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Is the "pulled from another world" trope cliché or objectionable?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Download, May 17, 2021.

  1. Download

    Download Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I was running some thoughts through my head today for a HP fic. It's the first time I've felt enthusiastic about writing HP in a while, except I don't really have a start point other than the "magic ritual brings future/dimensional traveler Harry to the present" trope such as is found in 0800-Rent-A-Bitch.

    I've already ditched the idea of Dumbledore/the Order doing the ritual because it generally leads to evil or MoB Dumbledore, instead the ritual happens in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries. I also have some actual things that trip up the time traveler and am sticking to powerful but not Voldemort/Dumbledore powerful Harry so no boring "Harry overpowers everyone". But the trope still makes me feel uneasy. So I'm curious if it gets an instant nope from anyone.
     
  2. Silirt

    Silirt Minister of Magic DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I mean I've read it a few times before, but don't abstain from writing something just because I do not have a lot of interest in it.
     
  3. Download

    Download Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I meant as a reader, if the concept is an instant nope.
     
  4. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Order Member

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    It's not an instant nope, but there's certainly a lot of potential pitfalls with it.

    The core issue, I think, is that it is often used as an expedient way of getting a suitable Harry into a nicely AU world in order to pursue some plotline. However, the existence of something like the necessary magic to summon someone across dimensions would tend to have some fairly major ramifications, and you're left with a bit of a catch 22.

    Do you play up the dimension-hop aspect, as you might reasonably expect? This is likely to result in a certain amount of angst and is also liable to turn the person/people who did the summoning into the primary antagonists of the story. It really locks you into a single plot dealing with the new antagonists. Also, because this is pretty much the only plot which can be done with this premise, it's kinda... done.

    On the other hand you can try and skip over the dimension-hop part. The problem here is that it necessarily involves undermining your main character's agency right at the start of the story. They should be pissed about being ripped from their home world to fight a war. The only way to not have the dimension-hop thing be a big deal is to rip some fairly substantial holes in your main character.

    That said, I'm not sure how many better options there are.
     
  5. Download

    Download Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I was going to go with the summoners being reduced to red smears on the wall for playing with magic they shouldn't. So their antagonism is preemptively dealt with.

    As for the angst, with the summoners dead there isn't anyone to really direct it at. It's not like the versions with Dumbledore doing the summoning and then having to work with him. Harry will be pissed, but being pissed won't consume the story.
     
  6. haphnepls

    haphnepls Fourth Year

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    It's not an instant nope because most of the time it really doesn't matter much for the plot. In most cases, you have Harry hopping somewhere, nagging Dumbledore to do a ritual to hop him back, and that's the point where the ritual itself is never mentioned again.

    What matters more, in my opinion, is what Harry's plans are in the new world and does he have any particular agenda. All in all, it's a somewhat lazy plot device to get Harry where you want him with the knowledge you want him to have (as in most cases, the two universes differ).

    And that's the setting I usually like since there must be AU elements because otherwise, the whole hopping is redundant.

    I also like Dumbledore not being the one behind the ritual as it gives Harry kind of a neutral stance, instead of being pushed in medias res of the new world order, which is of course grim and hopeless.

    Soooo, the verdict is - go for it. I'd read it.

    Oh and PS: If you haven't read such a trope recently, I'd advise you to do so, just to avoid the most obvious traps and shortcomings of it, and to figure how to make your own different in its own way.
     
  7. Villanelle

    Villanelle Groundskeeper

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    It's not an instant-nope by any stretch, especially if the summoners are over and dealt with from the get go.

    If it helps any, the only story of the sort I recall reading semi-recently is Echoes in the Fog by BolshevikMuppet99, and I've no idea how the summoning even happened. I only remember enjoying the conflicts between the dimension travelers, and how they dealt with the fuckeries of the new world.

    Sounds like you've got a good plot bunny, and I say chase it lest you lose sight of it completely.

    Alternatively, why not write the same story without the dimension hopping? Sounds like the hop is an afterthought, so might as well just begin the story in an AU where Harry's already there, somewhat powerful, and so and so are different because they are. Appropriate and discard from canon as liberally as you see fit.
     
