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Perfecting the Independent Harry Genre

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    One of the great tragedies of fanfiction is that so many words get written and yet there's so little to read that's actually good. Nowhere is this more true than the independent Harry genre. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of independent Harry fics. And yet... I don't think the idea has ever really been done particular justice. We're still waiting for the genre-defining story.

    So, DLP. Let's say we have decided to write the perfect, genre-defining, indy!Harry fic. Let's brainstorm how we would go about it.

    The key here is I think to identify the elements of this genre that make it appealing and extract those ideas from the bullshit that has accumulated around them.

    Three examples to start us off:

    1. Harry taking his own path

    Obviously, to have an independent Harry, he cannot be entirely in Dumbledore's camp. Nor can he switch over to Voldemort's camp. He must establish his own position.

    The main tropes to avoid here are:

    A. Cartoonish, overly-simplistic Dumbledore characterisation.

    B. Giving Harry a complete character transplant (which includes having him completely abandon all his current friends and adopt an entirely new friendship group).

    How to go about this, then?

    Obviously, a wedge needs to be driven between Harry and Dumbledore. I think there are plenty of ways to do this without completely ruining Dumbledore's character or making him into an absurd villain who is going around arranging for Harry's death, bribing his friends and stealing his money.

    Dumbledore by his own admission has made certain mistakes with Harry. There are also a number of issues they simply do not see eye to eye on, like Snape. And of course you can easily introduce philosophical differences between them.

    The key here is to introduce complications into Harry and Dumbledore's relationship, such that they still must occasionally work together, but are not exactly on the same side.

    On the flip side, some work also has to be done on Voldemort's side of the camp to make his position a bit deeper and more philosophically sound than a racial genocide project. Purebloods need to have some genuine grievances which Harry can develop some sympathy for as he learns more about that side of society.

    With respect to friendships, while it's a staple of the genre that Harry develops new friends from the "high society" side of things, I think it's been a consistent error to have those new friends replace his old friendships, rather than develop alongside them. Harry's dynamic with Ron and Hermione is a rich one which is a waste to throw away. Just see Forging the Sword for inspiration on that front - Harry, Ron and Hermione engaging in an Independent!Harry project in a collaborative manner can be a recipe for awesome. Further, giving Harry two friendship circles is also an opportunity to compare and contrast different ideas and lifestyles, with all sorts of fun tension to be explored between the two circles.

    2. Political elements

    It is of course a core element of the genre that Harry will get involved in wizarding politics.

    In the established corpus, this generally consists of Harry inheriting a bunch of titles and everyone immediately having to do what he says. Not only does this result in a boring lack of conflict, it's basically the complete opposite of what makes politics interesting. Fundamentally, politics is about relationships: building them, maintaining them, and occasionally, when it is in your interest, discarding them.

    So how to fix it?

    Harry will still inherit a title - this is an indy!Harry fic after all, and the idea is to perfect the genre, not to avoid it. There is something fundamentally appealing about watching Harry navigate an aristocratic high society as a budding member of the elite.

    Here's how we save ourselves from the bad tropes:

    A. News of the inheritance is not delivered at Gringotts or by goblins.

    B. Harry only inherits one title, and it will be a relatively minor one - it is enough to entitle him to a seat at the table, but not much more than that.

    C. The title comes with some actually meaningful history behind it which can be used as a vehicle for worldbuilding. As part of that history, it may come with responsibilities as well as privileges.

    D. Most importantly, the title only gives Harry certain legal entitlements, it doesn't result in any actual political power.

    Politically, Harry is still just a kid. Adults are inclined to ignore him, though they have to tolerate his presence due to his legal entitlement to be present in that circle of government/society. But anything he does say tends to be dismissed because he's a young adult.

    Harry will have to build his political power the hard way, like everyone else. He has a step-up by being the Boy Who Lived and having this landed title, but he still has to establish useful relationships.

    3. Money

    It's of course common in indy!Harry fics for Harry to inherit a fortune which varies from "one of the richest wizards in Britain" to "literally the richest person on the planet".

    As with political power, simply gifting Harry ultimate economic power at the start of the story removes conflict and, in most stories, Harry never actually uses this money for anything other than vague allusions to "funding the war effort".

    However, similar to political power, there is a kernel of something genuinely interesting here. Harry being an economic major player can be an interesting door into worldbuilding the broader wizarding world, allowing you to expand on the nature of the wizarding economy and thereby detail how normal wizards live their lives. Coming up with varied professions, goods and services to establish a credible and interesting wizarding economy adds weight to the world.

    Additionally, there is the Bruce Wayne factor: having the hero use wealth to progress their goals can just be good fun for the reader (and if you are going the "noble title" route, then a certain amount of wealth needs to back that up).

    So, how do we fix this story element? Much like we did with political power:

    A. Harry is not going to inherit a huge amount of money. As in canon, the Potters will have a decent pile of gold, enough to make Harry comfortably middle class, but he's not filthy rich. Rather, Harry is going to have to build this wealth himself and earn it.

