I come from a family where it’s typical for most of us to obsess over certain TV shows, books or movies. One of those things that we love is Harry Potter. Around my mother’s house you will find copies of each book (sometimes more than one), the movies on DVD or VHS, a couple of wands and my mother’s acceptance letter to Hogwarts (apparently you can get those), and a few other knickknacks. Plus two very strange cats. When I told my mom that on Pottermore I’d been sorted into Slytherin, she considered not talking to me for a while (but does that choice surprise any of you?). And at some point soon, my mom and her partner, my stepmom, will be heading down to Florida, where my mom plans to visit Harry Potter World.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re above poking fun at the thing we love or pointing out the flaws. For example, my family is pretty much in agreement that the fact that Harry grew up with the Dursleys and was such a good person despite the abuse and isolation he suffered is very improbable. As I finished the conversation one evening after a long car-ride discussing HP, “At the very least he should have some self-esteem and trust issues. At the very worst he should be a full-on sociopath to rival Voldemort in evil.”
One of these days I’ll have to revisit the trope of the righteous orphan in literature, but now is not the time or the place.
The point is, this small flaw is one of a few that people could point out and make a big deal about in the HP series. In fact, if you look at many different works of literature, TV shows, and movies, you’re bound to find something that doesn’t make sense if you really think about it. Even if you don’t count the prequels, there’s some stuff about the Star Wars films that don’t add up (*cough* Princess Leia’s adoption and royal status *cough*). All of Frozen could’ve been avoided if the King and Queen had actually tried to help their daughter instead of trying to shut up her growing powers (but where would the fun in that be?). And don’t get me started on some of the stuff that happens in some comic books and superhero films. Or Hunger Games.
And there are people who LOVE pointing out these flaws to audience, sometimes making it difficult to enjoy these things ever again. How It Should Have Ended, CinemaSins, Nostalgia Critic, so many more. These guys love deconstructing these things and pointing out their flaws. It’s enough to make you want to root out every plot hole you can find in your story so that you don’t get caught in the web of these guys. Or you might just be too afraid to write at all.
The thing is, no story is perfect. Harry Potter is one of the bestselling franchises in the world, yet it’s not free of flaws. And look at Doctor Who! I’m a huge Whovian, yet I’ll admit that it sometimes falters in the stories it tells (honestly, I thought I’d throw a shoe at the TV after I saw Kill the Moon. What an awful story that makes no sense!). Heck, I’ll admit I have stories that aren’t problem-free. The latter half of Snake has been criticized in the past of being slightly a little hard to justify (though not outside the realm of possibility). And if I learned one thing from my creative writing class, my short stories “Evil Began in a Bar” and “What Happened Saturday Night/Frauwolf”, will need several drafts. Heck, the latter is going to need one more draft before I can even think about submitting it somewhere. Don’t even get me started on the former.
What you have to keep in mind is that you can’t stress over the teeniest, tiniest detail and hoping there’s not something some blogger or YouTube producer or whatever is going to seize upon and make it into a reason to destroy the book. First worry about the big stuff. For example, if you have a plot that basically goes “In a world everyone has a gun but no one uses them, until someone does”, people are going to definitely look at that one and be like, “Say what?” Hash out the big details first. Then worry about the smaller ones. And know that you won’t get them all. Just try and make sure the ones you don’t get are ones that won’t really matter in the end.
Sure, Princess Leia’s adoption would probably draw some questions, maybe even the attention of the Empire. Doesn’t mean that it has to draw the attention of the Empire and Leia’s real father Vader. Or that Star Wars isn’t still one of the most awesome stories in the universe (and I count even the prequels, though I’m a little iffy on Episode III).
Keep that in mind for your own work as well. Nothing’s ever perfect, but it can still be great.
That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Hope you enjoyed this slightly-rambling post. I’m taking the rest of the night off. You have a good one, and remember to check out my big holiday sale. All books are marked down till December 31st, so check them out now while you got the chance.