  8. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    I abide by the idea that pretty much anything can be enjoyable, as long as its well written, so its definitely not an insta-nope for me.

    The key thing I would look for is a coherent reason for why the ritual is done to summon the new Harry, and then for the fact that he's from a different dimension/universe to actually be relevant.

    As an example...That universe's Harry is killed in the graveyard at the end of 4th year, and a few years later Voldemort has near total control of wizarding Britain - a small and plucky group of rebels, one of whom knows the prophecy, decides their only hope is to procure a new Harry Potter, ideally one who can instantly participate in the war. Thats a sensible premise. A less sensible one might be that an Unspeakable is trying to summon an extra-dimensional being as part of their research and accidently summons Harry Potter instead (though this one could work if you continued the string of the research/unspeakables through the fic).

    And on the second part, that it has to be relevant, there's a variety of creative ways him being from another universe could cause him challenges, both small and large. There may be small differences in personality, appearance, name etc that throws him (maybe the twins aren't pranksters, they're really studious, and Percy was the wild misbehaving one, for example). Or there could be wholesale historical differences that really shock him. But the fact he's from another universe needs to be a major part of most plot lines for it to be a good trope to use.
     
  9. wordhammer

    wordhammer Dark Lord DLP Supporter

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    Might be more palatable if the people in the new universe open a portal to Harry and actually negotiate his participation. He does have that 'saving people thing', and if he was given reassurances by someone he usually would trust that they could put him back when done, he might take up the quest.

    Also worth mentioning -- even without going full Mirror-universe on him, just having one particular character behave dramatically differently could be a key plot point. Ex.: Harry asks after Tonks when he doesn't see her among the Order. Everyone is like 'who?'. Turns out she is the dark lord's most sinister and effective agent, and only Harry knowing she should exist saves them.
     
  10. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Dark Lord

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    I'd still read it, even if you didn't put any fresh spin on it. I'd complain about it if you didn't, though.

    There's a few things you'd need to think about, if you're doing a hero summoning, and they sort of need planning out in advance.

    First of all, the summoned hero. Why do they care, what were they ripped from, and do they want to go back?

    Sure, Harry is a self-sacrificing hero, and he wants to get rid of Voldemort. But in an alternate world, without any attachments, does he still care? There's no real links to anyone in this world (presuming Harry is older than Iris, using the 0800 character names), other than fond memories of people who resemble those he meets.

    This then links in with 'where and when did Harry come from'? Is he an old man, transported across from his deathbed? The Head-Auror, in peak fighting form? Just after the Battle of Hogwarts, with fresh wounds? For any of these, not only does Harry have no links to Iris and friends; but also has lost his links to his old world. If he's middle-aged and up, what happened with his wife and kids?

    If Harry does still have ties to his past, then how hard is going to fight to go back? Is he going to be beligerent, and just try to ruin everyone else's life? Or is he going to attempt a speedrun, and make it back before dinner?

    To have minimal conflict between Harry and Dumbledore/OotP, you'd ideally want Harry to want to be there, and to not have anything tying him down. Without thinking too hard, there's an 'easy' time-travel and cross-timeline idea:
    - Voldemort won. Harry spent years running and hiding, before eventually hitting on something that might allow him to go back in time, to another ritual conducted in the MoM. This would probably lead down a 'tough hero makes tough choices' route, or could go with the 'blow everyone off and go have fun'.
    - Harry died, and this is his 'next great adventure'. Whether from dying to Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts, or being taken out by food poisoning due to an underdone piece of chicken; he died, and thinks that his previous life went alright, so he's hoping to make this one work too.


    Second area is the summoner. Why do they only summon once?

    You've mentioned that they're turned into salsa. Great, that's sorted.

    So how is the ritual known, if it kills everyone who does it? Why would they use it? Are they trying to pull someone through who can kill Voldemort; bind a demon for Voldemort; or just doing it for shits and giggles?

    None of this actually needs to be explained in text, of course, but you need to have the info solid for consistency, and to make sure your characters behave.
     
  11. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I once toyed with the idea of that trope, but of course the summoned person is not what summoners expect.