    B. Tying in with paragraph 2C above, Harry's title will be tied in with land. He won't just be "Lord Potter" (or whatever title you give him)... he will be Lord Potter of [Placename]. The estate which he inherits is in ruins, both physically and financially, and it will be Harry's task to rebuild it - something that will not happen overnight, but which will be an ongoing long term theme of the story.

    C. The story will do enough "wizarding economy" worldbuilding to establish good, credible reasons for why economic power is actually relevant and useful in a wizarding conflict. Readers will understand what money can be used for, and there will be good reasons why those things can't just be obtained through the exercise of magical power alone. This worldbuilding will be more detailed, subtle and realistic than simply passing politicians envelopes stuffed with cash.

    ---------

    So those are my three ideas to start us off. How about you guys?

    Two areas I haven't touched upon so far are:

    - Harry's magical development. How powerful will he be? How powerful will he get? How will he get there?

    - Era. When is the perfect indy!Harry story to take place? Post-OotP is the classic, but I wonder if post-Hogwarts might be an interesting angle - it would eliminate some of the inherent absurdity of political teenagers, would permit more adult themes and tone, and gives the characters greater freedom. It also gives a good reason for Harry to be inheriting things. One idea would be to set it in an AU where the Triwizard (and Voldemort's resurrection) took place in Harry's 7th year, rather than his 4th.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  2. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    I think a lot of the problems are also a matter of time and scope. Like, over what period of time would this ideal indy Harry story be taking place? Almost all of the fixes you propose (which I all find interesting) kinda need to grow over large spans of time. Years and decades even, for Harry to foster relationships, whether they are political, economical or person, same with regards to accumulating economic, political or individual power. A more grounded take on all of that kinda necessitates a timeframe that allows for a gradual and organic growth there.

    On the flipside, the Voldemort conflict kinda kneecaps that approach because by his very nature, Voldemort is a rather in your face kinda villain. He forcefully takes over the government which renders the political aspects moot, same if he is a terrorist. So one kinda needs to change Voldemort to be a more fitting antagonist for this type of Harry. Whether Voldemort is holding himself back somewhere else where it is still unclear for the populous whether or not he is back and has his agents like Lucius act for him or if he never was that terrorist Dark Lord but something else needs to be decided.

    As he is, he doesn't exactly land himself to be the sort of villain who allows Harry to have the years he needs to give justice to the economic, political and personal growth elements of Indy Harry.

    Edit: I think there it would be kinda necessary to nerf the levels of magic there, to make Voldemort and Dumbledore (and Harry) not be one man armies but rather highly skilled individuals who may be able to heavily influence the field of battle but can't solo a team of aurors. Similarly, the ministry wizards and witches need buffs in that they have to matter so that they matter and the political stuff has actual consequences. Winning over factions or people should have some significance and not be there to fill a harem.

    I also think that when doing this it is also important to not give all purebloods to Voldemort since in that framework, if he has literally 90% of the pureblood houses, the richest and most powerful, well he already has basically won, hasn't he and we are coming back to the political aspects not mattering much. Honestly, it feels like it would be best in a post Voldemort world, where maybe the pureblood faction is working on a way to resurrect him in the background or something like that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, with length of time you definitely need at least a few years. If you went post-Hogwarts route, I reckon you could do it in a trilogy covering Harry ages 18 to 21.

    And agreed on the magical power front. A flatter magical hierarchy is necessary for political and economic factors to have any real importance. I think a more political Voldemort is a natural consequence of such a flatter hierarchy.
     
  4. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    On "Harry taking his own path", you take that to mean Harry taking a path in some way between Dumbledore and Voldemort. While that is a perfectly valid position, it's not the only one.

    How about this, Dumbledore doesn't die and the war drags on. Old, experienced and wary of the pain of loss, Dumbledore plays a long slow gain against Voldemort. He is a conservative commander, unwilling to take risks with the lives he wields. Harry is young and always had something of a temper - his righteous fury. So Harry splits off with a younger, more aggressive faction to combat Voldemort.

    That gives us our three factions.

    The Death Easters under Voldemort - seeking to take control of Wizarding Britain. More or less like canon.

    The Order of the Phoenix - a more conservative faction. They seek to maintain something of the Wizarding equivalent of a Fleet in Being centred around Dumbledore. While Dumbledore lives, Voldemort can't just take over the ministry. So the The Order of the Phoenix plays a slow game, centred around maintaining their current power, chipping away at Voldemort's support and stopping him gaining new weapons.

    Then we have Harry's faction - young, hotheaded. They're busting down doors, capturing death eaters, being far more activity. They work with Order of the Phoenix but are clearly fighting the war in their own way.

    It would be important to show neither Dumbledore or Harry was clearly right. While Harry's approach should give some great successes, it should also result in some massive failures that get good people killed.
     
