Harry Potter and why its world building is so boring? - Avada Kedavra vs M16

HiddenWarning

I have committed numerous war crimes
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JK was never a world builder. Instead of first establishing an existing world and then putting the story into it, she writes the world around a story. When you actually try to make out a cohesive thing out of what she wrote, it's a mess. Nothing fits together, the numbers don't make sense and the magic is so poorly explored is surprising the story is actually about wizards.
The only part of magic she explored were spells and those weren't too well explained either. We still know little to none about potions, herbology, transmutation and barely anyone actually uses it (and don't get me started on stuff like numerology. Why even introduce it?). There's also the fact that large chunk of presented magic revolves around Harry and Voldemort. That's also main reason why spin-offs and any new media is bad and boring: because the writers have very little to work with.

There's also the whole post-book lore she posts, which doesn't really help. My favourite part is that she introduces several schools but fails to actually point out how different they are. She also contradicts her statements constantly (Hogwarts is for British kids only, but Draco wanted/could go to Durmstrang. Why? Is Durmstrang so open or is Hogwart xenophobic? She later says that there are just several schools in the whole world, so wizard kids that are born in a country without a school just... don't learn?)
 

Tootsie Bear

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This is why I was excited for the Fantastic Beast movie. In my opinion the magical creatures are one of the better things in Harry Potter because they're basically magical pets for wizards. And the story wouldn't be about Harry Potter for once. Unfortunately the movies are focused on both Grindelwald and Dumbledore which is basically Harry Potter and Voldemort again, this time with more bullshit that the viewer doesn't have to guess that J.K. Rowling is just pulling the plot outta her ass.
 

Doctor Placebo

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there are way worse cases.
Well yeah, but as long as Chuck Wendig is technically considered a writer, that will always be the case for anyone else.

JK was never a world builder. Instead of first establishing an existing world and then putting the story into it, she writes the world around a story.
Even so, there are people who have done a much better job of that. I kinda doubt CS Lewis had all of the stuff he added to later Narnia books planned out when he wrote The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (that weird inter-dimensional pool world from The Magician's Nephew? a not-Arabic slaver empire? the world is flat and beyond the continent are all these mystical islands? the last book introduces a Satan figure to Aslan's Jesus that wasn't elaborated on at all in previous books), but it all makes sense and is consistent within itself.

You don't have to create every detail of your world before you start coming up with your story. All that you have to do is look at what you've already written and ask if the new thing you're about to introduce to the world might break something, and if so, realize you need to fix it somehow. Rowling should've done that when she first thought of the Time Turner, let alone all the stuff in later books.
 

HiddenWarning

I have committed numerous war crimes
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You don't have to create every detail of your world before you start coming up with your story.
Never read Narnia but I doubt CS Lewis just wrote randomly what he thought, without any planning whatsoever. Even as basic shit as coming up with an ending is planning. I don't understand why you're assuming that I support "everything planned, up to the little details" approach. I think it's great and shows amazing capabilities as an author, but not everyone is going to be Tolkien. Sure, some authors might even have dreams about their books or some shit, but JK didn't and it's clear that she's not capable of writing as it goes. So planning the world (and not just the situations) would fix her problems. Moreover, big majority of authors plan. Maybe Stephen King on his drug-induced shizowrittings doesn't, if that's what you're hinting at.

Writing might be a creative art but unless you're writing a slash fanfiction on ao3 it's better to do at least minimal planning. That or just write romance, or anything that is happening in our world. Way easier and way less possibilities to softlock your story. Fantasy is hard to write.
 

Doctor Placebo

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Never read Narnia but I doubt CS Lewis just wrote randomly what he thought, without any planning whatsoever. Even as basic shit as coming up with an ending is planning. I don't understand why you're assuming that I support "everything planned, up to the little details" approach. I think it's great and shows amazing capabilities as an author, but not everyone is going to be Tolkien. Sure, some authors might even have dreams about their books or some shit, but JK didn't and it's clear that she's not capable of writing as it goes. So planning the world (and not just the situations) would fix her problems. Moreover, big majority of authors plan. Maybe Stephen King on his drug-induced shizowrittings doesn't, if that's what you're hinting at.