    1) they summon a Harry who had already defeated Voldemort and they get one from Hellworld or one who Lived Long Enough To Become The Villain

    2) summon-Harry is a power hungry dark wizard who instantly takes out Voldemort and takes his place OR summon-Harry arrives and takes out Voldemort but nobody notices except like Death Eaters who aren't gonna talk and the good guys still think Voldemort is wrecking stuff

    3) summon-Harry happens to be one who was trying to dimension-hop because his friend got dimensionally displaced. He just wants to find her/him and get back, not involve himself in local affairs because meddling in alternate realities yada yada

    The point is that the summoning is a plot device that allows you to put certain character archetypes into situations they otherwise wouldn't occupy. You still need to have an idea for a whole story after this.
     
  12. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Chief Warlock

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    You could go a different route and skip the whole thing. Have it be a day/week/month later after he's settled in, but not too far so that he's still legit-pissed about the whole thing.

    By skipping the "Portal or Summoning" first chapter trope, you've eliminated an annoyance that can be dealt with, or not, later in the story. In the end ask yourself if it really matters to have this often-writ, but rarely done well to start your plot.

    Myself? Whenever I see a story I started this way, I often drop right down to the end of the page and move on to the next chapter, because it all turns out the exact same way: Harry pops up in the next world, often with "and then everything went black." Honestly, who cares?
     
  13. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    Isekai type stories are kinda popular right now. Sure, it's been done a lot over the years, but I think there's still room in the HP universe to explore it more and do interesting things with it.
     
  14. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    You know, if you wanted Dumbledore as an antagonist it would be fun to have elder statesman Harry turn up. Then instead of a teenage Harry railing against manipulative! Dumbledore you have a philosophical/intellectual opposition to how to run/win this war. Not one where Harry is always right due to foreknowledge (he might get tripped up due to differences in the world or personal investment in the alt versions of his friends/family.) Then at some point you can have a geriatric BAMF moment where they team up to take apart the opposition with arcane magic.
     
  15. AutumnSouls

    AutumnSouls Squib

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    Yeah, this is what I did in one of my stories. I had the story start weeks/months after the protagonist had been thrown into Middle-earth, so the reality of the situation has settled in a bit but not so much that they consider the world their new home. It let me avoid the shit I didn't care to write about.

    Agreed. I always skip it too. How Harry gets to a different universe is almost always irrelevant.
     
  16. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Chief Warlock

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    And there's the key word to focus on, "irrelevant." Unless it's a major driving force of the story or the answer to something germane later, then ultimately, it really doesn't matter how he got there, or at the very least it's not worth more than a paragraph or two of explanation later in the story. Even then, he could just say, "I don't know how I got here."
     
  17. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Every single example of this trope I have read had the same narrative arc: Harry is initially angry but eventually learns to accept his new world and the people who brought him there (usually, the Order), doing his duty and killing Voldemort for them.

    Just ONCE I'd like a fic where Harry just murders the fuck out of all the people who conspired to abduct him.
     
  18. wordhammer

    wordhammer Dark Lord DLP Supporter

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    I dunno - it seems to me that part of the 'fun' of a dimensional drop story is the struggle to get their balance and figure out where they are, what resources they can draw upon, and to decide on their priorities. I despise the ones where Harry comes through fully-equipped. Like "thankfully, since the goblins had pissed him off, Harry had moved all of his money out of Gringotts to his personal pocket vault, along with all the Black family books and a couple cute muggle girls he kept in there as librarians".
     
  19. AutumnSouls

    AutumnSouls Squib

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    I dunno, that sounds great.
     
  20. Crimson13

    Crimson13 Professor

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    I remember reading one where Dumbledore secretly brought a Harry from an alternate universe because theirs died during the tournament who was the same age as theirs. Only what he didn't know is that this Harry was a middle aged man who killed Voldemort and was tired of the wizarding world. He became a villain and the story was him explaining the why's of it. I can't remember the name, I don't think it's on fanfiction.net anymore.

    Edit: Found it: https://archiveofourown.org/works/1117301
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2021
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