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This essay is a brief look at some of the ways in which spell names are transformed into verbs and other vernacular forms in the Harry Potter books. "Verbing," as it is cutely named, is a common practise in spoken English, although verbed nouns are often counted as slang or nonstandard when they first appear, many eventually make it into the dictionaries because of their wide use. For example, a bus is a vehicle for transporting people. We now have the verb "to bus," meaning to transport people via bus. "They bused the students from the closed school to another facility."

By way of introduction to my background, I am a professional writer and editor, and my college degree is in Linguistics, so I think about this sort of thing a lot. I started looking into this when some other writers and I were chatting one night, and one of them thought my use of the made-up verb "Legilimise" was odd. I argued that J. K. Rowling herself set the precedent for the verbing of spell names, but I only recalled it being in dialogue, as if it could be slang or vernacular idiom. A look at the books tonight, though, shows that the narrative itself uses some forms, too.

Here are the data points I looked at tonight. I am using American editions, though my own spelling may be somewhat British since I'm just used to that when writing about HP. (Go figure.)

Summoning, being Imperiused, and Stunning versus Stupefying )
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Here's the essay...

Five Keys To Writing Post Deathly Hallows Harry/Draco
By Ravenna C. Tan

Written for the "Fandom Opinion" segment of Slashcast, which podcast can be heard here:

Well, HD-shippers, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that the epilogue exists, and we know Draco didn't end up with Harry after all. The good news is that given the ages of the children in the epilogue, there's a good 6 to 7 years right after Voldemort's fall when Harry and Draco could have been having a torrid post-war affair. This interregnum is just one of the many gifts JK Rowling gave to us HD-devotees in Deathly Hallows, including that lovely tandem boom ride rescue.

If you're going to write what I'll call H/D Interregnum Fic, though, here are the five questions I feel I need to answer for myself, either in the story or in the background of the characters I use when writing it, even if the answers don't make it to the page. (Though they usually do...)

Number One... )
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Here is a rather rambling essay on magic in the Harry Potter universe, based on my readings on the books with some hints from author interviews and the like. These are subjects I've struggled with and played with in my fic, which is why it matters to me what the difference is between conjuring and transfiguration, et cetera.

The Working of Magic in the Potterverse

What is magic? In J.K. Rowling's world of wizards and witches, "magic" carries the trappings that Muggles (mundanes) are familiar with. The magic wand, witches flying on brooms--even a version of the magic words "abra cadabra" (though of course they have a more sinister meaning in the books!). But how does it work? What are the limitations? And is she consistent throughout the series?

At its most basic, what "magic" is in the Harry Potter books is the natural ability of a magical person or being (witch, wizard, house elf, goblin) to make changes in the world by sheer force of will. This power, however, has limitations--not every wizard can perform every spell nor instantly remake the world to his liking. Nature and the natural world have some inherent magical properties which the wizard draws on, and magic itself exists independent of wizards' ability to use it.
and on to the essay... )
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I am finally getting around to archiving my long, plotty Snarry D/s fic, "Hero Worship." This is the top!harry, sub!snape one I posted in November.

It's now all up at Skyehawke, aqui: http://archive.skyehawke.com/story.php?no=14661

And the final "chapter" (#26) is the author's notes that I had not gotten around to writing at the time.

They are not hugely extensive, but if you haven't read the fic yet, don't read these as they WILL spoil the story for you. If you *have* read the fic:

have at... )

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Things that drive HP slash writers (or at least me) to distraction:

1. Just how many layers of robes does Snape wear? Would it take so long to get through them that I need to invent a disrobing charm?

2. Where the heck do Harry's glasses end up during sex, anyway? And wasn't someone holding a wand?

3. Is the Dark Mark visible all the time or only at certain times? And if it's visible, do I have to mention it or can I just ignore it?

4. Is there anything in the canon that would make a decent lube, or do I have to use a lubrication charm? (Bundimun secretion, eww!)

5. Now that Voldemort is reborn in physical form, are his genitals as different as his face?

6. Is it a cliché to have Sirius and Lupin do it doggie-style?

7. Is Draco blond all the way down and is it obligatory to mention freckles in any Weasley-centric fic?

8. Is it cheating to write that Silencing Charms can be put on bed curtains, or is it waaaay too nitpicky to point out that in canon only living things can be Silenced?