  5. Niez

    Niez First Year

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    Some good ideas, but I think you hit in in the head with that last line in your first post, @Taure. An AU would be an ideal place for the Indy! Harry trope, as doing so within the confines of Canon runs into the various problems you have outlined, particularly that of age. A fifteen-year-old simply cannot be the equal of Voldemort or Dumbledore (magically or otherwise), without making the story feel extremely cartoonish. And the slow-paced alternative, Harry becoming the equal of Voldemort or Dumbledore, runs into the issue discussed above, in that Voldemort has no reason to wait for it to happen. Just have him be a genius-savant, or the reincarnation of Merlin, or perhaps even have him inherit the memories of the Horrocrux in his head...

    In all seriousness though, I think that the Canon storyline simply very much isn't about Harry learning magic and kicking ass, but rather about the importance of love and friendship and ultimately having the courage to self-sacrifice for them. As a result, most Indy! Harry fics continuing 5th or 6th year feel as if someone had written a fifth gospel in which Jesus went to hell to kick Satan's butt, i.e, silly, and vaguely disrespectful to the source material. So my advice would be that if you are going to have an Indy!Harry, make him be one in a different world.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  6. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    This would be the direction to go if you wanted a more military style fic depicting the war in strategic detail, with a focus on combat and magical power. However, I don't think this direction is really compatible with the political or economic story elements... you don't really need money to run a magical guerrilla campaign, and the model of violent revolution means you are overthrowing the political system rather than trying to bend it to your own aims.

    So I think you'd have to ditch the political and rich Harry elements in such a fic, which in turn makes the fic less of an indy!Harry fic in the traditional sense of the genre.

    Indeed, pointlessly clinging on to the political and economic elements of the genre when writing a military style story is perhaps one of the causes of the genre being worse than it could be... lots of perfectly good war fics have been ruined by the political and economic baggage of indy!Harry, which sit uncomfortably with the war genre.
     
  7. Niez

    Niez First Year

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    Also, this reminded of a review I wrote for an Indy! Harry story in which this very thing happened:

    […] Also, money by itself is completely meaningless. Gold in your story should represent the ability to purchase new gear, bribe ministry workers, hire mercenaries, etc. I mean, if Harry has a gazillion coins in his bank and he doesn’t spend any of them to further his goals, then Harry is a moron. Why have him be a moron? Have him be poor instead. Or y’know, not literally the richest man in the whole country.

    I ended up feeling bad for the guy, so I did not post it, but it was a load of my chest at the time (I also edited a bit so it would read better, full disclosure).
     
  8. Heosphoros

    Heosphoros Fourth Year

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    I have some thoughts on this. One is that there is some wider magical restriction on the number of wizards in the British Isles, so the mere existence of Muggleborns and half-bloods means that the chance of squib births is higher. It would help explain why even with their ridiculous evolutionary advantages, as well as the "magic gene" being sort off dominant, the wizards haven't supplanted the muggles in population centuries ago. Though granted, this makes the Weasley's case a bit of an oddity, maybe they were just very lucky in the draw, they did won the lottery once after all.

    The Wizarding World is often portrayed as being heavily institutionally against Muggleborns. I don't think that is the case, you don't go on a masked violent revolt when you pretty much already won. There was a Muggleborn minister a couple of centuries ago, mudblood is a slur that is not said in polite company unless you are an edgy teenager and Hermione can afford much better school supplies than Ron with her worthless paper money. It stands to reason that since then a lot of legislation passed to provide advantages to Muggleborns, reasonable advantages, to balance their lack of magical relations. But I could see many middle-class wizards and lower see these newcomers receive all these things for free while their ancient magical family must work hard for it and feel betrayed. So the rich and powerful Malfoys would be the exception to the Death Eater's roster.

    Politics and Economics:

    Much like Taure's idea that the Malfoy's wealth comes from being large landowners, so would Harry's. Except that said land wasn't being administered for almost two decades and it's fruits weren't just flying into Harry's vaults on their own. The tenants and workers are used to their lack of oversight and, with the aid of some Ministry officials and other families, everyone is lining their pockets. Furthermore, without having the support of the "vassals" who he represents, Harry's title and political power would be mostly empty. So Harry would have to deal with all the people who were swindling him in such way that the land's production isn't stalled and the source of his political power doesn't rebel. As well as all those cunning outsiders who were taking a piece of his pie.

    It's also an opportunity to learn about what the estate produce, the magical and non-magical plants and animals and their place in the Wizarding economy. And if owning so much land is such a source of wealth, what are the structures in place to restrict their acquisition. I could see the Ministry require all land trade that isn't between two wizards go trough them, you wouldn't want a breach in the statute after all. The ministry negotiates with the muggle government, maybe trading some subtle magical favors, and the buyer gives them an ludicrous amount of galleons. It's an excellent source of free revenue and the powerful land owners (who also happen to have a weighty say in lawmaking) get to suppress any new competitor. Win-win. And to tie with an earlier point, maybe the Muggleborns get a discount when purchasing land.
     
