*walks back into the room holding all 7 of the Harry Potter books, the original screenplay of the cursed child and fbawtft, the tales of beedle the bard, Quidditch throught the ages, fantastic beasts and where to find them, all of the dvds for Harry Potter, fantastic beasts and the movie about jk Rowling while wearing all my Harry Potter shirts layered on top of each other, my house scarf, Harry Potter socks and holding a tankard of butter beer and my wand with a time tuner dangling around my neck*
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly unproblematic, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to see in any kind of discourse or drama, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 26th June 1997.
The Harry Potter Series: Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
<b><p></b> <b>me:</b> Harry potter is, like, the gateway fandom. You start reading the books, and suddenly you want to climb ferris wheels instead of ride them, a ball point pen is your weapon, you have a sonic screwdriver and carry salt everywhere, you're awkwardly in love with Sherlock Holmes and you don't really know how any of it happened, but you're pretty sure it started because Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dursley of 4 privet drive were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.<p/><b>friend:</b> * takes earphones out* are you done talking about them yet?<p/><b>me:</b> *opens mouth*<p/><b>friend:</b> *bangs head on table*<p/><b>me:</b> so... as I was saying, hot vampire wizard roommates...<p/></p><p/></p>
Narrative voice is one of those things editors and agents look out for as a sign of raw talent. It’s something people say can’t be taught. Either you have it or you don’t.
This may be true, partly, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make any conscious decisions about your narrative voice.
I love playing around with my voice in different pieces that I write, and I thought I would share some advice on how you could have some fun with your own narrative voice as well.
I would argue that in most novels, about 50% of voice comes from the author’s own voice and natural storytelling abilities. This may change overtime, but mostly it’s just you. Writing as you write. The other 50%, I’d say comes down to writing like your narrator is telling a story to an audience. This means asking yourself two questions.
1. WHO IS TELLING THE STORY?
This is pretty simple in 1st person point of view: know who your character is and let them tell the story. Know what their opinions are. What interests them. The things they like and dislike. If they’re angry or optimistic or scared. If they use slang or speak like a professor. A voice should grow naturally out of that information.
In 3rd person, when your narrator is a non-participant, there are two options:
The first is to tell the story strictly as yourself, in 100% your own voice, and let it change naturally as you suit it to fit your story. This means being confident in your abilities as a storyteller and just telling the story.
The other option is to put on a costume. This narrator is you, but perhaps it is you as a grandfather, or you as a historian, or simply of yourself as someone funnier or wittier than you think you actually are. It’s still your voice. It’s still you telling the story, but you’re drawing out a particular aspect of your voice that enhances the story you’re telling.
This option is more complicated than the others. This is consciously changing your voice. I believe it can be done: that grandfather might help you get into a certain mindset if you want your story to have that kindly touch of “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of Number 4 Privet Drive were proud to say…” Thinking of yourself as a historian might add a formal sort of flare to your high fantasy novel. Believing you’re hilarious may give you the confidence to put sillier elements into your story.
2. WHO ARE THEY TELLING IT TO?
I don’t mean this in terms of who you imagine is going to read your book. That’s a different matter entirely. What I’m talking about here is the narrator’s audience. This is usually just an audience imagined by the author, unless the format of the novel is epistolary or journal entry, or the narrator references them outright. Even so, it can be helpful to remember, however, that every story is told to someone. This can be intentional or unintentional, but it drastically changes how the story is told.
Here are some types of audiences:
Afriend, which means they’re telling the story in an honest and casual manner, as though the reader is someone they trust with their innermost thoughts. I would say this is the most common “audience” for a novel told in the 1st person.
ex. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson
Someone they want to persuade, which depending on their character could mean being unreliable and defensive, or confessional and apologetic. They might be keeping a few secrets about their thoughts and feelings from the reader, and maybe even lying to the reader and/or themselves.
ex. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Historical record, which is not actually for historical record, but a more formal 3rd person that doesn’t focus on interacting with the reader so much as honestly reporting thoughts and events as they occur. I would say that this is one of the most common “audiences” for a novel written in 3rd person.
ex. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
An audience referenced in the text itself. This is a book in full story-telling mode, where a 3rd person narrator both refers to the imagined audience and the fact that they are telling a story directly on the page. This is an older style of storytelling used to be more common than it is today. The imagined audience can be a certain type of reader (children in many classic children’s books). It can also be an audience that only exists in the word of the story itself, like prospective dragon naturalists.
ex. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
ex. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Once you’ve settled these two matters, you have a structure for your narrative voice in place. The rest, depends on your voice as an author, and for that I can only give the following advice:
Read. Pay close attention to the voices of the books you admire, the way the narrative interacts with you as a reader and with the events of the text. Consider why you admire certain storytelling features and how you might implement similar features in your own writing.