9. What if Snape's hair really is just greasy?

10. And dammit, I still haven't figured out where Harry's glasses are.
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I'm still in Anaheim (not flying home until tomorrow morning) but just got email from [livejournal.com profile] gatewaygirl that she and I have both made it into this year's [livejournal.com profile] merry_smutmas! So did [livejournal.com profile] kyuuketsukirui and a whole slew of my favorite fic writers. Yay! Huzzah! I am psyched.

Capped off my program participation yesterday on a panel called "Harry Potter goes Forth," in which the panelists (and audience) speculated on what will happen in Book Seven. Some folks were very attached to their hoped-for endings or the interpretation of HBP that they prefer. I find that as a fic writer, I'm not married to any particular outcome. I've written it so many different ways myself that I can see many different possibilities.

Overall, everyone on the panel thinks Snape and Dumbledore were working together when Snape killed him (as did most of the audience), no one thinks Harry is going to turn out to be a horcrux (though I think the "connection" with Voldemort will still come into play), and we pretty much all agree Dumbledore will play a part in book seven, but that he won't be pulling a "Gandalf." We also all think that despite what Harry says, that he will be back for his seventh year at Hogwarts. (One simply can't just break the formula of the previous 6 books.)

I've always wondered, when Harry and Dumbledore go to the cave, Dumbledore appears to know what to expect each step of the way. Harry never questions this nor wonders how Dumbledore has this knowledge about the potion and so forth. Why does Harry have to be there? He helps Dumbledore to drink this horrible potion. Why Harry? Panelist Eric Van opined that first of all Snape is the one who created the potion, and second that the potion's use somehow mutes or changes the effects of Avada Kedavra. The potion must be drunk in the presence of or with the support of someone who loves the person who drinks it, which is why Harry must be there. Eric believes the potion's effect is that when Snape kills Dumbledore, instead of sending him to the beyond that most people go to, he instead goes where Sirius went, beyond the veil, and where Harry will end up with some limited access to him (and Sirius) in book seven.

One of the other panelists, an English professor at San Jose State named Valerie Frankel (who wrote a G-rated Harry Potter parody, Henry Potty and the Pet Rock) had a theory that Harry will NOT end up with Ginny. She's a scholar on the topic of the "hero's journey" and typically the hero of this type of epic doesn't get to settle down with the girl at the end. But Rowling sometimes bucks tradition in her narrative, so I think the odds are still open on that one...
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Well, some nice person inside the hotel has set up their own wireless network, so I am logged in through some random kindness (thanks "deepthot" whoever you are). I have a free moment between panels and setting up for a party so I'm posting.

Earlier today I spoke on a panel on "The Slytherin Question," i.e. why do we have a house for dark wizards, anyway? The moderator, Hilari Bell, came up with a suggestion just before the panel, which is that we, the panelists, should pose as a panel of professors debating whether Slytherin House should be abolished, with the audience as the Wizarding public. We went for it of course. I took the part of Galatea Gullwing (the potions professor in Tempus), though I modified her to be a Ravenclaw for the purpose of the discussion. (There were four of us, one from each House). Hilari became Professor "Humbledore, Dumbledore's humble replacement," Kevin Murphy became Magnus Murphy, professor of hexes, curses, and lycanthropology, and Jean Lorrah became Lorelei Janus, professor of spellcasting and glamours.

My assertion is that Salazar Slytherin was motivated to help found a school for wizards a thousand years ago because that was the age when the Wizarding world was going underground/separating from the Muggle world. Merlin was the last publicly known wizard in Britain, and with Muggle civilization on the rise, Slytherin (and the other founders as well), knew it was time for an organized system to educate young wizards to join Wizarding society. My speculation is that this is why Hogwarts was founded in the first place, because that was the time of transition.

