With the upcoming release of the final Harry Potter movie, our favorite boy wizard is almost everywhere you look.
Once the Potter books became successful, various writers and other folk started crying, “That’s not original! I wrote that first!” Or “J.K. Rowling took this and this and this from this other book.” Envy is an ugly thing. Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs have written an article posted at io9 that looks at all the claims and sorts fact from fiction.
It is interesting to see that what we think is purely original really isn’t. Rowling has acknowledged her debts to other creative minds. We see the same sorts of stories being told and retold. Writers today, after millennia of humans telling stories, aren’t in much position to bring something wholly new into the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t tell wonderful stories; we must recognize that we type on the shoulders of all who have told stories before us. Jill Harness, over at Neatorama, shows us how Rowling has made mythical creatures from stories of the past live in the world she created.
Finally, let me share with you an excellent piece by Cheryl Klein: A Few Things Writers can Learn from Harry Potter. (Spoilers abound if you haven’t read all the books.) This is something I come back to occasionally to refresh my memory and my imagination.