Write and write a lot. Every word you put on the page is a choice you’ve made. Every choice you make will hone your voice, completely subconsciously.
Have fun telling your story. Don’t worry about the voice being polished or “good,” just tell the story in a way that’s enjoyable for you. If you’d like, experiment with different styles. Practice telling stories in the voices of people who don’t sound exactly like you. Try on ridiculous costumes. When you have fun telling a story, your reader will have fun listening to it.
No one knew who the tabby belonged to, though they presumed Mrs Figg as the cat had been seen to enter her house. However, it also seemed rather fond of number four’s back garden and the green eyed boy with whom it played most Sunday afternoons when the Dursleys went out. Of course McGonagall would never admit she had a fondness for playing with Harry when she was supposed to be keeping an eye on him.
Harry Potter is like the gateway fandom. You start reading the books, then all of a sudden you have a sonic screwdriver, you want to go to Rivendell, and you have this awkward fascination with Sherlock Holmes. And you don’t really know how any of it happened, but you’re pretty sure it started with Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dursley of Four Privet Drive who were proud to say that they were perfectly normal thank you very much.
seriously….some ppl dont realize how terrible of a life Harry had… treated like garbage by his only living relatives. ive read posts on ppls thoughts on his childhood…
-him being punished for calling Petunia, Mom -getting kicked out of their bed when he has a nightmare and tries to crawl in with them -being told how worthless you are from a young age -never getting anything new, or nice for a gift -never getting proper recognition for the work he does around the house -and just recently… someone posted about when the Dursleys’ realized Harry needed glasses
it just breaks my heart! worse than Cinderella….she had it easy compared to him. she knew the love of a parent, and she didnt have to go back once she found a way out. and she had animal friends! Harry had none of that. he only got friends after he went to Hogwarts. didnt even have a pet. didnt know the love of a parent.
what kills me….is that McGonigal knew what he was in for, and not even as a cat did she visit him, or send him little things….and she was the one that tried to get Dumbledore to send him somewhere else. HELL! she even knew that ONE of his dad’s best friends was still alive, and she didnt get him to go visit Harry in some way.
And now… Mrs. Weasley…. she is the mother of all mothers. she loved harry as if he was her own son from birth! she cud see the physical abuse he was going through, how he was mistreated, underfed, and im willing to bet his subtle actions in her house…if he didnt clean something right away, or if he touched something that wasnt his, and being afraid of getting in trouble. or offending the only ppl that were nice to him.
Now Mrs. Weasley seeing all of this… i am soo shocked that she didnt do something about it. I can totally see her barge into the Dursley’s home and kick the shit out of them! go and check in on Harry at least once a week to see that he was being fed, and still in once piece. Personally bringing him knitted clothes, and homemade goods. Turning her threatening glare on Petunia for being a terrible mother figure to Harry, and Vernon when he tries to tell her off. and both of them just turning white as ghosts, bc we all know there is nothing scarier than an angry momma bear.
Do you think you could describe possible interactions between Sirius and Vernon? :)
man oh man okay. so. sirius has always detested vernon? ever since lily told them that petunia was seeing this walrus of a man who despised magic. so sirius knew right then and there. no one hates on his friends and gets away with it.
so obviously, when lily and james start to get more serious, james finally meets vernon himself. and of course, recounts every single thing back to sirius when he gets home. sirius is livid.
and he never tells anyone, but he transforms into padfoot that night to w r e c k vernon’s garden. lily has her suspicions but she never tells james- she doesn’t want vernon to wake up one night and die of fright when he sees a stag and a dog burrowing holes in his grass
then in the final summer holiday sirius and lily are having their annual lets relax and snooze with our feet up on the sofa, watching tv, eating junk and forgetting about the world (but this time, james is invited too ofc and mary) and there’s a knock on the door, followed by petunia’s screeches of ‘lily why are your freak friends here?’. mary met vernon one time whilst at lily’s (and she’s had to endure a lot of ‘freak’s from petunia), she told sirius what a complete idiot and prejudiced piece of junk vernon was. so of course sirius is curious (and v angry abt how he has treated the three most important people of his life)
so. they’re all sat on the sofa and all share a look of alarm with each other as they hear the door open, petunia’s shrill voice and a very deep voice that’s horrifically posh and rather like a fog horn. sirius cranes his neck to see through the door, almost falls off the sofa and catches vernon gaze as mary and james are having to pull him back up from the floor. vernon just raises an eyebrow at him, turns his nose up and glares. then walks away with petunia.
