Category Archives: Characterization

Harry Potter and Characterization

Harry Potter

 I’m so sad.  In my efforts to deny that the Harry Potter movie saga has ended I delayed watching the second half of “Deathly Hollows” for months.  I bought it the day it came out and watched it – finally – I couldn’t delay any further.  But, I was sad.

 I, along with millions, have had a relationship with these books, movies and actors for a decade.  It is truly the end of era (metaphorically).  J.K. Rowling created something special, something that changed our world forever.  Pretty freaking note-worthy, if you ask me.

And how exactly did she and Harry Potter accomplish this?  By being ‘brilliant’. 

 The story is complex and compelling to be sure, but what I think held us all captive for a decade is the characters.  They joined our families, became part of our lives.

 Look at any one of the characters and tell me they aren’t a three dimensional believable person.  Even the really, really minor ones have depth.  No one’s all good or all bad.  Harry may be the best Seeker but he can’t dance.  Ron is completely loyal but even he got jealous and fought with Harry.  Draco doesn’t want to kill Dumbledore, doesn’t really want to be a Death-eater, he just wants to make his dad proud. 

 They have good points and they have flaws.  They have moments of weakness and moments of strength.  They have likes, dislikes, humor, friends, and histories.  They have a rich and varied life that we glimpse gradually throughout the stories. 

 I’m going to pick a side on the character vs plot debate.  Which is more important?  I say character.  Plot is important – it is, yet when I encounter a genius plot, if I don’t have at least one character I love, it makes no difference.  I won’t read/watch.  If, however, there is one or more characters I can love, then the story doesn’t have to have a great plot.  I’ll still read/watch… because I care what happens to those characters.  Rowling had both a great plot and great characters, but I think we love this universe because of the people who inhabit it.   

 As writers, strive to create great characters, but what we should strive for is to create real people, 3D people.  People others can love and root for.  People rich with diversity.  If we can all learn that skill, we will indeed be better writers for it.

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