  9. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Heir DLP Supporter

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    Does On the Way to Greatness count as an indy Harry story? There's a lotta boxes ticked in the OP
     
  10. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    To me, "politics" are not a staple of Indy!Harry. They're just one of the most common routes such stories take.

    The title and inheritances? Yeah I agree those are standard. But not every story does a lot with them. Some just use it as a way to get Harry emancipated, into his vault/money, etc. then drop it in favor of making Harry personally OP.

    Not saying that's ideal just that I see politics more as a common theme in Indy stories rather than a staple requirement.

    Love this thread. My story idea that I've been not writing for years now incorporate some of these tropes. But at it's heart I want to write a trio!fic where the three of them take their own path more as a team.
     
  11. Sey

    Sey Seyberbully DLP Supporter

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    I read this article a couple hours ago when it was first posted, put it down, contemplated it a bit, and now here I am again. I'll note that I haven't read anyone else's responses as I wanted to get my ideas down first, unadulterated.

    So, I guess this is pretty topical to me because I'm writing my own version of an "Indy!Harry" (IH) presently, though I'll use that term lightly as its more of a byproduct of the fact that its more a stew of the culmination of every half-decent idea I've ever written for Harry Potter. In that sense, it's inspirationally "Indy!Harry."

    Another thing to note, I came into this fandom much later than most other DLPers (both a product of being much younger than the majority of the members, and due to the fact that -- still to this day -- I don't love Harry Potter; hell, I don't even really like it. I started reading it, and still do (for some cursed reason) because I ran out of stories in my original fandoms and I liked the tropiness of FanFiction enough to venture into the largest fandom). As such, all of the "mainstays" of IH were already completed. At first I loved them and devoured them. But like everyone else, my taste evolved and rather quickly at that. Soon this once vindictive genre of stories just fell... flat. I doubt I've read half of the IH "canon."

    Yet, while I find myself agreeing in principle with many of the points raised, they are insufficient to my view.

    Primarily, I think your definition of IH is too stringent. Just noting, I understand that the goal of your post, @Taure is not to deconstruct the definition of IH. However, by structuring it the way you have, I think it will lead to the same inherent issues that most, if not all, IH stories suffer.

    For the sake of clarity, let's surmise IH in a few bullet points taking inspiration from your post. Correct me if I distort any of your ideas.

    1. Harry Potter is an independent centrist who, while working against Voldemort, disagrees with a philosophically flawed Dumbledore.
    2. Harry Potter receives an inheritance of:
    A: Political power (Wizengamot) making him one of the (fifty) most politically powerful entities in Britain.
    B: A sizable sum of money (or anything with associated value).
    3. Harry is of considerable magical talent has potential.

    ONE: Harry Potter is an independent centrist who, while working against Voldemort, disagrees with a philosophically flawed Dumbledore.
    This is truly the defining feature of an IH story. It is, after all, in the name.

    However, I think looking how we got here lends insight to how to fix (and redefine) IH. So the question is: why do authors try to peg Harry as a "centrist?" Why do they try malign Dumbledore's character?

    It's safe to assume that the peanut gallery authors are doing this out of some sort of quest for retribution after Dumbledore's "wronging" of Harry. However, some half-way decent authors still try to add a grey area in the morality (trying to discredit Dumbledore and add legitimacy to Voldemort and co.).

    This is most likely due to the nature of the conflict in Harry Potter. While its nothing so far as The Lord of the Rings which is essentially pure evil versus Man, Elves and Dwarves lead by an angel, the philosophical debate is similarly one-sided. Just as no one would say "you know that Sauron guy has a point," no one says "Voldemort was right." And so, the antagonist could be Voldemort, Sauron or Hitler; it doesn't matter. Voldemort is, by nature, irredeemable, and his rhetoric nearly indefensible (and if it could be defended it never was).

    Now we get to the authors. They see this issue as is: Voldemort is a crazed eugenicist dictator-to-be. Likewise, Dumbledore is this bastion of Wizarding goodness; the only thing holding back Voldemort. And therein lies the problem. How can Harry be unique and independent if one person is irredeemably evil championing a incredibly flawed ideology and the other literally their last hope?

    It's quite simple. He can't. Him being independent and not working with Dumbledore would make him part of the problem.

    So Your Incredibly Original Author (YIOA) fixes this. First, Dumbledore's flaws are enhanced comically. In some cases, new flaws are magically devised. YIOA has to manufacture a reason why Dumbledore can't be trusted.

    Likewise, Voldemort receives a similar makeover as the YIOA tries to make him compelling. However, the issue with Voldemort is his ideology. You can make him as charming and witty as possible, but in the end, he's championing a racist ideology (sidenote: It's not really racism because mud-blood isn't a race, but for the sake of simplicity let's just pretend it is racism. Thanks). His followers are his followers because they believe in blood purity. So how do you give depth to Voldemort? How do you add a grey area to his ideology?

    It's quite simple. Make him right. Make purebloods superior.