sirius is already standing up, pushing his shirt sleeves to his elbows ready to fight but they all push him back down and. that night sirius destroys vernon’s rose bush.
the next time they meet is at vernon + petunia’s wedding. of course lily and james are (begrudgingly) invited, so mary and sirius wait by the parking lot to give jily their support. they both came on sirius’s motorbike and when the new mr and mrs dursley leave the church there’s this shiny, fancy black car with white ribbon dressed all over it. of course, the motorbike sticks out like a sore thumb and vernon tuts as they have to pass the bike, talking about how it looks like a piece of rubbish. sirius can’t help but mutter back a rather rude comeback and once again mary has to hold him back before he gives vernon a bloody nose. she calms him down as jily arrive and they all leave.
obviously, lily doesn’t meet petunia much after this. she visits their home on very rare occasions, but when she tells petunia that she’s marrying james lily knows it’ll probably be the last time they meet. sirius tells her they don’t deserve her, that she’s a far better person than they’d ever be, and they spend time talking about siblings and the pain that comes from that.
then it’s october 31st and sirius had actually forgotten all about horrid vernon dursley. but then james and lily are dead and he’s broken beyond repair, and harry is the only thing left of the potter family, of their past, of their legacy. when sirius arrives he sees baby harry there with hagrid and of course gives hagrid his motorbike (he has no use for it, and there are too many memories that remind of him james there. he can’t look at it anymore). he knows harry is going to live with the dursleys. and sirius is apprehensive- he remembers how vernon was and all he can do is pray that he has some sort of mercy on small baby harry.
years later vernon sees a familiar black dog in his garden, and it has those familiar grey eyes of a certain someone who was always hanging around with that potter fellow. he stares at the dog and the dog stares back and vernon just gives him a nod before the dog walks away.
then when sirius meets vernon in the afterlife, after finding out how he treated harry, he gives him that well deserved bloody nose
today the next generation leaves for the very first time. today they watch their parents waving until their figures become small and disappear, steam obscuring the crowd on the platform. today they go off to school to learn about their parents, the survivors, and the heroes buried on the grounds, on the beach, beneath rubble and ash.
and while they’re there, they will learn how to live for those who died, like their parents had to nineteen years ago. they will learn that the world is never safe, not really, and that wars are never easily stopped but they are stopped all the same. they will learn about battles upon battles upon battles, and they’ll cry sometimes, and so will their professors. but they will learn to fall in love– with magic, with life, and maybe with each other.
and they’ll learn about hermione granger and ron weasley, about neville longbottom and luna lovegood, about ginny weasley and draco malfoy. about albus dumbledore and minerva mcgonagall, about severus snape and remus lupin, about sirius black and alastor moody. about the ones who died, and the ones who didn’t, and the ones who are stuck somewhere in between.
and they will learn about him– harry potter, the chosen one, the boy who lived. they’ll follow him through his adventures, gasping in awe when they hear about the philosopher’s stone, the chamber of secrets, the azkaban escapee.
when professor longbottom gets a question about killing nagini, he’ll look down and say it was the hardest thing he’d ever done; when the headmistress gets a question about what fred weasley was like in school, she’ll smile sadly and say he was the happiest boy she’d ever met; and when harry potter comes in to talk, scorpius malfoy will ask him if he has nightmares, and he’ll close his eyes and say, ‘every night’.
they’ll read about the mess of the war and the bodies left behind, about unforgivable curses and secrets and lies. they’ll write essays on peter pettigrew and hazard guesses as to why he did what he did. they’ll all know the incantations for shield charms and patronuses, because their parents whisper them in their sleep at night, brandishing a wand that broke nineteen years ago.
but they will never learn about us.
we, the readers, who walked beside harry in his happiest days and his darkest nights. who played quidditch with him, who cried and raged with him, who lived the war with him. we were there the whole time, cheering him on, wanting to find our own magic, to defeat our voldemort.
and we are still here. we never left.
today the next generation leaves for the very first time, and today a child will open a book and read, ‘mr. and mrs. dursley of number four, privet drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’
and in that moment, they’ll learn to fall in love.