Reader Identification: Believable & Not Perfect

Today’s guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on
storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim’s
book, Motherless.

The Potter series does an excellent job of getting readers to identify with Harry and the other key characters in the story.

Consider
the Big Three. They are all basically decent and admirable in a moral
sense, valuing honesty, loyalty, friendship, and fairness. At the same
time, they aren’t saccharine, but are capable of stepping around
arbitrary rules in order to achieve a lofty goal—including the pursuit
of happiness by sneaking off to Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop.

In
addition, none of the Big Three are exactly perfect. They each have
their flaws (Ron’s insensitivity, Harry’s laziness, Hermione’s
perfectionism), and these imperfections make them more accessible, more
believable as human beings.

The Big Three are also capable of
making mistakes, sometimes rather large ones. They solve the mystery of
Book 1, for example, but do so erroneously, blaming Snape right up to
the moment when Harry pulls the cards out of the little folder, and
discovers it wasn’t Mr. Mustard after all.

Anti-heroes have
their place, as do pure heroes like Superman, but the Potter series
demonstrates the powerful draw of heroic-but-flawed characters. We
identify with the Big Three because being like them (spell-casting
aside) seems both possible and desirable.

Next in series: Tight Focus

Photo credit: HChalkley

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