1. Q3 - 2021 - Competition Ending Soon!
    topic - AFTERMATH
    CLICK HERE!
    ENDING SOON!
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Hi there, Guest

    Only registered users can really experience what DLP has to offer. Many forums are only accessible if you have an account. Why don't you register?
    Dismiss Notice
  3. DLP Writing Competition - Voting !!
    FLASH FIC FINALISTS! Voting via poll - leave a simple one paragraph review/comment on each story!
    Which two stories did you think were the best?
    Click here to participate!
    Dismiss Notice
  4. Introducing for your Perusing Pleasure

    New Thread Thursday
    +
    Shit Post Sunday

    READ ME
    Dismiss Notice

What if the HP books had covered terms not years?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    2,404
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    I grew up sneakily reading my sister's Enid Blyton books, in particular her various boarding-school focused series Malory Towers, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, and St. Clare's.

    Common themes in these stories were:

    - Making friends (and failures to do so)

    - A schoolyard antagonist/rival

    - Trips to the local village to spend pocket money on treats

    - Competition for positions of authority such as becoming a sports team captain or prefect

    - Breaking the rules, getting caught, and being punished

    - Clandestine midnight feasts

    The influence of these stories on Harry Potter is clear, and many elements survive. However, each Harry Potter story also had its main "mystery/adventure" plotline, usually connected to Voldemort. This gave the HP books a lot more substantial plot and stakes, but also had the effect of side-lining the more traditional boarding school elements.

    One of the features of Blyton's stories is that they were told with one book per term (i.e. 3 a year), rather than a book per year.

    I can't help but feel that this format would have helped the HP books with structure, pacing, and fitting in side-plots to flesh out the world. The HP series could have used more time to focus on Harry getting to know his schoolmates and detailing their social dynamics, more time on magic/classes, and as the series progressed, more time on romance.

    In the end, JKR ended up trying to shove a lot of this stuff into HBP, but it did not fit well with the timing of that book, set during a time when the war was supposed to be escalating and Harry was supposed to be coming to terms with his role in it. The innocent, carefree tone of all the Quidditch, romance, and classes didn't really feel like it belonged in that book. It would have been much better in POA-OotP, but those books (especially GOF and OotP) were already pretty full of side plots.

    The solution: split the books up into more separate volumes so that you can fit in the side material. You can still have year-long mystery adventure plots, with each school year serving as a kind of semi-contained trilogy. But along side that you would have a lot more social stuff.

    I had intended to set out a rough idea for a series plan along with this post, but I have to get back to work so I will hopefully return later to do that.

    In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on the general idea.
     
  2. wordhammer

    wordhammer Dark Lord DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,867
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In the wood room, somewhere flat
    So you're thinking the first book is broken into 3 novellas like 'HP enters the Wizarding World', 'HP and the Dragon's Egg', 'HP and the Magic Mirror'?
     
  3. Silirt

    Silirt Minister of Magic DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,384
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Georgia
    The pacing of the first book is definitely the fastest, because it covered the same length of time and was by far the shortest. Just increasing the length of the book would allow for more worldbuilding, character introduction, and side plots, but it was a relatively short book for a reason; the author did not want to intimidate children with a weighty tome; she wanted to let her readers get their feet wet in the world of Harry Potter. Having the first year be split up into novellas seems like it would accomplish the goal of more content without each publication being overly long, but I can't help but feel like it would look like a cash grab. How would the author justify beginning and ending the novellas by term instead of by year? Would there be a term-length plot as well as a year-length plot?
     
  4. Alindrome

    Alindrome A bigger, darker mark Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    2,762
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    England
    But then Rowling would have made Voldemort try a new plot to kill Harry three times a year. And here I thought he had it rough before... Poor bastard.
     
  5. aAlouda

    aAlouda Professor

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2019
    Messages:
    401
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Germany
    We'd probably get individual books focused on Harry's interaction with different races of beings, like one book on the Centaurs, one on the Merpeople and one on the Giants.
     
  6. Hansar

    Hansar First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2013
    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    England
    I think it would only hurt the series' structure and pacing. Wouldn't the climax of book 1 of the Philosopher's Stone just be Harry learning about the mirror of Erised? That's no heroically thwarting Voldemort's plan to come back to life and take over the world, and there's not much of a hook to make you want to read the next book either. Setting the series up like this might give more opportunities to develop other characters and world build but it would make everything else suffer far worse than just making the books longer would. The central mysteries for each year would suffer terribly if they got stretched out over three books.

    I've never read Blyton's works but I imagine they're about as low stakes as fiction gets and are just slice of life stories, set in a school. Harry Potter isn't slice of life it's an adventure/mystery series about a boy fighting an evil wizard. Harry's social life and day to day activities shouldn't be the focus.

    I think the love and investment you already have for the series is making you greatly overestimate how much people would enjoy this change. You'd love to know more about the other Hogwarts students and the fine details of the Wizarding World but would a stranger to the series feel the same?
     
