Sunday, February 24, 2013

Novel Writing: The Seven Potters

As I was writing my ebook on story ideas today, I quickly reread a section of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in search of a quote I needed to use for one of my points.

In my search for the sentence, I ended up re-reading the full chapter The Seven Potters (because I like reading that scene) when a curiosity struck me that I have never considered previously: why did J.K Rowling have all the characters take polyjuice potion and turn themselves into Harry Potters?

Wouldn't it be more logical - seeing as the Order believed that Voldemort had fallen for their false trail that they were shifting Harry at a later date (yeah right, as if anyone would believe that), that in their misguided belief that they could fool Voldemort and the Death Eaters using decoys - that they would actually achieve a better result and not risk as many lives if they instead polyjuiced Harry into someone else, someone not worthy of the Death Eaters and Voldemorts consideration?  I mean, immediately, Arabella Figg, Harry's neighbour comes to my mind because she is conveniently located, a squib (who Voldemort would overlook but is capable of seeing Dementor's, unlike Muggles), and is a member of the Order of the Phoenix (sort of).

Why have so many Order members turning themselves into Harry - whose face is so recognizable to his enemy and is guaranteed to cause an attempt on his or his imitator's life - in order to effect his escape?

I've never had reason to criticize the Harry Potter books previously, but now that I've considered there was a much better way of getting him out of there, it has sort of dampened my enjoyment a little (but only a little).

In my mind's view, I see this alternative as a good way of tricking Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and that the Order's deception of doing a Barty-Crouch style switcharoo with an insignificant (to the Death Eaters) decoy could be implemented any time prior to Harry turning seventeen (up to the hour before).

Imagine, Mad-Eye Moody, Kingsley and Mr Weasley enlist Arabella Figg to pose as Harry for a day or two, and on the day the Dursley's leave, Harry to could escape without detection at all by simply leaving before or after the Dursley's disguised in plain sight as his batty old neighbour.  While the Death Eaters patiently keep up their watch (from their distance because of the spell keeping them from getting any closer), they see Arabella Figg, Hestia, Dedalus, Mad-Eye, Kingsley and Mr Weasley enter the house, they later see each of those people plus the three Dursley's leave, and are confident the real Harry alone inside, available for them to still attack the moment the charm breaks the instant Harry becomes seventeen or the Order come back to try to relocate him beforehand.  Meanwhile, the polyjuice-disguised Harry returns to his neighbours house, where he is then able to be taken by side-along Apparation to his safe house by whoever has been entrusted to get him there (I would suggest Moody or Kingsley would be most likely to have this responsibility - so whichever one it is wouldn't enter the Dursley house).

No, or much less, risk to his best friends or the Order members.

Given that polyjuice potion needs to be taken on the hour every hour in order to remain disguised, both Harry and Arabella could have resumed their normal appearances just as, from their Disapparation points, they knowingly and willingly break the charm protecting Harry and the Dursleys from Voldemort.

I seriously loved the Seven Potters concept - until now.

I loved the 'chase scene' and that J.K Rowling ruthlessly killed off Hedwig (who my daughter absolutely sobbed uncontrollably about the first time she read it) and Moody.  George losing his ear, Snape secretly protecting him, but for a long time everyone that was there that night believing he was the one casting the horrible Sectumsempra spell that caused George to lose his ear because Lupin pointed the finger Snape's way saying, "He lost his hood during the chase.  Sectumsempra was always a speciality of Snape's.  I wish I could say I'd paid him back in kind, but it was all I could to keep George on the broom after he was injured, he was losing so much blood."

I guess my more logical Order member escape planning would have ruined too many parts of the rest of the story - Snape being revealed as not such the villain at the end, removing Hedwig whose snowy-white appearance would give Harry's location not matter where he safe-housed away, and killing off the next Order leader following Dumbledore's passing.

Writer's are often advised to Kill your Darlings, meaning, not to be come so attached to your own ideas and words that you don't cut scenes and words that should be cut.

Do you think J.K Rowling seized at a great concept of having seven Harry Potters that she didn't kill her darlings, at the expense of lacking logic and good reasoning by some key characters?  Would love to read your comments!

Update  5 May 2013  I'm still working on writing this alternative scene to post as a free making progress (slower than wanted, but better than no progress).

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