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Chapter 29 of Shifts ("That Freak Place") went up at the Quill.… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Chapter 29 of Shifts ("That Freak Place") went up at the Quill. Minor tweaks, spelling fixed, etc. Nothing earthshattering.

I've been thinking about accusations of "cliché" scenarios--final battle, Petunia has a deep secret, Neville's memory is wonky because someone did a charm on him after he saw his parents tortured, other things like that, things that lots of people have done, to a point where they read as clichés, but which I would argue don't deserve to be treated that way.

When addressing a negative fanon cliché, it tends to be something that's bounced around fandom, has no particular basis in canon, and isn't related to issues raised by the books. In the case of the kinds of scenarios above, the second two problems are entirely moot and the first may or may not have any influence on it.

Yes, it's true that "Petunia has a dark secret" is a hook that's been used in a lot of existing fanfics, but someone who uses it in a story hasn't necessarily picked it up from other fanfics. It might have been, it might not have been; the handling of it is the real test. It's a scenario that can easily be arrived at independently.

In other words, it has a basis in canon and is related to issues raised by the books. The same is true of the "final battle scenario" and Neville's memory and any number of other things that fic writers are prone to writing. A lot of them strike me as things that are actually likely to happen in canon... should a fic writer be penalized for guessing canon right? Should JKR be penalized when she writes it because people figured out a scenario that made sense in terms of what she'd already written?

Any time you're working with the canon storyline (as opposed to a romance subplot or an AU or whatever), you're going to be speculating on things based on what's there in the existing text. Starting fresh, there are things that would tend to come to the surface. Harry's gathering a group of allies; Voldemort is regathering his allies (and possibly recruiting new ones). It's a sensible guess that these groups will come into conflict with one another at the climax of the story. It's not necessary that it's so, but it's a highly sensible guess, and therefore it appears in a lot of fics if they happen to deal with the end of the war. Petunia has some curious behaviors, gets odd letters from Dumbledore saying "Remember my last," and is the sister of Harry's mother... nothing absolutely says that there's more to her than meets the eye, but it's sure not an odd guess. And so on, and so on.

Scenarios that can be arrived at by rational extrapolation of existing canon--things that could and might actually happen in books six and seven--are fair game and logical guesses, not clichés, at least not in the sense of being the lazy writer's easy grab off the plot shelf.

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Comments
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: April 19th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)
In my opinion, they aren't cliches if the author has developed them into actually meaning something more than, "I needed to make a reason to pity Petunia/Neville/&c."

Would write more, but very tired. (Six hours of driving to look at colleges.)
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: April 19th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Not a cliche: Petunia has a secret.

Cliche: Harry and Draco are stuck somewhere together and UST ensues.

Pretty simple, I agree. :)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: April 19th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
As straussmonster said, there's a fine line between doing a familiar plot twist and doing what everyone else did *with* it. Yes, loads of people have given Petunia a backstory - why is that a bad thing?
sreya From: sreya Date: April 19th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Here Here!

Another in that vein, which we don't see as often anymore, was Harry as the Heir of Gryffindor. Yes, it was FAR overused in fanon, and has since been more or less debunked by JKR. But early on, it was a reasonable extrapolation from canon. We have an heir of Slytherin who is central to the story, Harry's babyhood home was Godric's Hollow, and he pulls Gryffindor's sword from the Sorting Hat. And before we had The Prophecy, there was open speculation on why Voldemort would go after Harry to kill him. The fact that he off'd James, and then told Lily to step aside could lead someone to reasonably think there was something about the Potter line that played into the situation.

Hmm. That was a babble. Anyway, I agree that logical extrapolations from canon shouldn't be considered "cliches" simply because many people reach the same conclusions. At times they may be as annoying as cliches, but they're a different beast altogether.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: April 19th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)
oh alalalalaaa i see the warnigns alread
warnings: frequently used canon speculation..
mafdet From: mafdet Date: April 19th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you. Canon gives us clues, and being the observant readers we are, many of us are going to jump to the same conclusion. Though I personally think that Neville's poor memory is due to his being traumatized, not Memory Charmed, I can see where someone else might draw that conclusion because it is a possibility.

As for Petunia harboring a dark secret? JKR practically hands that to us on a platter. We don't know what it is, but it's very reasonable to conclude that there is more to Petunia than meets the eye. JKR has said as much herself.

The cliches I hate are the ones that spread through fanon like wildfire without much (or any) support from canon, and become just a tired old plot device. Example: Draco and Hermione, or Harry, have to work on a Speshul Seekrit Project (Potions, Ancient Runes, whatever) that only they can do. I don't have to tell you what happens next. That is a Bad Fanon Cliche.

Ron the Freckled Satan is another bad fanon cliche. It's bad because there is no indication that Ron is a mouth-breathing, evil, Death Eater in training who will betray Harry and beat up Hermione. It's mostly used by writers who want Ron out of the way but don't have the faintest idea of going about it in a believable way.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: April 19th, 2005 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
right right right o uare.
fanon canon, clechay *shrug* I don't care what is and what isn't and what should and shouldn't any more. If I read a story I like, I'll just like it no matter if it starts with the nth potions accident scenario or spell gone wrong or dark secret. When I see stuff like that in summaries it sometimes doesm ake me yawn softly or go 'there we have it again' .but everyone has a right to write what they enjoy to write or read.
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: April 19th, 2005 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Petunia's secret

I can't help but think that this was somewhat inspired by my post on the Quill about the "Jaded Reveiwer", since you specifically mention the Petunia's secret bit.

I kind of wanted to explain what Petunia's secret was, although I hardly consider it hers alone. I don't think Petunia has a deep, dark secret of her own, like she's a squib or Snape is her brother or any of those other ideas without support in canon. I'm trying to write a sixth-year story that is as true to canon as possible and which attempts realistic explanations to many of the existing mysteries. So the "secret" the reviewer was referring to was actually an attempt to explain the letters Petunia has received from Dumbledore, the "Remember my last" line, Petunia's apparent knowledge and fear of Voldemort, Petunia's hatred of wizards and her sister, and, most importantly, why Harry's maternal grandparents were already dead at a relatively young age. So I found one answer that would explain all of that to some extent - the Evans parents were killed by Death Eaters. Obviously there's a bit more to it than that, but that's the gist of it. It astounded me that a reviewer would actually label this so-called "secret" as a fanon cliche, because it's rather vital as an explanation for so many mysteries introduced in canon. I have no doubt that others have used this same idea, but I wrote the entire chapter about it not more than a week after I read OotP and most of my reviewers at that time found it to be fairly original and a logical explanation.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 19th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Petunia's secret

I can't help but think that this was somewhat inspired by my post on the Quill about the "Jaded Reveiwer", since you specifically mention the Petunia's secret bit.

Yup, though I couldn't remember whose post it was or which thread it was in!
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: April 19th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thread

It was the "Receiving Negative Reviews" thread in the Pensieve. And thank you, by the way, for supporting me on that.
From: greenwoodside Date: April 19th, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you on most of those counts - although I do regard the final battle scenario as a cliche. It seems out of step with the message of the Harry Potter books so far. Partly because I think Books Six and Seven will involve Harry et al not making the same mistakes of the MWPP generation - an orgy of violence, in that case, would be inappropriate - and also because a final battle wouldn't fit with the message of the books. For Voldemort to be destroyed in a final battle, JKR would be telling us that abilities matter more than choices and that might makes right.

So, basically, it doesn't seem to me to be a rational extrapolation of canon.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 19th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
But to not have it in some form would make the alliances and maneuvering on both sides pointless. The violence doesn't seem to be the error of the MWPP generation... we don't really know what their problem was, because we haven't seen how that war went. For all we know, their problem was that they didn't do anything pro-active and only sat there responding to Voldemort's moves. That seems to be the gist of what we've heard so far--that they formed too late, were always outnumbered, and didn't get public support.
From: greenwoodside Date: April 19th, 2005 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
...I don't know. I'm using the term "final battle" in reference to those fics wherein there is a literal battle, generally taking place on the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch ;), in which large numbers of main and minor characters get the chop. Voldemort is generally killed through beheading, Avada Kedavra and so on.

As to a lack of violence being pointless - well, I'd rather disagree with you there since I do not believe violence to be the point of the HP series. The Sorting Hat states, in OotP, that to win it will be necessary for all the Houses to unite. Something they manifestly failed to do in the MWPP era. The characters of the time - the current generation's echoes - had versions of the "fatal flaw" found in tragic heroes - Remus likes to be liked, James was arrogant, Sirius rash, Snape bitter - which prevented them from getting rid of Voldemort. They were only able to postpone the conflict, paying for it with the deaths of James and Lily.

It consequently falls to Harry's generation to avoid the faults of their predecessors, to unite with Slytherin etc. But if they manage to do this - as, of course, they will - it will still be a failure if the Book Seven ends with a blood bath.

And I've put my points very sketchily here because I'm in a hurry, and thank you for your indulgence if they make no sense.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 19th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
As to a lack of violence being pointless
That's not what I said--the final battle doesn't necessarily have to be heavy violence on the Quidditch pitch, but it is a major confrontation involving all the allies on both sides, not just a conversation between Harry and Voldemort, in which Voldemort is convinced, a la Nicholas Flamel, to give up his particular brand of magic. It becomes quite pointless to build up all the alliances if they aren't going to come into conflict at some point. The fact that they are being built necessitates a major confrontation of some kind at the climax.
From: greenwoodside Date: April 19th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that a confrontation is necessary. By battle, I assumed that a typical battle was what was meant. I'm sorry if I'm mistaken.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 19th, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assume when people are complaining about a final battle they're complaining about a final confrontation between the two sides--a final battle. I think where the unity comes in is pulling in people aside from the Gryffindor daredevils to be on the team that fights Voldemort's people, not that there won't be one hell of a fight.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: April 19th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
When addressing a negative fanon cliché, it tends to be something that's bounced around fandom, has no particular basis in canon, and isn't related to issues raised by the books.

The Cupid's Quidditch Supplies Memorial Foundation says, "Hear, hear!"
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