5 Blogging Lessons Learned From The Harry Potter Movies And Books

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. With that said, let’s get this out of the way. J. K. Rowling has done a “nice” job of somewhat alienating herself with her position on a subject I’m not bringing up here. I don’t support her position, but I also refuse to cancel my love for the Harry Potter universe because of it. I didn’t throw away my Orson Scott Card books when he was found to be supporting the repeal of gay marriage in California, even though I thought that was idiotic as well.

Day 216: Macroeconomics for Muggles

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This article is only about the lessons any writer, blogger, story writer or whatever else is related to the topic, can learn by thinking about how J. K. put the entire series together. In a major way, it’s atypical of how many writers put their words together. Here and there I’ve been known to do some research, but the longest I’ve ever put into researching an article on this blog on something I wasn’t totally familiar with was 3 hours; I don’t see me ever doing that again.

With that said, I’m not sure many people have read, watched, and studied as much about this series as I have, other than J.K. Rowling herself. I read (okay, listen via audiobooks) and watch all the books and movies at least 3 or 4 times a year, in order, and at the same time (which isn’t easy to do since the movies are around 2 1/2 hours and the books range from about 8 hours to 18 hours; ouch). I also watch the movies individually whenever the urge strikes me; I think the only movies I’ve seen more than these are the Wizard Of Oz (who hasn’t lol) and Independence Day. 🙂

I’m a bit strange sometimes; as if I have to tell anyone that. 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. In this instance, 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, that can help bloggers or writers be better at their craft. 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 of every person and everything else most of us have never heard of before. It seems that Ms. Rowling took a lot of time studying the etymology of names that she used for her characters and beasts.

Almost all of the names used for characters in her books have meanings that fit their personalities throughout in the series. While most of us that try to write fiction (gave it a shot; failed miserably) 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 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 used to do that when I had my finance blog since I wrote on a lot of topics that I knew something about, but wasn’t close to being an authority on. That’s also 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 not only get it right but help expand some knowledge about a subject.

2. Continuity makes people feel comfortable.

In this case I’m talking about the cast of the Harry Potter movies, though the books do something similar. 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. Not just major characters either, but many secondary or fringe characters, integral to the story line or not. Watching the movies over and over, I’ve noticed faces in the crowds that my mind recognizes from previous movies; fascinating stuff.

The books offer the same type of thing. I began my Harry Potter journey by consuming the 5th book, Order Of The Phoenix, because I didn’t know that the books were in order. I was really confused, but when I read the first book I caught up fast because most of the characters were in both books and, as it turns out, many were in all the books, and going in order filled in everything I’d missed.

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 per se, but what I hope I’m doing is writing in a fashion where, for the most part, people get comfortable with my 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. 🙂

With that said, the 3rd movie, Prisoner of Askaban, made the least amount of money out of all the films (though, at $789 million, it was hardly a flop), probably because it was a drastic departure from how the first two movies were made. They brought in a new director who didn’t read the book, a new Dumbledore who didn’t read the books, and a style that was off-putting and darker than the other movies. It took me a while to appreciate the movie, and it was only because of the book that I gave it enough chances to finally help me like it more. Breaking away from your norm isn’t always a bad thing, but continuity from a loyal audience isn’t always something one should mess with.

The last audiobook; 21 hours!

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 more than 5 hours (eventually surpassed by the Lord Of The Ring movies). Yet, for the movies there were things that had to be taken out to keep the movies, well, watchable and under control. 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.

In books, you can have many side plots that help the story move along because it gives us something extra to keep our minds invested in it, but it’s much more difficult to pull that sort of thing off in a movie (which might explain my problem with the Eternals movie; just sayin’…). Still, the breadth of the books meant that the movies had to be longer because even addressing just one major plot took a while to get through. Things were left out, but the essentials were covered, even if some of us wanted more.

Those of us who write about blogging often eventually get to the topic of how long or short blog posts should be. Sometimes a person makes a recommendation, while other times the person will say that it’s up to each individual blogger. I touched upon that in my article about blogging beliefs in my first point. 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, or whether the movie is 90 minutes or close to 180 minutes. Create a compelling story, cover a compelling topic, 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 (well, twice he wasn’t, but that’s not bad for 7 long books lol). However, even with his scrutiny he did get one thing wrong (kind of, in the last book) 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 (if you haven’t read the books and you miss this reference, that’s on you lol).

It takes guts to blog about something you believe 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 be ready to acknowledge when we might be wrong because of a misconception or a belief in something that turns out not to be true, something I addressed in a post on my business blog some time ago.

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 eventually came to help out, much older than the students, 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 there will always be those who will 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! 😉
 

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14 thoughts on “5 Blogging Lessons Learned From The Harry Potter Movies And Books”

  1. These are some deep lessons, man! My main take away from those books was, “Don’t mess with the Whomping Willow!” LOL

    Seriously though, when I read for enjoyment, I rarely think about the things English teachers forced us to consider. At most, I’ll think about how the story relates to my world.