Writing might be a creative art but unless you're writing a slash fanfiction on ao3 it's better to do at least minimal planning. That or just write romance, or anything that is happening in our world. Way easier and way less possibilities to softlock your story. Fantasy is hard to write.
I don't think we're really disagreeing all that much here, we're just phrasing it differently.
 
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discombobulate

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Even so, there are people who have done a much better job of that. I kinda doubt CS Lewis had all of the stuff he added to later Narnia books planned out when he wrote The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (that weird inter-dimensional pool world from The Magician's Nephew? a not-Arabic slaver empire? the world is flat and beyond the continent are all these mystical islands? the last book introduces a Satan figure to Aslan's Jesus that wasn't elaborated on at all in previous books), but it all makes sense and is consistent within itself.
Never read Narnia but I doubt CS Lewis just wrote randomly what he thought, without any planning whatsoever. Even as basic shit as coming up with an ending is planning. I don't understand why you're assuming that I support "everything planned, up to the little details" approach. I think it's great and shows amazing capabilities as an author, but not everyone is going to be Tolkien. Sure, some authors might even have dreams about their books or some shit, but JK didn't and it's clear that she's not capable of writing as it goes. So planning the world (and not just the situations) would fix her problems. Moreover, big majority of authors plan. Maybe Stephen King on his drug-induced shizowrittings doesn't, if that's what you're hinting at.
Lewis did not plan the Narnia series out at all. They were written in a different order than they are intended to be read or were supposed to happen. "The Magician's Nephew" was written second-to-last and Lewis believed it was best to read them it first and all of them in in-universe chronological order. In his own account of starting the series, he was already writing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" before he suddenly got the idea to put Aslan into it. Each book he wrote he thought would be the last in the series. He certainly didn't plan an end before he got there: it's literally "rocks fall, everyone dies, they go to heaven" in his series about the emotional maturation of children.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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The problem was it didn't have the staying power HP did. Kids outgrew the series before it ended and lost interest. Which is funny, because as wacky as it often got, Animorphs handled darker subject matter a lot better than HP, for the most part.
Actually K.A. Applegate had her first child, Jake, and then the series fell apart as she hired ghost writers less talented than she was.

And yeah, she is aware that the books started to suck because of this.
 

Getting tard comed

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Never read Narnia but I doubt CS Lewis just wrote randomly what he thought, without any planning whatsoever. Even as basic shit as coming up with an ending is planning. I don't understand why you're assuming that I support "everything planned, up to the little details" approach. I think it's great and shows amazing capabilities as an author, but not everyone is going to be Tolkien. Sure, some authors might even have dreams about their books or some shit, but JK didn't and it's clear that she's not capable of writing as it goes. So planning the world (and not just the situations) would fix her problems. Moreover, big majority of authors plan. Maybe Stephen King on his drug-induced shizowrittings doesn't, if that's what you're hinting at.

Writing might be a creative art but unless you're writing a slash fanfiction on ao3 it's better to do at least minimal planning. That or just write romance, or anything that is happening in our world. Way easier and way less possibilities to softlock your story. Fantasy is hard to write.
What's kind of crazy to think about is Tolkien didn't plan out LotRs. Yes he had been "working" on it since college in creating the languages and history of the world in myths and legends for most of his life but there is no outline or plot points. He synthesized all of it into what became the second best selling book of the 20th century and the best fantasy series ever written. In my book that's up there on the list of most impressive creative endeavors in human history.

To bring it back to JK, she set out to write a children's series at the start. She wrote 3 good to very good children's books. Then she transitioned to YA, and the things that get a pass in children's books don't in YA. It took her a book and a half to work those things out, and by the time she wrote a good YA book she only had one book to finish her series which is why the 7th is a mess.

She's a victim of her own success really. Almost tragic.
 

