marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

world building and the typical

There's a serious flaw in one aspect of the world-building of Harry Potter.

We meet Dobby in Chamber of Secrets.  And no other house-elf.  And when we finally meet up with others, we go blink, blink, blink, because it turns out, Dobby is an atypical house-elf.  Delighted to be free.

When we meet up with something we assume it's typical.  (Not just for world-building.  Put a character out on stage, and we assume it's a typical behavior for him.  Introducing a character in an odd moment can take a lot of work to overcome.)

People sometimes have this trouble with hobbits.  The glimpses of hobbits in their normal behavior at the beginning and end of Lord of the Rings doesn't prevent people from thinking of hobbits as beings that go on adventures, when they are in fact stolid, unimaginative, smug, insular, and complacent, and the typical hobbit thinks leaving the Shire, or Breeland, is stupid.  Tolkien's own description of the typical hobbit is to take Sam, and now imagine him without his poetry and his fascination with elves.

This is one reason when it's so hard to write a SF or fantasy mystery.  How are we to know that's a discrepancy and so a clue if it could be just incluing us to the world?
Tags: characterization, genre, world-building: other, world-building: social structure

  • a bee, a wolf, a duck. . . .

    Once yesterday's love interest introduced herself, her part of the story fell together. So I could consider the important part of the story, where…

  • defining the superhero genre

    It has its interesting aspects. For one thing -- well, you can define an epic as a "lengthy narrative poem." You can define a lyric as a…

  • decisions and beginnings

    Two ideas are slowly turning to stories. Setting out to outline the sequel to my Sleeping Beauty take, set when she wakes up. I don't think she's…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded