The Harry Potter series may look as if it played a major influence in my works, but I’ll be the first one to say, “Not so fast, my friend!” Sure, from an outsider’s standpoint, it may look as such. I mean we have Inter-Complex (sort of like a House system) rivalries, a fictional sport, an absent-minded yet brilliant mentor to the main characters, and a main setting at a school that happens to be somewhat isolated. Sound familiar? Maybe, but again, I’ll be the first one who will distinguish this as the largest misconception than a mainstream belief that cardio exercise is king when it comes to fat loss for all individuals. In other words, what may be a pre-conceived thought isn’t always what it seems. For that, I will say Harry Potter is indeed an influence, it’s also far, far from it.
Let’s begin with the Complexes. In Harry Potter, students are sorted via their characteristics and personal preferences. In Once, there is no sorting, and it mainly resembles arranging college students into dormitory residence halls, and nothing else. For that, students are literally chosen for their Complex at random and not a single shred of characteristic is unearthed. Sometimes, the region from where one hails plays a role, but nothing else. For that, one can wear the orange and brown of Matthews and the black and gold of Wilson, but there is no difference of characteristics existing. As previously mentioned, there are Complex rivalries, but these rivalries have sprung up over time due to the age of the school, which is a university just like any other university, which in Once had been around for one-hundred and fifty years. Nothing but good old differences between Complexes over the years in Once.
When I say fictional sport, there is absolutely no magical element to the game. We aren’t flying on broomsticks and we have more than seven players on each side of the field here. For another, the sport, known as shotball, has more of a college football influence than anything else. Have you ever watched College Gameday? Think of it more like the Saturday marathon of college football. This is literally all there is to it. In fact, the shotball itself may be more of a knock-off of rugby than any other sport, as it very, very closely resembles rugby.
For starters, I really don’t hit hard on the professors and their personalities. I was initially going to do this, but Once is more than a year at school. In fact, my description of the professors didn’t even fit into the plot, so I found it unnecessary. Once focuses more on what the main characters are doing at any given time outside of the classroom. Also, Summit University is like any other college or university. This is by no means a school of magic, rather it’s post-secondary education with majors and minors one would find anywhere.
Finally, when we get to the school being a main setting, I’d like to ask you, the reader, a question: Once is written during a time of major conflict, unrest, and uncertainty. What are the most vocal places when these things exist? Typically, at any given time in post-nineteenth century American History, colleges and universities are the most outspoken. Just look at the Election of 2016 as a prime example. For that, there was no more appropriate place to set Once than a university, Summit University, named after Summit County, Ohio.
So, what did Harry Potter influence? J.K. Rowling’s writing style was a huge influence. Rowling loves to describe scenes, objects, and action in vivid detail, and I tend to do so myself. Because of this, I’ll rewrite a single scene up to twelve times before I’m satisfied, because I want to catch every single detail that will make the reader feel as if he or she is witnessing the action in the book first-hand. The reader, especially one proficient in a wide array of literature, will spot this. I’ve read Harry Potter dozens of times, and one of the reasons of me doing so was because I absolutely loved the way J.K. Rowling described everything. It made me feel as if I were there.
Furthermore, I wanted to model my character development in an equivalent manner. I wrote an entire series plot, for a series of six books. For that, I wanted to dictate where each character was headed and why they were headed in one way or another. Also, I wanted my main characters and my high-end minor characters to have direction in the role they played in Once. I asked myself where they were going, why they were going there, how were they going to do it, when would they go to where they needed to, and what was going to make them do this. It was the good old who, what, when, where, why, and how in full effect. J.K. Rowling did a tremendous job with direction of her characters, and they slid right into the plot. I’m hoping to achieve the same effect with Once.
There is something I forgot to mention during my initial influence post, and that is I love allegories. For that, Once is an allegory. There is a top story, but there is also a bottom story. In fact, there may be a third story associated with this tale. My goal is to send as many messages as possible, and Once is just that, my way of sending messages to those I cannot reach. This also means multiple audiences can and will benefit from Once. When you read the work, pay attention to everything, from the details of the scene to the character’s attire. There will be more than simply a description.