    And this a problem because remember: Harry is a centrist. In order to add depth to our narrative, both sides need to have some sort of truth behind them. Inevitably, in many cases, this forces Harry to admit and agree with validity of the Death Eater creed. Yes, purebloods are better. I think we all can agree this a problem.

    [I could write more about the issues of the DE and Voldemort's ideological campaign, but the problems are quite obvious and if YIOA wanted to fix this, they'd need to essentially rewrite his entire creed.]

    Likewise, Harry is always reactionary. Why can't Dumbledore be trusted? Because he wronged Harry. Why doesn't Harry support Voldemort? Because Voldemort is crazy (this one is obvious, but its the same concept). YIOA have Harry react to others, but why can't he take his own initiative?

    This idea leads up to how Harry is defined in the IH genre. He's Not!Dumbledore and Not!Voldemort. His morals and philosophical outlook on life don't matter as long as they conflict with D&V. This is one of the major problems of the genre. Harry does not have his one philosophy. He's defined simply but what he's not, and I feel like that's why so much of IH plot-points feel contrived. His reactionary in nature, and he does not have guiding moral principles other than "the truth is somewhere in the middle."

    Another issue with IH is how YIOA utilizes Dumbledore. In these stories, he tends to be on the forefront much more visible than the novels. Personally, I find this troubling mostly due to how Dumbledore is effective in practice.

    I think Dumbledore is one of the characters who is stronger the less you know them. Just as Solo: A Star Wars Movie seemed to undermine Han Solo, clearly defining Dumbledore ruins his mystique. Why must Harry openly confront Dumbledore? Why must they argue? Personally, some of my worst argument with significant others has been being given "the silent treatment."

    This idea of silence also lends itself to IH Dumbledores projection of their actions and thoughts. Narrative tension is built much of the time with not knowing what a character is planning and thinking. Having Dumbledore scold Harry is an effective way of showing their rift, but so is juxtaposing their reactions to events. For this, Harry and Dumbledore need to have understandable creeds that the readers can understand and predict to some extend.

    This leads into a metaphysical debate of how we define a character in the lens of fan-fiction. Or in other words, when is a character not themselves anymore? I wish I had the answer, or even could give a definite definition of my own, but I can't. For me, there's a spectrum for each character, some have more flexibility than others.

    For instance: Harry Potter must be (1) a Potter, (2) the child of Lily and James, (3) born in 1981. After that, it's fair game.

    Albus Percival ... Dumbledore, however, does not have the same flexibility for me. In order for Dumbledore to be Dumbledore, he must have the same history up to his fight with Grindelwald. After that, you can shape him however you wish, but if major changes are made, they must be explained. If they aren't made, Dumbledore's philosophy and character cannot be much different than in the book.

    When I see so many of these stories with a character that is so obviously not Dumbledore, it fails. What makes Dumbledore Dumbledore is his quirkiness, his might, and most of all, his philosophy. To change this is to destroy the character.

    So for me, Dumbledore cannot be changed. This implicates that major changes must be made on the part of Voldemort (and Wizarding society) and IH. After all, we need this morally grey area.

    This leads into another one of the large issues of IH. YIOA must always have Harry have a point. In most cases, YIOA makes Harry the sole "woke" person.

    But why?

    This stunts his growth. He can't learn or reform his beliefs if he's already perfect morally. This is why you get so many IH of Harry just learning more and more magic. Why? Because if he learns how to become a better person or learns some sort of mistake he harbors, then that admits Harry is not perfect and that Harry might be wrong. YIOA can't have that. After all, the only morally grey area of these narratives is the label attached to Harry, not his own actions or philosophies (which are generally parroted as the only rational thought).

    And now we get to Harry's rationale itself. I can't really deconstruct something that doesn't exist, however, I can point out the glaring flaw.

    Harry's 15 in most of these stories. Kids only really understand stuff starting at like 5 or something. So Harry has had 10 effective years of being a member in society. Yet, 6 of those years were (1) in the Muggle world and (2) largely comprised of him locked in his room. So, Harry's only really been a part of Magical society for 4 years. Combined with his stunted upbringing and the fact that fifteen year olds are just plain fucking stupid, there's no way he is the sole source of philosophical truth in this conflict.

    Dumbledore's 140. Voldemort's like 70. Harry does not have anything new to add. Likewise, anything he does add should probably be wrong and flawed and rife with the ideology of youth.

    The question I've been juggling with is: Must it be Dumbledore Harry is rebelling against?

    Now I recognize the appeal of rebelling against Dumbledore, but as I've already noted, having him being a central character is largely a disservice to a story. It also maligns Dumbledore's own character to serve a narrative, and this, of course, is very rarely if ever substantiated.

    It think IH is more defined by the theme of rebelling against opposing forces. Its teen angst in a way. And though Dumbledore represents the adult the teen is rebelling against, its obvious that it is at the expense of character. Likewise, this also denies works that are thematically similar, but don't feature D&V as primary antagonist.

