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Perfecting the Independent Harry Genre

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

  1. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    Pissed at your ex bf? Join the Nazis.
     
  2. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    The biggest issue with the cliche Independent!Harry is his relationship with Dumbledore, unrealistic training montages and all-around comical incompetence from adults which allows Harry to run circles around them. So instead of Harry fighting to gain independence _from_ Dumbledore, change the dynamic into a more traditional "elderly mentor dies and forces the hero to become his own man". Meaning axe the entirety of OotP storyline with Fudge and Umbridge, and kill Dumbledore off at the end of year 5.

    So;

    Years 1-3: as canon

    Year 4:

    Change the tasks to be more magically involved, forcing Harry to learn more than just the summoning charm for the first two tasks. Introduce Sirius as an active character, and have Harry sneak to Grimmauld Place to practice with him. Also lay groundwork for later "Black Inheritance" plotline.

    Change the Voldemort resurrection scene up a bit, and have Sirius come to rescue instead of Harry holding his own. Year 4 ends with Sirius getting killed by Fudge instead of Crouch Jr, who is captured alive. Dumbledore, now armed with evidence in form of Crouch Jr and incensed by the summary execution of Sirius flexes some political muscle, and has Fudge thrown out of the ministry with his cronies.

    Year 5:

    Year 5 is one long legal battle over the Black inheritance against Malfoy, who argues that Narcissa and Draco should inherit everything, while Dumbledore and Harry are opposed and point at Sirius' will. Meanwhile Dumbledore explains the prophecy and horcruxes to Harry, as well as the importance of Wizengamot. Voldemort does whatever it is that he did during OotP. DADA is taught by the real Moody, who turns the course into an imitation of Auror training with special attention given to Harry, with no complaints from anyone with the threat of Voldemort looming over everything.

    The year ends with Harry and Dumbledore finally winning the legal battle over Malfoy, and Harry taking his seat in Wizengamot as Lords Black and Potter. Just after Harry is sworn in, Voldemort attacks. Dumbledore manages to "kill" Voldemort, but not before the entire ministry building is set ablaze in fiendfyre. Dumbledore dies, and so does a large number of Wizengamot Lords and high level ministry employees. Before dying Dumbledore tells Fawkes to take Harry to safety.

    Year 6:

    So now Harry is "independent" and competent at least in combat applications of magic, having been personally tutored by Sirius, Moody and Dumbledore. You could show that he still struggles in other types of magic; perhaps he was barely able to get acceptable from potions OWL, for example, not having had time to study from all other things he had to focus on.

    Harry also knows that Voldemort will come back sooner rather than later. No one believes him, though, and he can't exactly go and announce that Voldemort still has horcruxes left, if he wants to have a shot at destroying them. The ministry is in shambles, and many of the old alliances based on personal trust and friendship between now dead Wizengamot Lords are gone.

    Basically this is where you have the ministry acting against Harry instead of year 5. Ultimately Voldemort comes back (Halloween?) and is able to take over the new ministry pretty easily, and the story goes on from there. You could also have some of Harry's peers from Hogwarts also take over their family seats after their now dead predecessors, adding a bit more personal layer to the politics.
     
  3. Rameses

    Rameses Squib

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    Why not just remove Dumbledore from the scene?

    When Voldemort attacked Potters, Dumbledore was also there. There will be epic battle. Both of them die. Harry's parents also die. Only Harry survives.

    Fast forward to 11th year, we have very clean slate to build IndyHarry.

    When Voldemort died, his followers divided into two groups. One being fed up with Voldemort cruel methods. They still have pureblood ideology but no longer subscribe to Voldemort methods. Other group still lives in denial, waiting for their lord to come back. Most of them are locked up in prison. The world will be having three groups. Light faction, pureblood faction and crazy faction.

    Dumbledore makes it sure Voldemort never returns. There will be a shade of Voldemort which is hell bent on killing Harry. Harry faces it in his first year itself. No one believes his story. It will give him enough motivation to excel in his studies. This shade will be more like personal threat rather than being social issue like in canon. To balance the threat, we will have lifelike portrait of Dumbledore which guides Harry.

    There will be no Boy-Who-Lived thing in the story. He will inherit his Potter seat under unique circumstances. His seat will have ruined estate attached to it. He will build a simple hut there in his fifth/sixth year and make it his HQ. He still has to 'kill' the shade.

