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Things You Like

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, Nov 23, 2021 at 9:53 AM.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    I like some things. Maybe you like some things too.

    Talented Harry

    I like fics where Harry is much more talented with magic and more curious about it. As a minimum, I generally only read fics where he has at least a similar level of talent to his parents, but I prefer Dumbledore-level talent.

    I prefer it when the raw talent aspect and the more academic inclinations are combined, because I don't like magical systems where it's possible to be a powerful wizard without being academically accomplished. Powerful brutes should not be possible. If you're a dullard who is ignorant of theory, you should also be bad at magic.

    Equally, I don't like it where the only difference is Harry being more studious, without the higher level of natural talent. This produces a Harry who reads like Hermione rather than a Dumbledore-level wizard with significant magical intuition and creativity.

    Female Harry

    I like fics where Harry is a chick. I like the more feminine attributes this allows Harry to display, best exemplified by Jasmine in A Long Journey Home.

    But female Harry absolutely must not be called "Harry" and should not be canon Harry with different chromosomes. The character should be meaningfully different and have feminine rather than masculine personality traits and appearance, else you might as well have kept the character male.

    Harry at odds with the Order

    I like fics where Harry is aligned with the Order in terms of sharing the goal of defeating Voldemort, but is at odds with them in world view/opinions on magic etc. I just enjoy the tension it creates as people who are very different are forced to work together for a common goal.

    That is, just so long as it doesn't devolve into bashing of the Order or ranty Harry. A balanced approach where each perspective is given a fair airing is best.


    I like it when Harry has some sort of long term magical project he is working on. A good example is if he is building up/renovating a magical residence to use as his base. But magical objects are also good.

    This works best when it is a slow build up over time, where Harry is doing the work himself rather than contracting it out, and where milestones in progress are tied into the plot and/or character arc.

    Inheriting memories

    A sub-species of talented Harry, I like fics where Harry inherits someone's memories (ideally Voldemort/Dumbledore/Grindelwald or similar), which gives him an instant boost in terms of skills and ability. I like it best where this leads to a certain level of identity crisis, with Harry's personality shifting with the memories and there being conflict (internal and external) over that change in personality. However I am also perfectly happy with Harry only taking the useful memories and discarding the rest.

    The only time I dislike this trope is where it is used with a magical cores type magical system so that Harry's skill level changes but his "raw power" may be insufficient.

    The big bonus to these fics is that you can have a talented Harry while maintaining the canon backstory, rather than having to rewrite Harry from year 1 as more talented. So you can e.g. take year 6 as the fic's jump-off point, going straight into interesting scenarios rather than having to build up from scratch.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021 at 10:03 PM
  2. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Order Member

    Nov 9, 2013
    United Kingdom
    I like some things too.

    Adult Harry

    A little similar to Taure's talented Harry preference, but not quite identical. I often dislike the methods used to turn a school kid into a meaningfully powerful wizard in comparison to people with a lifetime of experience, so over time I have migrated to a preference for simply making Harry an adult. Giving him an extra decade to gain experience (in both magic and just... being a person) is my personal favourite way of making him relevant in a contest of power. It also allows for a bit more variation in how Harry is powerful, as he's no longer restrained to either being a massive nerd or an instinctual prodigy. He can have actual contextualised learned knowledge.

    Time Travel

    The problem with having Harry be an adult is that it kinda screws up the most common plots; Harry doing something different in Hogwarts. Fortunately, I'm kinda done with Hogwarts rehashes, so this is no great loss. It does mean, however, that any story seeking to re-use canon elements in its plot will have to go for the time travel angle. Whether that time travel is to the founders era, to the Grindelwald war, or to Voldemort's first rise, I really don't mind. Just avoid my personal pet peeves, and I'll probably be interested.

    Dimension Travel

    For much the same reason as the Time Travel preference. It allows you to put an adult Harry into a canon adjacent situation without being forced to skill up a kid through some means. It allows you to have an adult Harry potentially interacting with characters like Snape or Dumbledore in interesting ways which are often not really possible when he's still a kid.


    Yeah, alright. No one is surprised by this one. I know a lot of people dislike crossovers kinda on principle, and I get it I really do. I see crossovers as a great way of setting characters and ideas from different settings against each other. What are the similarities in how Tolkien and Rowling address human mortality, and the fear of it? What are the differences? A story which has the ability to talk around these things while also telling an engaging story is my jam. Oh, and it greatly increases the possibilities for waifus. It is also important that both settings in the crossover gain through the melding. Resist the urge to curb-stomp one or other setting.