    Kudos for shining a spotlight on other things to ponder.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted..Anubis and ArtemisMy Profile

    1. LOL! The Whomping Willow was only in 3 books, but only truly significant when it was trying to smash Harry & Ron when we didn’t know what it was. Truthfully, the more often (is that a real phrase?) I consume the books and movies, the more insights I get to everything she put into it beforehand. I mean, can you imagine knowing that you’re going to write 7 books, each covering a school year, and have biographies of every single character you bring up in the book? Course, I needed to find out what a hag was independently, and that wizards and warlocks are the same thing on my own, but I’m good with it. 🙂

    1. It’s amazing stuff, especially when you realize she had to think it all up without prior knowledge. Even with all the stuff I’ve written over the years, I feel like a slacker because I didn’t have to research most of it.

  2. I LOVE this! All 5 lessons are great. I particularly like “Each book is as long as it needed to be” because I feel like I am fighting with how long to make the Alfred series due to short attention spans. You point out though that for truly well done books (not saying that is mine), length is not the issue because the reader is so absorbed in the story.

    I am a big fan of doing research on most things I write about so while it is a great rule for blogging, to me it is something most people would / or should figure out if they want to produce quality.

    Finally, I have said for awhile that “series” are in which is because as you point out, “continuity” is important. It gives us the feeling of community. It reminds us that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    All in all, loved this post.

    1. Thanks Jill, and to your point, your Alfred series shows a lot of continuity. Get those kids engaged and you’ll have a best seller. 🙂

      I’m lucky that most of the time I write on things that don’t need a lot of research. I’ll still put together some posts where a bit of research can be helpful, but I can’t imagine researching for hours anymore, since nowadays I’m not getting 40 to 50 people stopping by and commenting. But I like verification when necessary.

    1. Dude, read the series again while watching the movies, though I’ll admit that it’s a tough balancing act. I could have come up with a lot more, but I felt like this was enough to get people energized again. 🙂

      1. Oh, this post had plenty to make me want to write more! I’ve been slowly picking it back up again since exams ended. Are the audiobooks any good? If I read the series again, I’m thinking about trying it in a different medium.

      2. I love the audiobooks because I can listen to them anytime, especially while I’m driving. I don’t listen to music in the car anymore; audiobooks and downloaded podcasts and that’s pretty much it. There are two different sets of the audiobooks; I have the set with Jim Dale speaking; the other set is by Stephen Fry, who’s “kind of” a well known British actor. It’ll probably be easier if you buy them in audio to have the same narrator for all of them.

  3. Hi Mitch,

    I too am a big Harry Potter fan. Maybe not as big of a fan as you are though. I haven’t watched any of the movies from beginning to end even though my kids watch them frequently. It has also been a while since I have read the books.

    I love #3, it’s as long as it needs to be.

    Some people get hung up on word count.

    Also, great job on showing that inspiration for a blog post can come from anywhere.

    One last thing, I am glad I live under a rock, I have no idea what the latest scandal involving JK Rowling is and I’m ok with that!

    SharlaAnn
    SharlaAnn Matyjanka recently posted..Mentorship-I Didn’t Expect ThisMy Profile

    1. Thanks for commenting SharlaAnn; I’m not going to mess with your mind in telling you what’s going on with JK. I hope one day you’ll also consume the movies; you don’t have to go as deep into it all as I do. 🙂

      As for finding things that give you inspiration for blog posts, over the years I’ve used poker, chess, breakfast, airports, Yosemite Sam and a host of other things to inspire me to write here and on my business blog. Pretty much everything can be related to blogging or almost any other topic. I learned that from a professional speaker who earns $500K a year doing that but is actually in the organizing business. She said she speaks on any topic she’s asked to talk about while relating it to what her business is all about. Creativity is a bonus in the blogging world; wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

  4. Been meaning to comment on this for a while.

    Big Harry Potter fan too and have been a little puzzled by JK on some of her controversy because some of it contradicts other things she has written/verbalized.

    She has enough cash not to care about consequences. I am in a role now where being unfiltered sometimes causes strife.

    Anyhoo, I have always enjoyed the books and movies. As a writer I have deep appreciation for what it took to birth those books.
    Josh recently posted..The Permanence Of An Ephemeral DreamMy Profile

    1. Hey Josh! I actually understand her issue, though I don’t agree with it. One of the problems with getting older is that new things happen that we’ve never had to deal with before, and it’s confusing. Some things are hard to handle when you’re older and something new is normalized and you’re not prepared for it, especially if it’s something that, even indirectly, involves you. I’m not going to get into it more in a comment, but if you’d like more perspective check out this article on my business blog: https://www.ttmitchellconsulting.com/Mitchblog/leaders-need-to-learn-names-better-in-an-lbgtq-world/

      Concerning writing, I think she’s been amazing. I mean, the movies ended, what, 10 years ago, the last book 14 1/2 years ago, yet she can still put out information about the characters and the magical world that none of know because she researched it, and it still fascinates many of us every time she shares something with us. That’s fantastic research and dedication to the series, and without that I doubt the Fantastic Beasts movies would have ever been a thing (heck, she even wrote a Fantastic Beasts book, which she put out in 2001 that I didn’t learn about until the first movie came out (no, I didn’t buy it; it’s not a storybook lol). If only I had that kind of dedication to book writing I might have been a star! 🙂

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