  7. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Order Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2013
    Messages:
    845
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    It would surely require so much in the way of restructuring that it would probably render the books almost unrecognisable to the casual viewer.

    In a way, you're asking 'What if, instead of reinventing the KidLit/YA genres in its image, the Harry Potter books had been much the same as that which went before.' Perhaps you could argue that it would be possible to keep the essence of Harry Potter in a book-per-term format, but I'm not convinced. A large portion of what set Harry Potter apart was its (relatively) intricate mystery plotting which was interesting enough to hold the attention of adults, while still giving the children who formed its primary audience the fun and excitement of a fantasy adventure.

    The thing is that the Harry Potter books, much as we love to dissect the world they present, aren't really about world-building. The world is a backdrop which shifts and changes along with the needs of the plot. While I have no doubt additional books could have given us a more complete image of the Wizarding World (though given Rowling's more recent additions to it, I wonder if this would in fact be a good thing), I'm simply not sure that we'd even be sitting here discussing them.

    But lets say the Harry Potter books and their setting still managed to capture and reforge the zeitgeist, what would we have?

    We'd have a world with far fewer gaps in it, for one. While I don't think Rowling would ever fall into the trap of explaining magic, the number of data points would be significantly higher. Not only would both magic and the world be more tightly defined, but so too would the characters and events. Daphne Greengrass may have been revealed to be an unbecoming girl with straggly brown hair, and their would be far fewer 'untold moments' into which a fan writer could insert their 'canon compatible' stories.

    On the other hand, while we'd have less space to play in, we'd almost certainly have more toys to play with. More characters, more places, more events. To still be that genre redefining moment, I think Rowling would have to form each term around some mystery element, with its own important pay-off. She would have to add more secondary villains, as having Voldemort be defeated so frequently would surely neuter his threat. Perhaps Malfoy and Snape would have become much more than what they were in canon, and perhaps she would have been forced to add more ambiguity to the house system; a Gryffindor villain for one term would surely have been an interesting addition.

    It may become difficult to stretch credulity to that level, however. A large part of what made Harry Potter different from what came before was the stakes, both personal and on the grand scale. If we were 16 stories in (and still only in Harry's fifth year), the danger posed by the threats he faced, no matter how seemingly significant, might have begun to seem a bit pointless.

    I suspect turning it into so many books would serve to weaken the stakes of the stories we did get, no matter what they may be. With seven books, Rowling was able to mix things up enough to avoid falling into a pattern: three books with 'school scale' mysteries, one transitionary book which goes from school scale to society scale, and then three books focused on a problem which is bigger than Hogwarts itself. With 21 books, I fear it would become very... episodic. It would risk falling into a villain of the week format, or you'd end up with books which had no great conflict of their own, and instead served only to set up later stories.

    Overall, I'm not convinced it would be a positive change.
     
  8. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Professor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2012
    Messages:
    445
    My opinion on canon is that already the seven year length of the series was too long, and caused the overarching plot to have too much fat in it. The whole Umbridge in Hogwarts -plot line was totally unnecessary, as was the drama with Slughorn and Draco's assassination attempts in HBP. I mean, you have the dramatic resurrection of Voldemort in the end of GoF, and then in the next book the main antagonist is... the Ministry of Magic?
     
  9. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,382
    Location:
    One of the Shires
    High Score:
    9,373
    We'd have likely seen more out-of-Hogwarts stuff, if only because it's difficult to keep a setting going in one location. Maybe trips out to famous locations and a mystery built around those, or more events like the Triwizard Tournament that take place on a yearly basis (so every third book or so).

    If we went that route then it would necessarily mean less involvement by Voldemort directly, but perhaps more from his followers/supporters. Perhaps the Death Eaters didn't just fade into the night with his death and there's still some residual terrorism going on that could be brought up in parts. It would also mean we'd need a more proactive set of protagonists who go out and actively seek excitement, because you can make a 7 book series with a protagonist who has things happen to him more often than not, but not in a 21 book series.

    Perhaps Harry has more of an explorer's mindset, Hermione finds a fascination in historic places, or Ron takes after his brother Charlie and gets really involved in the Care of Magical Creatures side of things. This also optionally broadens the scope of the series so that Harry isn't the centre of the story every year. We could see the side characters and antagonists fleshed out more. Umbridge would be so much worse as a villain if she stretched out over three books rather than one, for example.
     
  10. Alistair

    Alistair DA Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Messages:
    156
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    I'm not convinced it'd be a good change.

    Where I am now, as someone who likes HP, I'd probably read 21 books on it and enjoy the worldbuilding, the additional magic stuff, the sideplots.

    But I first read the first book as a 9 year old. Back then, would I have gotten into HP in the first place if they were that much more ponderous, that much more of a commitment of time and if we only got to read one terms worth of stuff every couple of years, with 6 or 7 between any meaningful 'main plot' development? I don't think I would. I'd have read Philosopher's Stone, volume I, conclued that it was a pretty cool world with interesting characters, but that it was heavy going with not actually all that much happening. I'd have never picked up volume 2, especially if it didn't come out for two years.