Boris Blank's glass eye

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Perhaps the die was cast when Rowling vetoed the idea of Spielberg directing the series; she made sure the series would never be mistaken for a work of art that meant anything to anybody?
Spielberg was already losing his touch by the time the Potter books were adapted.
Besides, IIRC her stipulation was that everyone involved had to be a 'bong.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

Because the world is SO BAD, like diet soda.
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Though I've been dogging on the Harry Potter books in this thread, I don't really think that they're that bad, they're just overrated. They're a fun and whimsical read (except the last book is a bit of a mess) and while I have many complaints about the series (the bad guys are the wizard KKK, really?), she did do many things right and in many ways Harry Potter is a nice little escapist fantasy. It does NOT deserve still being obsessed over today--I blame dumb basic Millennial white girls for that, they never grew up. They were way better written than Goosebumps books and better than later Animorphs books. By comparison to other popular children's/YA at the time they were really good.

What's interesting about the books is that it reinforces the idea that adults aren't always right, and it takes a very skeptical look at some authority figures and bureaucracy. Usually kids books tell you to just obey your parents, or there is some lesson about kids not obeying authority, but the HP books turns that on its heads. There's also elements of torture that you don't often see in YA books.

Someone earlier mentioned that Harry himself isn't really that special and that's actually another point in favor of the books; so often the main character kid in YA has all these incredible powers, and Harry ends up just being sort of average at most things and just being really good at sports.

People have already mentioned the flaws of the books, and I'll add another--how it sort of veers into "morally gray" territory at times but then goes right back to complete black-and-white good-and-evil nonsense.

I view them as book forms of really fun Saturday morning cartoons.
 

SimoH

Scalie household
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I have never really thought about the books TOO in depth, but I grew up reading them and they have a special place in my heart. Just, shame that JKR has tried so hard to ruin it.
If anything, I think that one of the most interesting things for me, was the evolution and change of tone that the series had as the books progressed. It started as the little adventure of Harry and his friends, and magic is fun and what not and it ends up being quite grim, with corrupt government, people dying everywhere, important secondary characters getting killed and just a real sense of danger within the main group, now that they have finally need to put an end to Voldemort.

But it's probably hard to judge it objectively nowadays since I'll always have the "nostalgia" glasses for it. It's no masterpiece but I guess it has its place.
 

Crichax

Repented Before The Emperor
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I think the magic in Harry Potter works perfectly fine for what it is. And it's not just the setting people like, it's the characters. While they are fairly simple, they work well and are fun to read about and watch on screen.
 

Cardenio

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I remember reading this Grant Morrison quote years ago and thinking it was a dumb observation.
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Now it just sticks into my head when fucking nerds want to whine and whine that products made for children fail to live up to their heads. Please, shut the fuck up already. No one cared that the Holdo Manuever in The Last Jedi fucks up lore. Yes Quidditch is a nonsensical sport shut the fuck up. It's time to put on the big boy pants and read actual books. But ya won't because even movies made before 1980 are just too slow for you.
 

William Tell Underpass

#ApplesForHobos
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She did a sufficient about of world building to connect ours to theirs with her early emphasis of culture wizard figures like salem witches and merlin. (Lazy or smart it works)

Also the early PC games did a lot in the respect of making the world seem bigger with the collectables being all different random wizards and what they r famous for on chocolate frog cards.

All in all she made a good start with the first book making a world to expand on (First books almost never makemore than a shallow world, but it very quickly became evident that the appetite for harry potter was not for the world but the characters and the world is just spin, and by the third book the world was entirely subbordinate to the character interactions.

ever piece of world building we get after about book 3 is a plot device or excuse for character interaction, the most obvious example is the thestrels which exist only to emphasise harrys personal angst, expose trauma in other characters to deepen them, and create reasons for characters to interact with eachother on a personal level like harry and luna lovegood.
 
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Exterminate Leftists

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You have to wonder about the adult that finds enjoyment in media designed for children. This website probably wouldn't exist without them though
 
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Naamaleipuri

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Thank you all!
Now I get it!
Harry Potter is basically an Isekai anime without the badass stuff or cute girls.

I think next time I babysit my cousins kids, I'll just start with Narnia. Those were perfectly decent children's fantasy books right?
 
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