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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
POV in action
I'm the "thread-mom" for the action thread in the SugarQuill's Pensieve section, and I posted a little discussion starter today that I thought it might be fun to post over here as well. HBP-scene discussion about writing.

... Let's work with a canon scene, and different ways to handle it in fanfic. The obvious choice, action-wise, is the battle at Hogwarts, since Harry has to learn about it second-hand, after we know the outcome and everyone has calmed down. But there are all kinds of alternate points of view that could be written on the scene.

In canon, the sequence as related is:

  • Ron, Ginny, and Neville go up to watch the Room of Requirement. An hour later, Malfoy emerges with the Hand of Glory and releases the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, slipping by them.

  • Ron, Ginny, and Neville run into Order members almost immediately and tell them what happened. They find Death Eaters running toward the Astronomy Tower. A fight breaks out, and Gibbon runs for the stairs to set off the Dark Mark. He runs back downstairs and is hit by a Killing Curse that just missed Remus Lupin.

  • Hermione and Luna have been watching Snape's office and don't know what's happening until Flitwick runs down shouting about DEs in the castle. He goes in and Snape Stuns him, then tells the girls to stay and watch him. Snape runs for the Astronomy Tower.

  • The Order is in trouble. Bill has been savaged (timeline unclear) and Neville is hurt. Draco's slipped by them, and more DEs run past, one blocking the stair behind him with a curse (Neville was hurt running at the curse and being thrown). No one can break through until Snape runs up. "The big Death Eater" does a curse which causes the ceiling to collapse and the curse to crumble, and everyone rushes forward. Snape and Draco just pass them. Then the DEs and Greyback (an interesting juxtaposition from Tonx, making me wonder about Greyback's status in Voldemort's organization), and they're fighting again, and Snape shouts "It's over."

  • In Harry's POV, we've also seen the burning of Hagrid's hut and a group of Hufflepuffs in pajamas who don't know what's going on at all, but are hearing things.

What strikes me about this complex sequence in terms of action is what very different stories each person must be living in, and the focus will change for each participant, or at least each major group of participants. Even in re-telling in the calm after the storm, while everyone is focused on Dumbledore's death as the major point, they're all seeing very different moments of importance and experiencing different kinds of emotions. Ron and Ginny appear to be fuming at Malfoy (not unusual), but also dealing with his use of one of the twins' products. Hermione feels stupid and duped. Lupin tries at least once (in regard to Hermione) to make her see things more reasonably, but has also had the most emotionally unguarded moment we've seen from him thus far. Tonx gives straight action narration, focusing on who's been hurt. And one could imagine how utterly conflicted Draco is, or how ravenous Greyback is.

So I guess the theoretical questions are:
Whose POV would you choose to narrate this action sequence in a fic?
Why would you choose it?
What would be the primary focus of the action from that character's POV?
What would be the tone?
And--hey, a total writer question--how, in a snippet of 100 words or less from anywhere in that scene, would you portray that tone?
3 comments or Leave a comment
dalf From: dalf Date: August 7th, 2005 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
If I were to write the scene I would focus on the ones who took the Felix Felicis Potion. We know that harry drank about half of it (I think) so that leaves 12 hours worht split between Ron, Hermione, and Ginny (did Neville and Luna take it too?) If its just the three then we have about 4 hours of potion effect. What happenes to trigger their drinking it? DO they drink it right when Harry leaves or wait until later? Harry can tell when it wears off him how would that change if it happens twrds the end of the battle? Is the resulting overconficend related to Neville running at that curse sheild?

Given that I would probbly write the whole seen with a sort of surreal calm punctuated by frantic or shocking moments (like when bill is hurt). Surreal because even though its chaos and a batle and bad stuff is happeneing with the potion everythgin will seem to them like ... like the right corse of action is obvious. Like they know its goingt owork out. It would be a very strange expirence.

Terror and luck.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: August 7th, 2005 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd choose to do it in Snape's voice. The obvious drawback for doing this would, of course, be that the writer would have to make a decision regarding Snape's true loyalties, and in doing so would invariably piss a number of people of the opposite camp off (or simply leave them indisposed to reading your story)... but since the events of this night would probably come near the *end* of any story, I don't think it would be a big problem.

Another option would be to do a literal-thought narration from Snape's viewpoint.. by which I mean just literally relate everything that Snape does and thinks, but none of this thoughts actually show whose side he is on. This would be a fantastic challenge and probably impossible to do, which is why I'm drawn to it.

As to the more basic question of "Why Snape?" - he is simply the most intriguing character right now, and this chapter is the epicenter of that earthquake of intrigue that HBP set off. (Heh.) There's no character I'd rather be in the mind of during that battle. Again, that raises the minimum standard of work and convincing-ness required to an almost impossible level. Is it very wrong that I'm actually planning out how I'm going to do this in my head?

sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: August 8th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Whose POV would you choose to narrate this action sequence in a fic?

Honestly, instead of focusing on one person, I'd want to cut between several people's viewpoints. The real focus would be the battle itself, and I think the action would be more taut and exciting this way.

If I had to pick one POV only, I'd choose Draco. He's active at every moment and has a clear goal to focus on, and his personal struggle over his task would be interesting to explore. The big problem would be how to write the tower scene so it's not complete plagiarism. It might be better to cut it in some way, maybe from the moment he enters the spell-blocked staircase to the arrival of the other DEs.
3 comments or Leave a comment