Dear old Salazar wanted to educate only the pure-blooded (and probably close Wizarding society to all but the purebloods, as well), whereas the others had their own ideas, and what one ends up with is a mix of the brave, cunning, intelligent, and hard-working. In the 900 years that preceded Voldemort, how was Slytherin seen? When Harry arrives, the house has a reputation as being the only house to produce the dark followers of Voldemort, but also as the elite. Slytherin expects to win the house cup every year. Slytherin students, by their achievements, do earn positive points. They are clearly not a house of criminal malcontents, much as members of other houses would like to paint them as such.

So you have a group who feel themselves superior, but who are reviled by the others. Isn't that a win-win situation? When it comes time to blame someone, wouldn't the Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Gryffindors like to have a house they can point the finger at? Someone has to be reviled, after all. (Think: New York Yankees). Snape is the ultimate Slytherin because he can take the heat. He doesn't care that others think him the bad guy--he has his own opinions and his own moral sense. (Nor surprisingly, the majority of the audience believe that Snape will turn out to be a good guy in book seven).

I'm on another panel on Saturday which is to be all speculation about what happens in Book 7. More later!
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Okay, so, not to be too self-indulgent or wankful (I hope), but may I pimp the community [livejournal.com profile] hpwriterschoice? It's a fairly new rec community where currently writers can post a discussion of their own "favorite fic." I picked "Amnesia" and if you want to read my blather about the story it's here.
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Ten Questions About Draco Malfoy

I find myself considering certain things about Draco's character in every fic I write about him. Some of them come from canon, others from fanon, but which have to be taken into account. Draco can be shaped in so many different directions, from heroic to hedonistic, from bitter to benevolent, from conniving to competent. These are the "settings" that determine what kind of Draco I get, and what kind of plot follows.

Ten Questions About Draco Malfoy )
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First off, I'm hoping that my LJ backdating problem is over and that people can actually read this post in their f-lists like normal. If you missed my cross-post of my latest 100 Quills fic, it's a one-shot entitled Captivitas. NC-17, Half-Blood Prince Spoilers. Takes place toward the end of that book. Harry and Draco are both 16 at the time. Warning for rough sex with questionable motives.

And now a bit of meta. Reading [livejournal.com profile] calanthe_fics' recent post of chapter nine of "Big Dick, Come Quick" got me to thinking about Ginny Weasley.

Ginny takes a lot of lumps from slash writers who have made her a target because she is a heterosexual love interest of Harry's. I've often thought her role in the books was to provide another strong female character besides Hermione. As a Gryffindor and a Weasley she can be woven into the plot more often than a Ravenclaw like Luna Lovegood, or someone not in Harry's year like bit-player Katie Bell. But looking at Ginny's actual characterization within the canon, and the development of the Harry-Ginny story line, I find some justification for the harpy!ginny so often depicted in fanon.

A detailed look at Ginny's role in HBP, Harry's chest-monster, and more... )
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Aaaaah! I'm being driven insane by the fact that I can't remember whether "mudbloods" should be capitalized or not. Now, you might say that I am going too far in sticking to the canon by trying to get the copyediting details right. But, dammit, there is a right and a wrong way to do things in writing and publishing, and if we're going to have a canon, which we do, I feel I ought to conform!

Which means conforming to a moving target, since the early US releases of the Harry Potter books were much more Americanized than the later ones. (My god, I hope they are paying the copyeditor well, or that they reserved a nice padded room for her...) It appears that British English has many more standardized capitalizations in its usage than American English--not to mention the fact that maybe J. K. Rowling just likes to capitalize.

Thus far I've identified the following things in the books that I don't, but should, capitalize:

Names of School Subjects: hence Arithmancy, Transfiguration, Muggle Studies, etc...

Quidditch: why should Quidditch be capitalized when British English doesn't seem to capitalize "cricket" or the names of other sports? Maybe for the same reason that in the Wizarding World they still wear robes?

Invisibility Cloak: er, is there a trademark on that brand name?

Names of Potions: like Felix Felicis, and Polyjuice.

Spells, such as The Imperius Curse, Muffliato, Liberacorpus, etc. (Oh, and they should be italicized, too, if they are in their incantation form. So "The Imperius Curse" would not be italic, but Imperio! would.)

And meanwhile, I keep capitalizing "Common Room" when in fact, in the books, this phrase is NOT capitalized. WTF?

I'm clearly just a failure at sticking to the canon.


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