    What would PS(I) contain anyway? Harry gets a letter, we meet Hagrid, he goes to Diagon Alley, on to Hogwarts, a couple chapters on magic lessons and he gets a cool cloak for Christmas. Oh, and there's a fancy mirror that tells you your depest desire. That's it. That's the big climax for a 200 page book?

    The series was supposed to be a tight, commercially viable children's story, and is written and paced as such. If you want another million words of added worldbuilding, well that's what fanfiction is for, surely?
     
  11. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Fifth Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2018
    Messages:
    147
    When it comes to the books that I loved the most in my life, the memory of reading them that is usually clearest in my mind is how I felt when I closed the book.

    Growing up, there were a few children's book series where I bought and read like 30+ books in the series, but I have little to no memory of those plots (though I do remember the characters pretty well). Those books aren't the ones that I really loved, and they don't stand out in my mind like HP does.

    Sure, the writing and world of HP are great even without the satisfying conclusion of a mystery at the end. However, if I finished a Harry Potter book without, for example, the big conclusion of Barty Crouch Jr. at the end of GoF, I doubt 11-year-old me would've closed the book and thought, "This. Was. Amazing." like I did back in 2000.

    I think book conclusions really affect your overall opinion of the book. Now, I know that if "you can still have year-long mystery adventure plots, with each school year serving as a kind of semi-contained trilogy," then I'd still experience that feeling 33% of the time when finishing a HP book. But ironically, I think if you draw out a mystery over the course of several books, it's actually a less-satisfying arc (unless it's a mega-mystery that's a major part of the protagonist's life and isn't solved until the very, very end).

    If the first book of Harry's fourth year just ended with him realizing that, for example, it was actually Ron who tipped him off about the First Task and ended with their friendship restored, I don't think the books overall would have quite the same place in my heart. I like that this storyline with Harry and Ron was just one of several arcs within GoF. It was a sweet, concise arc — and many complete children's novels are built on sweet, concise arcs. But with GoF, I knew that if I kept reading, it was only going to get better from there. And that really resonated with me, as a kid.
     
  12. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,051
    Location:
    USA
    If she had fleshed out the magical world so thoroughly, there would be less room to maneuver for fanfic writers. She did us all a favor, even if the lack of world-building is sometimes exasperating. We have to use our imagination, which adds to the charm, imo.
     
  13. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    8,162
    Location:
    The South
    I'd have liked this in concept, preferred it in fact, but I'm not sure how well JKR would have pulled it off. Mostly for all of the reasons outlined by @Steelbadger.

    I LIKE that we didn't have a lot of focus on schoolyard level troubles. Those might appeal to actual kids and adults for nostalgia purposes, but the adventure plot dealing with Voldemort (international terrorist) and Harry (unwilling child celebrity) being part of it while trying to be a normal kid (at magic school) is what drew in such wide readership.

    That would need to be maintained somehow every term. Not in that Voldemort needed to turn up every term, but that Harry continues to interact with adults who are trying to use him / train him / take advantage of him / harm him. Removing those types of plotlines in favor of schoolyard drama would remove what made it so popular to begin with.

    And that could definitely be done. And we'd get more of the school-aspects and dating and whatnot mixed in with it along the way, sure. Win all around. More fleshing out of magic and characters and the world in general. FTW.

    But not sure JKR would have been able to do that and get the same incredible results she did from the original 7 books.

    Edit: She might have done it poorly in hindsight, but JKR pulled off the "internationally renowned terrorist wants to fuck with this one kid in particular" plotline. That gave HP teeth that very few kids stories have (and PS/SS and CoS were more for kids than for teens). Remove that and older teens / adults probably never would have fully engaged
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  14. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Competition Winner CHAMPION

    Joined:
    May 29, 2020
    Messages:
    119
    Location:
    Away with the fairies
    I would likely have loved the books you're outlining as a kid, but then I also loved Enid Blyton and read everything she published, which is a lot. I think this was just before I found HP. I absolutely preferred her mystery books to the boarding school ones, though, with groups of kids being left to their own devices and solving mysteries or surviving in new environments. To me, HP follows on a tradition from these, too. I've not gone back to re-read any of these in my teens nor twenties, but I almost on a yearly basis re-read HP. This likely has a lot to do with the quality of writing, but still.

    I'm an anomaly in that I've never enjoyed another fantasy book/series other than HP, and the series you're outlining sounds like it would be more to my natural tastes, and because of that a part of me thinks I would actually have preferred it. But I think that almost all other readers would not, so I'm glad she wrote it the way she did. Agreed that she could have made the first ones slightly longer to add more world building details, one more wizarding location or village would have done wonders to enlarging the world.
     
  15. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    8,162
    Location:
    The South
    Publisher probably would not have let her. First time children's author who has been rejected a dozen times isn't gonna get to do a 100k+ book. Fantasy and Scifi, maybe, but kids? She had to prove she could sell them first. Granted I don't think she tried/asked.
     
Loading...