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Is Voldemort a rock around the fandom’s neck?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Glimmervoid, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    Slightly provocative title, so let me start off by saying Voldemort is a very important part of Harry Potter canon and has an important place in many kinds of fanfiction. However because he is so important in canon and in so much of fanfiction, fanfic writers feel the need to include him in their stories. There are some exceptions, of course. Post-canon stories for example. But for the rest, there’s a pretty strong implication that he’ll be there and, if he’s not important from the word go, he’ll become important before too long. A writer that sets out to write them 7-year AU likely plans to include Voldemort for example.

    This occurred to me when ScottPress posted this:

    My question is: is including Voldemort in your AU always a good idea?

    Does the need to include Voldemort close off many types of stories that could otherwise be told? Voldemort forces a shape on stories. His mere presence forces stories to escalate in a similar way to canon, as his rise casts a dread over the wizarding world.

    What kind of stories can we tell if Voldemort really did die when defeated by Harry as a baby.
     
  2. Silirt

    Silirt Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    It's kind of like that old pasta, Voldemort was the only force of change in the wizarding world. He makes things interesting, and everything that happens ultimately relates back to him. To exclude him from the story requires another compelling bad guy, so it can be done, but if you write an entirely new bad guy for a universe that revolved around the bad guy, and an entirely new plot, you might as well write an original book. I suspect that's what happened to a lot of writers who set about coming up with such a story.
    In the hopes of having a different and hopefully more interesting conflict in my AU, I've added a third side, or what's effectively a third side. The hope is that the reader won't be able to predict exactly how the good guys will speedrun the quest.
     
  3. Comnenus

    Comnenus DA Member

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    It's an interesting thought. I can imagine an interesting political AU where a savvy politician cements themselves as quasi dictator in a shattered magical Britain after the death of Voldemort.

    DLP loves Dumbledore but you could really throw him into this discussion as well. The existence of one kind of necessitates the other. With them acting as counterweights to each other and the only real threats to each other you kind of have to keep them both around.

    With Dumbledore still around you cut the legs out from under any potential antagonist who isn't a Voldemort level threat.
     
  4. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I completely agree, there aren't enough AU fics around where the focus is on a threat other than Voldemort. Whether its a dictatorial Minister that capitalised on the devastation Voldemort left behind and manipulated people's desire to feel safe to gain power, or a different Dark Lord entirely. Maybe one with a different set of goals. A radical muggleborn who wants to bring about the merging of the 2 worlds? Or foreign Dark Lord, seeking to take Britain as an expansion for either their already existing Empire or they have run from a nation which defeated them and have come to Britain seeing it as a weak choice after Voldemorts death? That option could let you explore a bit of the international scene, could be quite interesting.

    @Comnenus is right though, as long as Dumbledore is around you're going to face problems establishing anyone as a threat. So either you'd have to neuter him somehow, or get rid of him.

    Could be interesting to take it in the line of "Shortly after the fall of Voldemort a death eater targeted Dumbledore in a suicidal attack, blaming him for his lord's demise. Dumbledore survived but was badly injured, and retired to a remote cottage to tend his injuries out of the public eye."

    That gives you access to him as a guide and mentor, but you don't have to deal with him defeating your threat before Harry has to face up to it.
     
  5. JoJo23

    JoJo23 Auror

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    I somewhat agree. Voldemort is realistically too great of a threat for a schoolboy to take care of.

    How about this; kill off Dumbledore and dont resurrect Voldemort. Instead Harry faces off against another Horcrux Ginnymort style. Or multiple horcruxes, each with their own limited knowledge, agendas, and powers. The diadem horcrux has the ability to increase "wisdom", whatever that means, the ring has the Stone of Resurrection. Either of these attached to a suspicious DADA teacher would be a formidable threat.
     
  6. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    Voldemort is a rock, but he's also one you can easily toss away. It's just that removing/killing Voldemort early on sends a lot of butterflies which many writers don't want to deal with. Voldemort is such a good villain for Harry because Voldemort has come into his life and wrecked house over and over again. It's personal. Harry even houses a part of Voldemort's soul. Coming up with another villain that can match that is hard. Which is why, in most of fics which ditch Voldemort... the mantle of villain is taken up by Dumbledore, who's been stealing galleons from the Potter fortune this whole time.
     
