of touch with fanfiction lately so I didn't know that one. I'll have to check it out, it sounds interesting. And by the way, Sirius is quite the celebrity in fan fiction. lol

Elaine Lowe said...

I got my start writing Harry Potter fanfiction back around Book 5. I loved it, lived it, and wrote copiously. Still have them up on ff.net and smile whenever I get a new review. The community encouraged me to send my original stuff off to a publisher, and now 17 romance novels later, I still love and adore the HP community. You are all love.
Elaine Lowe

Lisa Gail Green said...

Yay!!!!! I watched Magic Beyond Words and the claim at the end was that every 30 seconds someone starts reading a HP book. That blew me away and made me smile.

Jami Gold said...

Great post!

Even though my first completed novel was fan fiction, I was never into the fanfic community, so this was all new information for me too. I think it says so much about her that she didn't argue and discourage those writers (like many other big name franchises have done). She's just really about encouraging others to pursue their dreams, and I love that. I hope to emulate that aspect of her, actually. :)

P.S. Thanks for calling me "extraordinaire". Hee.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Elaine Wow, I have to check those out! And your story is an inspiration in itself! Thanks for stopping by and sharing it! *hugs*

@Lisa Omgee, I have not watched it.. maybe I should! And I definitely think that the number may be correct. ^_^

@Jami Aww, this is an excellent wish. You know, lots of people would say that they want to be great storytellers and rich and famous... and you'd like to inspire people to pursue their dreams. I'm like that as well. It's a wonderful dream indeed. <3

katherine said...

I am so glad you are enchanted by Harry's world as I am. These books are my favorite books, hands down. Rowling gives us the gift of Harry's world, but also gives us the gift of Harry's situation - that he must face head-on something that will not go away. Procrastination and avoidance can take us away from a habit of addressing things. But, Harry's situation requires action. His dilemma has been really good for me - to remember that showing up and facing something head-on is sometimes the only way to successfully deal with it. She has also been an inspiration from a writing standpoint - basically, that the dictionary of my mind is the limit. Thank you for writing about your personal enchantment, and sharing it!