IMR | Oh My God, Harry, SHUT UP

the short story
That moment when you want to replace the name “Hermione” with “Harry” in the following gif:hermione shut up

the long story
I recently started Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (a.k.a. HPMoR).

Now, you might be thinking, Wait, which book is that? I don’t remember waiting in line for that Harry Potter book.

That’s because it’s not. It’s fanfiction.

Ravenclawsam recommended me HPMoR and I have to say it’s pretty brilliant. The premise is this: Harry is willingly adopted by Petunia and her university professor husband when his parents died. As a result, Harry is brought up to be an intelligent eleven year old with a thorough knowledge of natural science and psychology when a letter arrives via owl inviting him to study at Hogwarts.

In simpler terms, this is Harry Potter if wizards acknowledged that science exists. If Harry Potter was Ender Wiggin. Or Sheldon Cooper.

What’s interesting is that of all the characters, only Harry is the one who is different from canon. This leads to unthinkable encounters where Harry befriends Draco Malfoy with promises of space travel, bullies Neville as a sort of positive conditioning, and dislikes Ron for his apparent stupidity. (Even though we all know that Ron is always right.)

Harry knows a lot of theories that I don’t, so it’s nice that there’s a brief explanation for them. But this introspective and inquisitive version of Harry is insufferable on one trait alone: He doesn’t know how to shut up.

And when I say “shut up”, I don’t mean just talking. He can’t stop thinking.

It doesn’t feel like infodumping, but certainly is more telling than showing. While it fits with Harry’s new characterization—it’s just plain annoying at times.

And it made me think: are we as storytellers limited by the voices we can use as narrators? Narration is a tricky thing–it must describe all the particulars without dialogue, but still keep the reader engaged. That means minimal infodumping, keeping the reader connected, being descriptive when describing people and setting and emotions.

Are we limiting ourselves in terms of storytelling because of these requirements? Is that why stories tend to sound the same?

And can Harry shut up, please?


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