  7. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    You could make Lucius Malfoy into the main villain of the story pretty easily. He has the makings of a criminal mastermind while also being a ruthless killer that makes him a threat personally as well as through others, there's plenty of potential reasons for Harry to have personal beef with him, and he is the only one who actually managed to force Dumbledore out of Hogwarts.

    With Lucius as the main villain you'd have more ways to end the story than with Voldemort. With Voldemort there's only really one way for the story to reach a satisfying end, and that's with Voldemort dying. With Malfoy the options are more varied. You could still have an epic fight between him and Harry, you could have some kind of political ending to the story, or you could even go for a redemption arc if you really wanted to.
     
  8. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Malfoy being the main villain could be quite interesting actually, because he'd likely not engage against Harry directly for quite a number of years. He'd send "adequate" or "appropriate" opponents against him, expecting those would be sufficient to bring Harry down. Who those would be may vary, depending on the exact setting of your fic. As a first year re-write, its Draco and Co vs Harry and Friends. As a post-Hogwarts Auror!Harry fic its hired assassins and corrupt Ministry officials. You'd only need directly present, or even reveal, Lucius has a the big bad right at the end.
     
  9. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    What if I told you people are not imaginative enough. Creating an AU where Voldemort never existed is very easy.

    People just don't do it, because rehashing canon is easier.

    My pet peeve is when people create AUs with major changes to history... but still have the main events of the books happen. Like, how lazy and unimaginative you have to be?
     
  10. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    He's a terrible villain, so yes.
     
  11. Lady Emerald

    Lady Emerald Squib

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    Voldemort doesn't need to be in every AU. It would be interesting to read stories with other antagonists. Stories can have other "enemies" like government oppression, bureaucracy, radical movements, or just be a typical school-themed fic with bullies and mean teachers. I really like the idea of Lucius as a political villain.

    Or a pro-Pureblood party can be grasping political power wherever they can (could be in a coup) and openly discriminating against half-bloods and muggle-borns. The party could first try to prevent non-purebloods from attending Hogwarts (similar to DH) and be known for their pro-pureblood propaganda that slowly brainwashes society.

    Maybe in a post-Voldemort, the Order of the Phoenix gets "corrupted" and deviates from their main goals and ideas.

    I don't mind Voldemort in complete AUs if the writer comes up with something original to defeat him. It would be really boring to destroy the same Horcruxes in the same way with the same characters.
     
  12. Othalan

    Othalan Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    Reminds me of a fic I outlined a few years back:
    Dumbledore and Grindelwald's duel in 1945 ended with both wizards dead. Without Dumbledore's opposition, Riddle never went full dark lord. Instead angling for political power as the leader of the conservative faction of the Wizengamot, he has consolidated his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts and the ministry's puppet-master (a sort of sinister mirror-image of Dumbledore's canonical influence).

    Harry grows up watching his family suffer for the increasingly blood-supremacist policies of the ministry. James is passed over for promotion time and time again due to his "blood-traitor" status, while Lily is reduced to little more than a bitter housewife - closer to Petunia in personality than the saintly figure most fanfics portray - since her blood-status bars her from any meaningful career or place in wizarding society. As the story goes on, a much more political Harry becomes something of a (anti-)Villain Protagonist: an extremist and budding "Dark Lord" that believes the only way to break the hold of blood-supremacist ideology on the wizarding world is to burn the Statute of Secrecy to the ground and re-integrate magical and muggle society.

    His personal ideology would be a sort of laissez-faire version of Grindelwald's: There's no need to conquer the muggles. Simple integration would almost inevitably lead even the lowliest of wizards to lives of wealth and power within the newly unified society. For example, even an eleven-year-old witch or wizard who has only taken a single Hogwarts Charms lesson could make a small fortune using the levitation charm to move stuff around on construction sites, eliminating the need for tons of expensive heavy machinery. That's an incredibly valuable talent, and it's the least of what a true wizard could do. Imagine the insane amounts of money high-end warders and enchanters could make with billions of potential customers driving demand, rather than the thousands they have under the Statute. Imagine the wonders that could be accomplished with magic and technology working together.

    Anyway, I never got very detailed with the plot, but essentially Harry and co. go from activists and political agitators to a full-blown international wizarding insurrection battling the ICW and its Segregationist lackeys, embodied by the internationally-respected Headmaster Riddle.