    Therefore, I think we can thus improve this aspect of IH by incoporating two ideas.
    Lessons:
    1. Harry must have his own flawed philosophy, and this should have clear-cut ways it coincides and conflicts with his rivals.
    2. Dumbledore should be utilized sparingly.
    3. Harry does not have to rebel against D&V specifically, but just deal with the themes of rebellion.

    TWO: Harry Potter receives an inheritance of:
    A: Political power (Wizengamot) making him one of the (fifty) most politically powerful entities in Britain.
    B: A sizable sum of money (or anything with associated value).


    Now, after saying all of that, I don't have as much to say to this one. Again, I feel like this is too restrictive to be used to define a genre. I think the idea is a manifestation not of a desire to give Harry political power or money necessarily but importance. However, again this has a certain problem: why?

    Why are we giving him riches? Why are we giving him political weight?

    I think most of this is because YIOA have this checklist they go through to make their perfect Harry. However, there's no inspiration behind these actions. In short, why is he rich and politically powerful? Because that makes him important.

    Let's address politics. I'm not going to mention how these sorties deligitmasize elected positions like the Minister of Magic or department heads. I'm not going to mention how they have elementary levels of knowledge of politics (especially how slow they are to respond). I'm not even going to go into the awful speeches these politicians give.

    What I am going to discuss is inspiration. This gets back to the previous question. Why are we giving Harry political weight?

    If you're writing an IH story you'd best have a good answer. YIOA doesn't have a good answer. He's doing it because that's what is usually done. However, this is so obvious when written in practice. To write political intrigue you have to have a reason. There must be something interesting you want to tell that ONLY CAN BE TOLD THROUGH POLITICS.

    I'll be completely honest, I'd love to see a story where Harry receives a Wizengamot seat and proceeds to do nothing with it. Have him skip the meetings. Have him believe he has no power and that they'll never listen to a 15 year old kid. Why? Because builds to his character. It's better than seeing another half-assed political arc.

    And now we get to money. YIOA tends to make Harry so wealth that it ruins any stakes and believability. (Side-note: Goblins are always shit.)

    Honestly, I like my Harry rich. Not like Bill Gates wealthy, of course, but I don't mind him being in the Wizarding equivalent of $20-30 million. That's you are very wealthy, but you can't change the tide of a nation.

    But YIOA tends go to the extremes. Most of the time, this is bad. Actually, it's bad all the time. Again, like with politics, if you don't have anything interesting to say, don't bring it up. The Potter's true wealth is unknown in canon. Why? Because it's not important to the story.

    If you don't have anything important to say about the economy don't say it because bringing economical strife into a story requires you to create an economical system that works. Likewise, having Harry have a secret way to get rich is (1) hardly believable (2) seems to rational!fic.

    YIOA tends to make Harry so wealth that it ruins any stakes and believability. (Side-note: Goblins are always shit.)

    Again, I propose we define this in more broad strokes. IH doesn't have to have a political seat or wealth. Those add clutter to the narrative. Instead, find something that you want to explore. Have Harry be in a multi-national world famous criminal organization. Have him be a leading scholar. The idea of this is importance and running with important crowds. After that, its about inspiration.

    3. Harry is of considerable magical talent has potential.

    I have less to say on this topic. In fact, I don't really want to get into it. I'll just say I'm personally against bringing down the legend of certain characters.

    My proposal is a new (very selective) tier beneath D&V&G and above Snape. Have 2-3 of those level wizards be enough to stop D&V.

    Make Harry in this new-tier. It's not realistic for him to be D&V level and it allows him to have the magical might to survive the big guns while being able to maybe win through wit.

    So, where was I going with all of this? I think this inherently rigid structure of defining a IH story is one of the reasons a perfect IH fit will never exist. To make one believable you must juggle so much extraneous BS, while destroying characters all for what? By defining it in broader strokes, you can make a thematically IH story that is attainable.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  12. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    I feel like the manipulative Dumbledore genre has been ruined by a bunch of teenagers angry at their teacher or parents, and using Harry owning Dumbledore as a way of coping. But if we really consider it, wouldn't that be a great twist to a story? Dumbledore's the ultimate bastion of goodness and though there are issues that he and Harry disagree on, he seems to be one of the good guys. Right up until the very, very end. Hints would need to be dropped over the course of the story and subtlety would be key, but it could be one of those huge twisty reveals along the lines of the ending to The Usual Suspects. Otherwise, I kind of agree with the idea of Harry just being the less conservative in the approach to the war effort.

    As for the political angle, it's something I have little stomach for, and so I can't claim to be enthused about all that it entails. However, I have one suggestion for the titles, the money, and all of that. Why not, instead of having Harry given a title and inheritance and thus finding himself in the political limelight, instead have him thrust into due to the war, either in the middle or after it. Even if Harry wins the war (and depending on how that happens in one's fic) there are likely to a lot of unresolved issues. But he'll likely have a lot of support, suddenly, and it'll be earned as opposed to given. The same can be done with the money.