    Canon-ish Feel

    I like the wit and whimsy of the Harry Potter setting. I like the messiness and frequent illogicality. Keep it, please. The main reason I read Harry Potter fanfiction is that world, and the magic of it all. I want to be transported back to those moments in my childhood when I was reading the books for the first time. Unlike many, I have a much more... loose formulation of canon than others. As long as a work does not explicitly contradict canon, I'm willing to put in the mental effort to make even fairly strange ideas 'fit'. It's not a hard limitation.


    I prefer a story in which there is more going on than just... events. I want to feel like the author has something to say about the characters, or the world, or even our own world. This is an incredibly difficult hurdle to clear, though, as I do not mean I want to read a manifesto. I want the story to prompt me to think about something I may not have considered all that much from a slightly different point of view. I don't demand this, as it's incredibly difficult to achieve, but it's probably one of the things I love most about Pratchett, so I'd be remiss if I didn't put it in here.

    Something New, Something Old

    Bit of a weird one, but I like to see people try new things, without throwing out everything. I often find massive AUs to be tiring to keep up with, but an au which explores the influence of a single change, without also throwing in a dozen other changes? Now that's right up my alley. I'm a fairly lazy reader a lot of the time, and I find that stories like this, which can track the potential influence of a single small change can do more to enflame my imagination than the most grand and sweeping AU setting.

    Original Plot

    By this point I feel like I've read every possible configuration of the canon plot, and that's probably one of the reasons for my love of time travel, dimensional travel, crossovers, and post-Hogwarts. The story in those cases is often forced to concoct some novel plot elements for Harry to deal with, and I like that a lot. Like I said before, the thing I like most about Harry Potter is the setting (and the characters). The yearly plots I did enjoy as a child, but while characters can grow, and settings can expand, plots don't really change, no matter how many times you retell them. So an original plot is lovely.

    A Smidge of Romance

    I'm just an old romantic at heart. Just don't do too much of it. While I like it as a secondary plot thread or story element, I often get bored by full-bore romance. Just give me enough that I can see a bit more to Harry than merely 'butt kicking, for goodness!'
  3. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    "When anything bothers me and I'm feeling unhappy, I just try and think of nice things."

    "What kind of things?"

    "Oh, well, let me see... nice things."


    Lordships in letters and smirking in dungeons,
    Smart indy Harrys and mind magic lessons,
    Gender flipped characters wearing dress robes,
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    Blonde kooky Lunas and cruel tricky Pansys,
    Daphnes and Sue Bones and Veela with accents,
    Rare pairs that come with a new take on flings,
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    Spells in long classes with deep magic theory,
    Plot-turns that stay in my mind and fic-searches,
    Peggy-sue trav’lers who meddle with time,
    These are a few of my favourite things.

    When the phone rings,
    When the clock ticks,
    When I’m feeling bored,
    I simply remember my favourite things,
    And then I don’t feel so bad.
  4. Silirt

    Silirt Chief Warlock DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Sep 19, 2018
    Love for the source material:
    This is easily the most important component. I'm not interested in reading your si or your original with a dash of hp and worst of all is when the story exists to in some way dunk on Rowling or the series. Writing things your way and making the fictional universe into a soapbox is not 'fixing the series'. The ideal fanfiction author wants to add something complementary to what he or she already loves.
    Cool Supporting Cast:
    It doesn't have to be that anyone rivals Harry's place as the main character or is treated as a lynchpin to the entire plot, it just has to be more than a long 1v1 between Harry and Voldemort; the supporting cast contextualizes the main characters. When they're doing things on their own and not just set pieces, then they're adding to the story in meaningful ways.
    Cool Death Eaters:
    We had a thread on how the Death Eaters have actual arguments with varying degrees of truth to them. I really don't want them to be actually right or even mostly in the right; as long as they have some reason to think they're in the right, that's fine. I would also like to see them be diverse rather than basically identical like they are canonically. If there are at least different factions within the Death Eaters, you've done a good job.
    Expanded Universe:
    The setting that we have in canon is possibly one of the best things about the series, but I always love it when an author goes beyond that, either to a different time or place. We get a few details about what the rest of the world is like in GOF and basically none after that. If your fic takes us to some place completely off the beaten path, like Tanzania, and you generally do a good job with it, then you've added to the universe.
  5. Heleor

    Heleor EsperJones DLP Supporter

    Mar 3, 2006
    Seattle, WA
  6. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Competition Winner CHAMPION

    May 29, 2020
    Away with the fairies
    Canon characterization and additions to canon personalities that make sense

    I read fanfic mainly to experience more with the characters I already know and love and occasionally there's an author who manages to write one or more characters in such a way that I almost forget it's not JKR writing. Even more exciting is when someone else's headcanon or analysis of a character corresponds with mine and I get to explore a new personality facet of an old favourite that makes sense. To me that's the best feeling.