    As to the main point, yes Voldemort is often a crutch that frees fanfic writers from having to put real work into framing the main conflict of the story. That's not to say that including him is a bad thing; a good writer can make even the seemingly stale Voldemort arc compelling and fresh. But he does tend to be one of the main excuses a lot of mediocre authors use to simply rehash canon rather than doing something interesting.

    I think in most cases, the question of whether or not you should include Voldemort comes down to just what kind of story you're trying to tell. Are you looking for a fluffy character piece exploring the bond of friendship between Neville and his Tentacula? Then Voldemort's probably a bit superfluous to that story. Are you trying to tell a taut, psychological thriller about the effect of war - and the stress of his role as a double agent - on Snape's mental state? Well, unless you want to tell a completely original story that just happens to use Rowling's characters, then giving Voldemort a fairly important part within that story is probably a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  13. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    That sounds like it would have been a genuinely fantastic fic to read, but a complete bugger to write.
     
  14. Othalan

    Othalan Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, that's a pattern with me. I'm always coming up with story concepts that are waaaay beyond my meager writing talents/skills. Kind of doomed to forever be an "idea guy."
     
  15. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Depends on the kind of story you want to write, I think.

    I can't imagine PotDK where Voldemort was replaced with someone else. Voldemort in that story is only partly human and Voldemort fills that role perfectly.

    Otoh, like I said in the quote in the OP, a story like Taure's Victoria Potter isn't making any use of Voldemort and he might not be needed in it at all, but ofc I don't know Taure's plan for the story down the line.

    My overall point is that not every story needs Voldemort. Then again, he is a hugely recognizable and important part of canon (regardless of him being a poorly written villain) and removing the series' main villain from your HP fic would be like writing a Third Age LotR fanfic and never mentioning Sauron once. Do it if you have no use for him, but if you're gonna need a major villain at some point, then inventing your own or slotting another canon character into what seems like Voldemort's place when you haven't previously mentioned him makes it seem like an asspull with zero setup.

    Outline your story--know if you're gonna need Voldemort or not.
     
  16. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    Welcome to the club.
     
  17. Othalan

    Othalan Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    I suppose Voldemort is also a handy measuring stick for a lot of authors to show the progression of their version of Harry. His level of power and skill - and his motivations - are something of a known quantity, as is the ridiculous degree to which canon-Harry is outclassed against him (never standing a snowball's chance in hell, and only winning in the end by obscure magical technicality). If an author wants a convenient way of measuring how different Harry is in their story versus canon, all they have to do is compare/contrast him with Voldemort and most of their readers will easily grasp what they're getting at pretty quickly.
     
  18. Methos

    Methos High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    Same can be said about Hogwarts and Dumbledore to a lessen degree.
    Voldemort situation can be handled by flattening the power Pyramid while adding other factions into the mix.

    Fandom treats most wizards and witches as incompetent fools, despite canon evidences (Umbridge for example).

    It comes down to the author and him capable to imagine a more complex Wizardry world, with various more factions and and each have their own motives and goals.

    You ran into the other problem, your Hero is a teenager stuck 9-10 months of the year in a castle up there in Scotland.
    Which is the true rock around the neck of the fandom, they feel compelled to have the story takes during Harry Hogwarts days, when he is less capable of acting on his own agency compare to other adults.


    Any post Hogwarts stories featuring Harry fighting Voldemort?
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  19. Download

    Download Fifth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Had a plot bunny reading this thread:

    Dumbledore discovers a piece of magic that allows you to capture and store the free wandering part of someone's soul after they have made a horcrux. Except being soul magic and feeling there must be some horseshoe opposites allegory here about dark and light magic requiring significant sacrifice, this magic requires someone to willingly sacrifice themselves to perform it.

    So in Harry's first year when Voldemort is possessing Quirrel, Dumbledore decides that he will sacrifice himself to contain Voldemort's soul and prevent him from being able to be resurrected via this route in future.

    So no Voldemort (sort of) and no Dumbledore.
     
  20. TRH

    TRH Seventh Year

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    I'll probably never find the time to actually write it, but I'd envisioned a trilogy story where Voldemort is only active for the first two parts, and only the central focus in part 2, with Lucius Malfoy holding center stage in the first part, while a militarized Ministry, Death Eater remnants, spoiler villains and Harry himself vie for control of the post-war world in part 3.
     
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