For those who have been with this blog for awhile, you know I’m a major league Harry Potter fan, both the books and the movies. One of the earliest posts on this blog was about the series of Harry Potter books, and last year I wrote a review here of the last movie Deathly Hallows Part 2. I’m not sure anyone has read, watched, and studied as much about this stuff as I have, other than J.K. Rowling herself.
I’m a bit strange sometimes. I write about blogging all the time, and often while doing or experiencing something else I wonder how it could relate to blogging or social media. Hey, those are the things on my mind, so I guess it figures. Therefore, I’m going to relate 5 blogging lessons I’ve gleaned from all this stuff concerning Harry Potter, whether it’s in the books, movies, or elsewhere. Here we go.
1. Research can help bring more meaning into what you’re doing. One of the things that I found fascinating about the Harry Potter books were the names. It seems that Ms. Rowling took a lot of time studying the etymology of names that she used for her characters. Almost all of the names used for characters in her books have meanings that fit their personalities in some fashion in the book. While most of us that try to write fiction might pull a name out of our heads that we like, hers had more meaning, and I bet there’s a large audience that was pulled into her writing because of that.
When we blog about topics that we both know or might be on the fringe of our knowledge, a little bit of research can help us stay on point and protect us from making a major mistake. I do that often with my finance blog since I write on a lot of topics that I know something about, but not a lot about. That’s why I’ll sometimes link to a reference on all my blogs if I think someone might want to know more about the topic or the word. It never hurts to try to get it right.
2. Continuity makes people feel comfortable. In this case I’m talking about the cast of the Harry Potter movies. Over the course of 11 years making 8 movies from 7 books, they were able to retain 75% of the actors in the series, which is phenomenal. And not just major characters either, but many secondary or fringe characters both integral to the storyline or not. As I’ve watched the movies over and over I’ve noticed faces in the crowds that my mind recognizes from previous movies; fascinating stuff.
For blogging people call it “niche” writing, which isn’t a bad thing to do when you’re trying to reach a particular market. Of course this blog isn’t niched, but what I hope I’m doing is writing in a fashion where, for the most part, people get comfortable with the overall style. Sure, I change it up from time to time but even the Harry Potter movies had to change Dumbledore’s after the first two movies. 🙂
3. Each book and movie is as long as it needed to be. With each new Harry Potter book the number of pages got higher and higher. Each movie was at least 2 hours, and if you count the last two movies as one movie it reached 5 hours. Yet for all the movies there were things that had to be taken out to keep the movies, well, watchable. Whereas someone like me would have loved watching 6 hour movies each time, the masses would have felt like they were in history class and tuned out.
I see the topic of how long blog posts should be on many blogs. Sometimes a person makes a recommendation, while other times the person will say that it’s up to each individual blogger. What the Harry Potter series shows us is that if you can get people engaged in what you have to say that it won’t matter to them whether it’s 300 words or 3,000 words. Create a compelling story and people will not only read it, they’ll come back for more.
4. Sometimes being the lone voice is lonely, but you might be right. Many times throughout the series Harry Potter speculated on things that others just weren’t ready to believe. Even his best friends sometimes couldn’t see the truth the way he could. He didn’t let that stop him, and invariably he’d end up being correct. However, even with his scrutiny he did get one thing wrong, really wrong, which was planned so he could eventually do the right thing to save lives, and he made up for it by giving his youngest son that man’s middle name.
It takes guts to blog about something you feel you know is correct yet feel others might not agree with. Sometimes it’s in the delivery, sometimes it’s in the research (see #2 above), sometimes it’s a gut feeling based on your perception of the information you have at the time. We all have to be willing to stick to our guns in our beliefs, while at the same time ready to acknowledge when your wrong because of a misperception or a belief in something that turns out not to be true, something I actually addressed in a post on my business blog last week.
5. When the chips are down, or the situation is important enough, if you’ve built up a community they’ll come to your rescue or fight on your side. This is ultimately what happens in the Harry Potter series. With overwhelming fear of being killed many students decided it was worth fighting the bad guys rather than allow known killers to rule their lives going forward. Others came as they could to help out, and a lot of people got killed. Yet in the end what had to be done was completed and everyone ended up better for it.
When you build a community through blogging they’ll always be there to come to your aid if someone decides to challenge you in a very negative way. It’s amazing the good feelings one can earn from people they’ve never met in person by being consistent, fair and friendly. Negative thoughts and feelings can be powerful and hard to overcome, but good feelings bring people together and always seem to win out eventually.
Whew; that was a lot wasn’t it? Good thing I didn’t go for 10! 😉