    British stuff

    I'm not British and can't usually tell if an author's faking it, but anytime I see a 'bugger off' or 'snivelling tosspot' I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside and am immediately sold on the fic.

    Everyday Magic

    I love it when authors add mundane magic or magic that's completely useless to the plot. Give me all your potions that make the drinker speak backwards or your magical cameras that make it's owner look a little bit taller than everyone else in the photo or your hex for swapping socks with the person sitting next to you.

    Magical Beasts

    Animals can be great comic relief in stories and there's such a wealth to choose from from the old Magical Beast book and then you can make up any number of new ones.

    Minor characters getting to participate in the plot

    Shoutout to the people in the quarterly competitions who utilize characters like Aberforth and Filch in their writing, it's a joy to read. When I do it I like to add interpersonal relationships between them, so in my fics Trelawney had a sordid love affair with Aberforth back when she was in dire straits and living in his pub, Kettleburn spent years trying to unsuccessfully woo professor Sprout and Dumbledore, Doge and Bathilda Bagshot used to meet up once a month for their book club.
  7. ashland

    ashland Second Year

    Oct 16, 2015
    New York
    High Score:
    Mentor Stories

    I enjoy stories where Harry finds a mentor, especially early on for proper development. Someone to encourage him to marry his curiosity to academic pursuits. I do wish more authors went in other directions that don't involve Snape and only the Dark Arts.

    Arrogant/Self-Assured Characters Who Can Back It

    I'm a big fan of Dumbledore, Fleur, and the idea of (young) James Potter and Sirius Black. People who knew they were talented and/or pretty and let you know it, too. I've read far too many 'Harry is super talented, but keeping it hush' stories and all the Fleur stories where she's crying about being too beautiful.

    Canonish Harry

    I actually enjoy his canon personality. Even shouty Harry. I do prefer the sarcastic brat who was far too curious for his own good, though.

    Usage of Minor Characters

    Canon is full of names with little to no personality. I enjoy it when those characters are brought to the forefront and expanded on. Everyone from the Crouches to Harry's family mentioned on Pottermore to the never used Wilkes.

    Building Up and Expanding on the Source Material

    I like when stories smooth over plot holes, dents, and craters rather than pointing out the flaws. I love headcanons that fit in with the characterizations and world building JKR gave us.

    Powerful Magic

    Not just certain witches and wizards, but the magic itself. HP magic can act on it's own. I like when stories retain it's quirks and abilities to perceive and discern.

  8. Donimo

    Donimo Auror

    Jul 4, 2015
    Building or Making

    One of my favorite things in fantasy is things being made. Buildings unfolding from a briefcase, magical swords being forged, a forest springing to life. It's far more enjoyable to be than magical combat, which is the more typical.
  9. Sowaka

    Sowaka First Year

    Sep 24, 2018
    "Reckless Abandon" Vibe
    This is hard to describe, as more than anything else it's a combination of various elements forming a vaguely defined "vibe" I like. A kind of "you'll know when you see it" deal.
    First you need a more powerful, driven, irreverent Harry with a "fuck it, let's do it" attitude where you can tell the author has fun writing it.
    And then you need a world and characters to match him, because without that, you'll end up with a cringey dab fest.

    Some examples:
    The Lie I've Lived - a masterpiece in setting a consistent "world theme", which is its most underappreciated quality in my opinion
    Too Young to Die
    and perhaps surprisingly, my favorite fic, Black Luminary - a reckless adandon fic without being reckless - but when stuff goes down, it goes down hard
  10. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    @Sowaka - If you like Star Wars / HP try the Havoc side of the Force to see a Harry that I think has this vibe.
  11. MuggsieToll

    MuggsieToll Second Year

    Mar 9, 2019
    Death Eater!Harry

    Something about seeing The Chosen One falling from grace just hits the spot.
  12. Gengar

    Gengar Degenerate Shrimp –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Feb 3, 2009
    High Score:
    • Age up the characters. I've virtually no interest in reading about children any more.
    • High level of competence all round. It's just infinitely more enjoyable to read a competent protag triumphing against the odds without contrivances or mcguffins.
    • Proactive as opposed to reactive protagonists
    • Other forms of foci that have benefits/ drawbacks
    • Other kinds of magic that mesh will in universe
    • A recognition that purebloods have a smidge of a point, especially if you have an emphasis on muggleborns coming into the world and 'modernising' the magical world.
    • A larger, more complex magical world.
    • Sexy, poshbitch Daphne
  13. Sowaka

    Sowaka First Year

    Sep 24, 2018
    Thank you. Normally I don't check crossovers much, for some reason they don't appeal to me much with HP, but I'll check out a direct recommendation