What I Learned from Pottermore

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All right, I admit it. I’m addicted to Pottermore.com. And since tomorrow is Harry Potter’s birthday, I thought it would be a good time to post this.

For those of you who don’t know, Pottermore.com is the official, online Harry Potter game where you can play your way through the seven books and unlock tons and tons of Harry Potter tidbits that never made it into the series. You can also shop at Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, brew potions, and challenge other players to duels.

And do you know what I learned (aside from the fact that maybe video games aren’t as horrible as I’d always believed)?

J.K. Rowling is the Queen of Backstory. I’m not kidding you.

I mean, I wrote about the intricacies of her worldbuilding already, in this post, and that was before I saw what was on Pottermore. So far I’ve read a list of all the Ministers of Magic (including a short paragraph on each minister, and the dates he/she served), all the winners of the Quidditch World Cup, family histories going back several generations on side characters…and I’m only on the fifth book!

Now, I don’t know how much of this existed during the writing of the books, and how much was supplied for the sake of the game, but still, it is a marvel of planning.

And it’s made me aspire to be better. Already I’m trying to think of extra details that could be added to the SHADOWCATCHERS world. Details on previous Emperors and Empresses, perhaps? More complete lineages of my MCs? The possibilities are endless. And exciting.

But it doesn’t apply just to Fantasies.

I’ve been struggling lately with this revision of my YA Contemporary, and I’ve come to realize that what’s missing is, you guessed it, backstory. I know who my characters are, and how they’d react to the events of the story, but what they don’t seem to have is any history. They pretty much exist purely in the now – and it’s made the story kind of…flat.

So, my homework before revising further is to fill in as much of Em’s history as I can. Once I know more about her past, I can filter in small details to make her a more rounded person, and a more interesting one. Only then can I finish revising her story.

Right, off to flesh out some more backstory (and then maybe onto another round of Pottermore)…

[P.S. If you’re on Pottermore, add me as a friend, ShadowWizard13771 – but don’t challenge me to duels, my head’s not up to them]

[P.P.S. In case you’re wondering, I got sorted into Ravenclaw. Okay, actually, I first got sorted into Slytherin (gasp!) but I figured if HP can choose not to be Slytherin, so can I. So I deleted my profile and redid the sorting quiz a second time. Then I was sorted into Ravenclaw (where I always figured I belonged).]

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4 comments

  1. You should try a conversation with the eldest son. I’m not sure he’s quite aware that the Harry Potter books are amazing and inventive FICTION! At least he hasn’t pushed the car off the roof of the garage trying to get it to fly, so that’s something.

  2. That’s awesome. My daughter’s only six, and I can’t wait to start reading the HP series to her. She has a great sense of what’s real and not, though (always has, as a 2-yr-old she told a 4-yr-old boy not to be scared of a mascot, because it was “just a man in a costume.”) My boys are much more imaginative (they have imaginary grandparents and toys that they won’t believe aren’t real :P)

  3. When you got sorted, did hatstall exist? I recently created a new account, and I got Slytherin/Ravenclaw hatstall. I chose Slytherin.

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