    I will add more story later.
     
  4. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    True enough, but I think it depends on how blatantly evil Voldemorts forces are being. If they're advancing their cause under the guise of a fairly extreme but still mostly palatable mainstream political movement then I could definitely see people joining them for a variety of reasons. The more extreme, evil stuff may well be done at arms length, or even entirely out of sight of normal society.

    The Nazi's didn't walk into power on the slogan "We're evil and we're going to kill anyone who gets in our way", they made themselves seem like reasonable, normal people who just wanted the best for society. I think writing Voldemort's faction that way would make them much more insidiously evil.
     
  5. LinguaManiac

    LinguaManiac Fourth Year

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    I really liked your whole setup here, especially as it avoids the trap I fell into in an earlier story I abandoned: using snapshots of the rest of Hogwarts as a sort of elaborate preface.

    One of the other things it suggests is what most of the proposals have. The problem with Indy!Harry stories is that, now most of us in the fandom are older, it seems blatantly outrageous that a fifteen year old just apprenticed in the world of politics could compete on equal terms with political masters. Stories that start at first year overcome much of this barrier by simple comparison . Since we've followed a naive Harry since first year, we can see his comparative maturity at fifth and sixth year and our belief is easy to suspend (see Prince of the Dark Kingdom or perhaps especially Forging the Sword). We don't have that when we start the story at fifth or sixth year.

    Reading all of the suggestions on the thread, I think the only way this genre can work well is if we diverge very early in Harry's Hogwarts years or start up after his Hogwarts years entirely.
     
  6. BeastBoy

    BeastBoy Seventh Year

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    I think Taure lays out some good guidelines on how you'd have to do an indy!Harry well in his post. I think this is inherently a pretty tough challenge, as indy stories as I view them are born out of teenagers rebelling against authority figures, and it's nearly impossible to write a story where a teenager is more intelligent or able to outmaneuver any reasonable adult without feeding that adult an idiot pill.

    To do this properly you would have to go AU, either rewriting years 1-7 (which I suspect Victoria Potter is going for) or unfolding the backstory even while you tell the story of an older Harry (like Unfound Door). Both of these methods would take a skilled and diligent writer to do well, and in general you don't have fanfiction authors who are skilled enough to write this type of story or diligent enough to see it through.

    My proposal would be:

    Year 4: Rework the Triwizard tournament. More tasks and varied tasks, and Harry pushes himself to learn more advanced magic to get up to the standard of the older students with help from Crouch Jr. and Hermione (not going for a Harmony narrative, just a helpful friendship). Harry and Cedric both grab the cup, go to the graveyard, and Cedric is killed, however, Harry disrupts the ritual by defeating Peter and destroying the homunculus. The Pettigrew fight isn't easy--Peter is an adult wizard--but Harry's Tournament-honed skills allow him to come out on top. Voldemort's soul flees after the homunculus is destroyed.

    Now, Harry and Dumbledore have time. They still know Voldemort is alive, but just like after First Year, they know they won't be able to convince Magical Britain of the fact. Dumbledore doesn't have the looming threat of a full-bodied Voldemort hanging over his head, and he's not worried about Voldemort controlling Harry like he is in OOF canon, so he decides that the best course of action is to begin training Harry.

    Year 5-7: No endless summer of Dumbledore leveling Harry up; perhaps he starts off recommending Harry some more advance reading to broaden his understanding of magical theory. When Harry returns to school, Dumbledore begins once weekly lessons with him, also Occlumency with Snape (not as time-sensitive as in Canon).

    In the background Dumbledore is working to exonerate Sirius because obviously Peter was still alive, but is facing pushback from the Ministry; obviously they can't question a dead man, Harry's testimony is called into question because of his closeness to Sirius, and the Ministry doesn't want to admit to locking up someone who was innocent. I could see Lucius throwing his weight behind upholding Sirius' conviction, because it makes it easier for Narcissa and Draco to take control of the Black inheritance.

    Maybe you have one courtroom scene where Harry is actually present when he is called as witness, but no indy!Harry cliches where he rants and destroys the Wizengamot with facts and logic. This serves as Harry's introduction to the mysterious ways in which the wizarding government works, and he is told that at age 17 a seat will come available for him. He largely feels powerless and out of his depth.

    Since Dumbledore isn't trying to convince the Ministry Voldemort is back, Fudge doesn't feel threatened and install Umbridge in Hogwarts. Harry and Dumbledore continue Harry's advancement, but Harry faces personal trouble as he begins to withdraw from his friends and social life as he throws himself more into the goal of defeating Voldemort.

    There is the indy!Harry trope where Harry scorns or just pulls away from his Gryffindor friends, which nearly always seems out of character. I don't think this is too out of character if handle it in a more delicate way, though. Rather than Harry holding a grudge against Ron or suddenly realizing Slytherins are cool, consider Harry realizing the importance of his mission, actually believing he has a chance to accomplish it because Voldemort is a spirit somewhere rather than an active threat, and not feeling completely isolated: Dumbledore is actually and advisor and confidant rather than withdrawn like in OOF. He also quits quidditch because the fandom needs less quidditch matches ;)

    In year six you can have the Horcrux hunt, with Harry taking an active role first in getting the memory from Slughorn and later in actually hunting down the items with Dumbledore. I am unsure how to handle the Harry-Snape relationship. Without Harry being under so much pressure, perhaps he is able to restrain himself in Occlumency and resist Snape's attempts to rile him up. I don't see them becoming friendly, obviously, but perhaps reaching a grudging respect is appropriate.

    Sirius' trial is resolved, and he is proven innocent! But oh no, Sirius is also assassinated by some unknown group (it's a random wizard who was Imperious'd, Death Eaters and Lucius are ultimately behind it but don't want to announce who they are). Harry can rage over the unfairness of it all.

    Harry turns 17 and inherits the Potter Estate and Wizengamot seat. The Potter estate isn't helpful at all, no magic swords or books that can help, it's just a crumbling manor house with wards that keep acting up. He begins to attend Wizengamot proceedings with some advice from Dumbledore but feels out of his depth. He is confidant in his magical ability but not in his political maneuvering. At this point he can starting growing closer to Neville as a friend as Neville is also sitting in his family's seat and similarly struggling to stay afloat.

    The school year passes and Harry is becoming more and more disinterested in school. He is sad as he reflects upon Hogwarts, a place that he once loved, has lost its luster because he's had to grow up so fast. He has to assume the role of the head of a wizarding famiily as he politics in the Wizengamot and has to assume the role of a magical prodigy as he trains and hunts horcruxes with Albus.

    I think you'd actually *start* this story at the end of year seven, with all that crap above laid in like Joe does with his AU in Unfound Door. Ending year 7, Harry has three big problems: 1) They still don't know who killed Sirius. Harry and Dumbledore heavily suspect Lucius, but there is no proof. 2) Still haven't located and destroyed all horcruxes. Dumbledore hasn't yet told Harry about the scar horcrux, maybe when that shoe eventually does drop it leads to a fracture between the two of them. They are also worried that Voldemort has found a new way to reform his body, there is rumors of a dark wizard in Eastern Europe--or perhaps in Scandinavia--or perhaps in South America. Many rumors and worries but no solid proof, just dread. 3) Harry has to deal with the politics of the Wizengamot, Lucius seems to be working to pass laws favoring purebloods (and also pave the way for a Voldemort return) and Harry is trying to oppose them.
    ---
    Looking at my wall of text, this is hard. It'd be a hard thing to write. I think one of the biggest things is that I don't see a great way to make Dumbledore an antagonist. Harry can feel resentment but still work with him, or Dumbledore can die, but if an indy!Harry gets to a place where he flat out opposes a non-idiot Dumbledore I couldn't think of a great way to write it where he comes out ahead. Other tropes like Harry becoming more powerful, Harry becoming Lord Potter, or Harry growing distant from his friends can be done well, but Harry one-upping Albus probably can't.
     
  7. ashland

    ashland Second Year

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    I liked @Atri idea of introducing Harry to a politician early on, though I think anyone who isn't - for lack of a better term - under Dumbledore's thumb will do.

    I like Slughorn for this.

    He's cunning and wealthy with access to important people of different professions. Given his flippancy where Sirius was concerned, I imagine him giving away a few secrets from the top: Snape/Lily/James stuff, Sirius, and maybe something about Tom Riddle.

    They can meet in the Leaky Cauldron before first year, he can be the one to rescue Harry in Knockturn Alley, or anytime during Harry's extended stay in Diagon Alley before 3rd year.

    I personally prefer year one as that would change the story from the beginning and sets us up for Slytherin Harry.
     
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