Wednesday, 5 February 2014

IWSG - The February edition of Insecure Writer's Support Group - February 2014

Anna Nordeman


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This is my twelfth post for IWSG.

For those who would like to see my list of how-to-write-books, please go here
[If you would like to read my other earlier posts for IWSG, go back to August here, for September here, for October here, for November here, for December here, and for January here.]

For my February edition of IWSG I would like to conclude my discussion of ideas and themes that can be found in children's and fantasy/sf literature, by looking at some inventions found in the Harry Potter books that are NOT likely to become a reality in the future.

Last month, I looked at magical inventions, such as magic wands and the map of Hogwarts, that have counterparts in our world: mobile phones and GPS-maps. of readfaced, a writer of futuristic science fiction novels, lamented that she has to think hard to invent things that do not already exist or will soon exist in our 'magically' electronic world.

One of my favourite charms in the Harry Potter series is the 'Invisible-Extention-Charm', that allowed Hermoine Granger to pack books, medical supplies, clothing and an enormous tent in her tiny beaded bag that went with her party dress for the wedding of Bill and Fleur Weasley, one of Ron Weasley's older brothers (to be found in the film The Deathly Hallows Part I).

The ability to pack large and heavy items in this small, delicate bag, made it possible for Ron, Hermoine and Harry to flee the wedding party when the death-eaters suddenly arrived. In our world, there have been attempts to store clothing in vacuum-pressed plastic bags in order to save space, but there is nothing in our world to compare with Hermoine Granger's beaded bag! 

The idea is simple: it looks small on the outside but is enormously roomy on the inside. The first item, that fits into this category, is the tent that the Weasley family had with them to a Quiddish match in the novel, The Goblet of Fire. Harry is a guest of the Weasleys when they attend a world cup Quiddish match in Ireland. Eight people, six members of the Weasley family, Hermine Granger, as well as Harry Potter, all sleep comfortably in a tent that looks tiny from the outside but is cavernous as soon as you walk inside.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could invent a way of taking everything with you and still not have to carry more than just a small beaded bag? It defies physics and will simply never be! But it is a nice thought, especially when you find that you absolutly must travel or even worse - if you are required to move - and are forced to decide what things to bring with you and what must be left behind, sold, given or thrown away.

This comes close to home for me. Much of my life, I could just acquire more and more possessions, until one day my former husband decided that he did not want to live with me any more. And I was the one who had to move out. But moving from a fancy and very large town house to a smaller dwelling, meant that some things just had to go, and more things are on their way out, as I dig deeper into stacks and stacks of corrigated packing boxes, that still dominate my new home.

Even if it is a practical necessity, the idea of down-sizing my home makes me feel old. It is similar to reading the obituaries and finding more and more acquaintances there. (I remember when my paternal grandmother talked about this. I understand her better now.)

One of the other inventions in the Harry Potter-series that might be interesting to try, is 'The Time-Turner'; but The Resurrection Stone would be too emotionally taxing for me. I don't want to see my departed loved ones knowing that it is only a short visit. (Maybe just to ask a couple of short questions? Excuse me? Where or what or why...?)

But short visits from a ghost from another time is a device or theme that is used in science fiction and other literary genres. Stephen King uses it in the novels, The Shining and A Bag of Bones.

Daphny du Maurier lets the mother of her protagonist appear long after her own death to comfort her son as an adult, in her novel, The Loving Spirit

Another example is to be found in Ian McEwan's novel, The Child In Time (1997).

I don't think any of these events, spells or tools will become a part of the real world in the future. But there are 'messages from the departed' in our world.

I'm thinking of video tapes recorded with messages to children from parents who, for one reason or other, know that they do not have a long time to live. Well, why don't they just write a letter?  A letter to the child as an adult person, whom you will not be able to meet? I'm sure it has been done. Isn't that what a last will and testament is? A legally binding letter of instruction to those you leave behind.

I apologise for ending this post so morbidly. Maybe  I'm just tired of winter.

It's Saint Valentine's Day soon. I wish... I wish...

No. Be careful what you wish for!

Yours faithfully,

This is just an afterthought: An exampel of such a "videotape" recording (before video became available to the general public) was the little box included in the rocket that Superman's biological parents send with him to earth when the planet Krypton is about to blow up. When Clark Kent's adoptive parents tell him that he is adopted and show him the rocket ship that took him to earth, he views this recording and gets to "meet" his real parents who died after they sent him away. This animated film was made 2005 but it looks like the comic book version that I used to read as a child in the 1960s. [Animated] - Last Son of Krypton [DVD] [2005]

First Commenter:
Alex J. Cavanaugh



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In the world of D&D, which I used to play a lot, we called those bags of holding. Yes, they held a lot of stuff and made it possible for adventurers to carry away large amounts of treasure. (Because you're sure not running with two hundred pounds of gold on your back!)

Unknown said...

February 5th, 2014

Dear Alex,

Thank you for stopping by and many thanks for this information. J.K. Rowlings seems to have borrowed from a wide range of sources.

For me, bags of holding were something completely new when I first read the Harry Potter books.

Best wishes,

Tanya. said...

It's funny Anna, I have watched all of the Harry Potter movies and it was only reading what you had written that brought to mind Mary Poppins and her never ending bag and the Doctor Who and his Tardis. These things weren't original thoughts of Rowlings....only adaptations of what she herself had watched as a child. Very cleverly adapted but none the less not hers originally!!

Unknown said...

6th February 2014

Dear Tanya,

Thanks so much for your input here. Of course! Mary Poppins! Why didn't I think of that?

The more I study these different details, the more I am convinced that it is alright to borrow plot details, as long as you rework them and adapt them and make them your own.

I think that I have been hampered by the notion that I must be totally original when creating something or writing a story.

But who is really totally original? It is what you do with it that makes it your own idea even if it was not originally yours to begin with.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, Tanya.

Best wishes,

dolorah said...

I also thought of many fantasy writers that used the bag of holding type devices to carry lots of things. One magician had a bag that opened into a warehouse full of oranges. Even that is just an adaptation of a travel portal.

Worm holes, transporters, star gates and laser blasters have become just as popular in sci-fi movies and writings. Every genre has its standard, recognizable objects.

The concepts may not be new, but at least it is used in a unique way - who would ever think to pack a tent in a go bag or have a ghost as a professor - and doesn't distract from the main story. It would be cool to come up with a unique object/talisman or spell, but there is so much out there that is already been done it would be difficult to achieve. I think all writers or creators strive for that original idea, but most of us have to make do with tried and true gimmicks. At least it saves word count trying to describe or explain things.


Unknown said...

Sunday February 9th, 2014

Dear Donna,

Thanks so much for your input here. I understand that you know a lot more about speculative genres than I do. Through reading children's literature with my children, I have become acquainted with some of these spells etc. But I am beginning to see that there is a lot of sf and fantasy literature written for adults. I just don't have time to read it, although I have ordered some contemporary fantasy-books that I hope to be able to read in the coming months.

This post wraps up my miniseries on magic in children's books and the real world.

I don't know what I'll be writing for March. But I feel that it is time for a change, so it will be a new topic.

I hope you can get your blog back. I had trouble with a virus attack a couple of years ago and had to move to my present address, loosing all of my followers on Friend Contact. I moved all of my posts too. I don't know if you could do something similar to that - start a new blog and import your posts from the old one. I wish I was better at this and could advise you. But maybe you can find someone who is.

I really hope you can continue your blog, even if you have to move to a new address.

Best wishes,

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