    As has been pointed out, Harry's not on Dumbledore's and Voldemort's level. Experience could narrow that gap a little, but he'll never be as good as them even with equal experience. This obviously an issue that left us with a pretty meh seventh book, in my opinion, and quite the pickle for the author who wants to write Harry Potter actually fighting and beating Voldemort. Honestly, I'd say this means Harry should initialy avoid Voldemort. Focus on his supporters, instead. Wear enough of those down and you'll have enough of an advantage to maybe beat Voldemort through sheer numbers. Harry has buddies who'd die for him. Voldemort pretty much only has Bellatrix who's that loyal.

    Overall, Indy!Harry means breaking away from the overall structure of canon and I think that's good. It leaves room for exploration and worldbuilding. It lets the author play around with different cool ideas (on paper anyway) and to explore new kinds of magic.
     
  13. Arthellion

    Arthellion Alchemist

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    A couple thoughts...

    The best Indy!Harry starting point is no longer post Order of the Phoenix. The best Indy!Harry starting point is after he's killed voldemort. Voldemort is gone. Dumbledore is gone. Who is Harry Potter without this struggle that has defined his life? Without Dumbledore and Voldemort? Canon seems to indicate he did not become all that important. He didn't become the next dumbledore. The wizarding world remained static. Nothing truly changed. If you want to have a truly IndyHarry, change the story after the war is won. You really can't have it sooner without falling into the cliche's of the genre.

    Also, I agree with Cheddar. The perfect Indy Harry must deal with Ron and Hermione in a way we have not seen before.
     
  14. Mishie

    Mishie Fat Dog

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    Honestly I feel like the best time setup for an Indy Harry fic would be something similar to what has been mentioned already, where Voldemort is brought back at the end of Harry's final year, right before he graduates. This means that instead of things going crazy when he has the security of Dumbledore and Hogwarts to fall back on, now he's instead supposed to be making his own way through the world, but he has to also deal with the fact that making a public deal about Voldemort means that his previous plans of becoming an Auror are basically totally fucked.

    As for why he's not with Dumbledore... Well a pretty simple setup could be history from years 4-6, where Harry has been dealing with various adventures each year where Voldemort has had some narrowly thwarted scheme to kidnap Harry for his resurrection, and after years of just having to accept that this would be a thing and that going after Voldemort would fail, that could cause a difference of opinion on how to handle things now that Voldemort is back. Especially if he's still in his angsty and angry phase and is talking about how Dumbledore's philosophies and beliefs are the reason why Voldemort is still a problem.

    So that could set up for a pretty fun scenario, where Harry is forced to go outside his comfort zone to figure out not only a way to take the fight to Voldemort and inspire others to join him, but he's also away from Hogwarts and has to figure out what the fuck he's going to do have enough money to live. Him inheriting a hot mess of a property could work as a way to get things started there.
     
  15. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    A story set post-Hogwarts may also appeal to us all getting older, too, and wanting to read about an older Harry.

    What about a story where Harry thwarts Voldemort's resurrection attempts for the seven school years, perhaps at odds with Dumbeldore on his methods, inherits a title as discussed above on his 17th birthday, and then begins to gain influence and power.

    The break with Dumbledore could be along the lines of Dumbledore suggesting a course of action that would have led to Voldemort being resurrected while Harry was still at Hogwarts. Dumbledore, older and wiser, thought it better to get the show on the road. Harry, young and naive, couldn't fathom a game where Voldemort returns at all and actually stops Dumbledore's plans while preventing Voldemort's resurrection.

    So post-Hogwarts, Harry and Dumbledore at odds, Voldemort less than a ghost in hiding, biding his time after years of failing to be reborn, and now Harry is coming into his own.

    He has full access to his vault.

    He has a title and a ruined estate to fix up.

    He has to be his own man, but the thought of Voldemort is always in the back of his mind.

    Time jumps bring Harry into his thirties/forties, modern day, and he's beginning to realise Dumbledore may have been right about getting the fight over with while they had the chance. At least back then they knew what Voldemort was up to - now he's had decades in the shadows to consolidate and influence, even as a shade, and the Death Eaters are all in positions of power within the MInistry and beyond...

    Voldemort of course returns, perhaps at a time where Harry is under political/influence attack - so Harry's claim that Voldemort is back looks like fearmongering, much like the story Fudge tried to spin in OotP. Perhaps at this point an influential Death Eater has positioned themselves as the Minister for Magic. Lucius Malfoy or someone - Make Wizarding Britain Great Again. But we know who's really pulling those strings.

    The story would explore the important relationships, Hermione and Ron, and perhaps even a few of them have had kids at this point, making their reasons to fight both dangerous and hesitant.

    Eh, it could work.
     
  16. wox2d

    wox2d Fifth Year

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    How do you guys think that the Horcrux in Harry's head be handled in the perfect indy!Harry story?

    I dislike Harry having to become a martyr, I think that is at odds with the ideas indy!Harry is trying to go for and it drives the story towards Canon's ending too much. I also dislike getting rid of it in some easy way (Basilisk blood cleansing or dementor's kiss are two methods I've seen). That feels too easy.

    I supposed I would propose an AU where Harry isn't a Horcrux at all. Yes, Voldemort's soul fragment may have latched on to him, but because Voldemort didn't complete the necessary rituals to prepare Harry, the Vessel, to receive the soul, he doesn't become a Horcrux.

    I would have the influence of the soul fading over time, so that can still square Harry's Parselmouth abilities plus his vision link to Voldemort. It could be sort of thematic--as Harry comes into his own, he loses the link to Voldemort. This is good for him in the sense that he becomes his own person and is able to get out of Tom's influence, but bad in the sense that he loses some advantages. No more talking to snakes and no more insight into what Voldemort is planning.

    Though I maybe this is making things too easy. I'm sure others have better ideas about how to handle the Horcruxes in this type of story. Perhaps you do away with them completely.
     
  17. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Hmm ... I think I would posit that this is not possible. Or rather, if you did that, it would cease to be -- what is typically considered -- an Indy!Harry. Because it's not that this is an outlandish idea, it's that I think this is a factual reality: the Indy elements are in all stories we like -- it's just that they're done in a good way, which by neccessity means it's no longer a typical Indy!Harry.

    E.g.:

    The core of the story is Harry doing stuff on his own. This is, in essence, just an extension from Canon. Harry needed to be an orphan without guardians that could help him, so that it was impossible for him to turn to adult figures when facing problems. I've seen this issue in many of the Harry-has-a-family AUs I read way back when -- whenever faced with a crisis, Harry just called on someone competent to sort it out (as he should), and story, tension etc. went the way of the dodo.

    Indy!Harry is the opposite of this -- but the core element is in every good story; in fact, it's enshrined in Potter Law (mistreat your Hero, I think it was).

    Perhaps we think of different things when we hear Indy!Harry -- the draw for me never was Harry being his own faction (well, apart from that time when I was 15 and thought rants in the middle of the Great Hall were cool), but rather, that it took the doing-stuff-on-your-own thing even further than Canon. And that remains an important aspect of every good story today, no?
     
  18. Plutus

    Plutus Squib

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    I know that inheriting titles to get his foot in the door of politics is typical for Indy!Harry stories but is that really necessary? Isn’t there that British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot that Dumbledore was mentioned to have been back when he was in Hogwarts?

    I could see it as ordinarily there’s not much influence to the position and it’s more of a resume padding thing even though the description of the position says otherwise but Harry’s fame would make the youth of Britain more interested in writing to him about their issues and the political players of the Wizengamot more interested in talking to him.

    Have the initial arc about him using his position to try and oust Umbridge from Hogwarts and the positive and negative repercussions of that becoming the start of his political career.
     
  19. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    To not make this an argument about definitions, though, because what @Taure intended is pretty clear:

    I think there is a space for those stories. Funnily enough (or perhaps, logically, given the authors), Harry getting pissed off at Dumbledore and for all I care also starting a cringe-worthy rant is very much something a 15 year old would do (in fact, see OotP). So the premise itself is sound. The issue is with what comes after. Adults aren't going to be awed, they will sound like Phineas.

    So one idea would be to take all the elements as the starting point, put Harry on the usual path courtesy of the Indy!Harry construction kit, and then let him discover that reality disagrees. And from there, there is a lot of potential for growth in character. You could do a fairly great story with that.

    The trick is just to strike a balance between failure and successes. Reading about a ranty teenager is trying, seeing him fail is funny but by then you lost your reader, who's now rooting against your protagonist -- not what you want. I'd probably try my luck with a heavy defeat right at the start. Could be any of the usual plot points that are inverted -- say, Harry, leaves Privet Drive and Dumbledore's observation, and instead of living the good life, he gets captured by Voldemort. Or he takes up his title of Lord Potter because fuck having adults decide, and instead of outmanoevring the collective pureblood society, he bumbles around and ends up losing his family fortune. Etc.

    Any of those then would force him to grow up a lot, and claw his way back up against the odds (at which he naturally will eventually succeed). Sounds like a story I would read.


    That Dumbledore (or any other character, really) shouldn't have cartoonish traits is clear, but that's a general thing, not a feature of Indy!Harry, I don't think. That it showed up there so often was just a consequence of who the authors were -- when you are 15, Dumbledore's actions just look like that, and it takes someone ... well, not 15, to imagine and grasp (and write!) Dumbledore's perspective.
     
  20. Arthellion

    Arthellion Alchemist

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    @Sesc what you describe reminds me of how well done the first season of Game of Thrones was.

    You have Ned Stark, honorable and just who you think is going to survive because he’s right...only to find reality disagrees.

    A petyr Baelish betrayal by someone Harry trusts wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    First arc builds the whole indyHarry but ends with turning it on it’s head.
     
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