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TOPIC: What makes a plot bunny hop?
#604
furiosity (User)
Ickle Firstie
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What makes a plot bunny hop? 11 Years, 7 Months ago House Points: 8  
Aja asked me to start the first author-led discussion and I HOPE THIS IS THE RIGHT FORUM FOR IT. I apologise in advance for this being rather all over the place and waffley and OTP-y; I've had an interesting week.

So... what makes a plot bunny hop?
(the author being in a situation where it's not practical to stop what she's doing and pursue the bunny... at least in my experience...)

Harry/Draco has lots of "old hat" plot scenarios that very nearly everyone's done at least once (or is going to at some point in the future...). A magical accident makes them switch bodies! A love potion makes one in love with the other against his will! Draco is a Veela and Harry is his mate! They must soul-bond or mind-link to save Ron/Narcissa/Hogwarts/the world!

HP canon makes it child's play to bring two antagonistic characters together against their wills, but for Harry/Draco, the plot device is just the beginning (unless you're writing PWP and have no intention to move beyond the sex). Whether they're playing Spin the Bottle in the Gryffindor common room or switching bodies in the Potions classroom, it is what follows -- the overcoming of resentment, the inevitable realisation that they've got some things in common, the All-Important Moment in Which They Acknowledge the Other as a Human Being and, finally, that they want to be together even after the plot device has been eliminated.

Then there's the other type of story, the one that doesn't employ any devices that force the boys together but instead flows through a series of cause-and-effect events that brings the boys together inch by inch until they once again have to make that same journey from dislike/hatred to acceptance and maybe even love (and that's usually a pretty big maybe). These types of plots can get pretty intense and perhaps too complicated -- sometimes there is a cast of thousands and it's hard to tell what the story is about by the time you reach chapter 232.

I think the thing to keep in mind with a Harry/Draco plot is that it's about, well, Harry/Draco. All their friends might well have love affairs on the side (I rather think Goyle is a prime candidate for taking up goat-charming in his spare time...) and there might well be stuff going on in the world around them, but if Harry/Draco is not central to the story in some way -- if their relationship does not influence the story but sort of... runs alongside it -- then it's not a Harry/Draco story, not really.

Harry/Draco is EPIC, man. Montague vs Capulet only without a balcony and hopefully Ron doesn't get run through with a sword (I swear, when I read that bit in DH, where Hermione was discussing Ron's soul in chapter 6 or 7), I was like "OMG IT'S GOING TO BE H/D AND RON IS GOING TO BE MERCUTIO THIS IS FORESHADOWING DAMN IT"). I digress H/D is epic and their love (or their denial, whichever) CHANGES THINGS. It makes a difference to the outcome. Whether it's braving mortal danger for the other or a handshake, their relationship MATTERS.

And that, I think, is what makes the difference, ultimately: Harry and Draco, the boys who are so unlikely to care about each other, overcoming those odds and caring for each other anyway because the plot can't go any other way.

Harry/Ginny was a letdown because Harry's love for Ginny in canon has nothing to do with the plot; she's just one extra thing for Harry to worry about when he's already worried about everyone and their pet Thestral. He thinks of her inexplicably (canon wording...) before he's about to die, and it's inexplicable because, well, there is no real reason for him to think about Ginny there. Ginny was very important in CoS but then fell by the wayside -- in the end, it could have been anyone else with the diary and it wouldn't have made that much of a difference to the books, apart from giving Ginny her one cool line in OotP ("Lucky you.").

Draco, on the other hand, has been indispensible to the outcome of canon and you know, as a H/D shipper, I was pretty damn happy with that. Things Draco did mattered. They changed things. Ginny was just... there. Really, HBP and DH could have been a H/D story with far less effort and no chest monsters.

...it's a bit hard to write about all this, tbh. DH has changed a lot about the way I see the pairing dynamic and I'm trying to be very general, but HAHAHA OMG BOYS FIGHTING EACH OTHER FOR WANDS. >.>

Aja asked -- what makes a plot successful in this pairing and why?

I think it depends on what a reader is looking for in the story, but I think a plot will be successful if the writer can get the reader to go "Yes! That could happen! That could happen to canon Harry and Draco!". Because, really, I think that's what it's all about -- using canon Harry and canon Draco and bringing them together somehow. Whether your story employs an all-Hogwarts party as a plot device or sets up an elaborate murder mystery, if Harry and Draco remain their canon selves and get together, you're writing something that every H/D shipper wants to read. The possibilities are endless.

What do you think?
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Last Edit: 2007/12/15 03:23 By furiosity.
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#605
reenka (Admin)
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Re:What makes a plot bunny hop? 11 Years, 7 Months ago House Points: 14  
EHEHEHE!! *cough* I think that's pretty much my reaction : )) I was sort of squirming and giggling like a total shippy fangirl They're important! Hehe! They matter! hehe!! um. But yeah.


I love H/D fics for a number of reasons (okay, three: they're well-written, they're snarky/cute, or they're so IC I can see it happening... hopefully all three, that's the Holy Grail), but the ones I go OMG YESSSS!! about in terms of get-together longfics are definitely the ones I can see happening to canon Harry & Draco, no matter how it comes about. My favorite scenarios so far are:
- they were stuck in Roman-era England together;
- they were stuck trying to survive together in the wilderness while outrunning an evil potion;
- they were stuck in the tunnel between Hogwarts and Honeyduke's;
...I'm starting to see a pattern...
- they were stuck in an elevator together (ok, that's just 'cause I'm a pervert);
- mindbond woo-hoo!
...
- they're stuck in an Alternate Universe together and/or in a dream and/or etcetc I just don't read the 232-chapter epics, I guess. D:

I definitely think that ideally, a plot should seamlessly work to get them to an understanding as a byproduct, though *hopefully* the fic doesn't make it too easy or obvious, at the same time? Like, it should seem natural, but not to natural, 'cause no plot can make it... natural, if you know what I mean. : ))

I mean, it's definitely true that Draco can't be 'just the love-interest'; one big conceptual problem I have with epi-compliant fics is actually that they do just that to Draco-- because if Harry can go on with his life, still marry Ginny and go on 'as normal' or 'as usual' on his tracks, then... Draco was a fling, y'know. Even if Harry has regrets or whatever, he clearly didn't think it was *that* important. And I guess the truth is, that's realistic in a general sense, insofar as people in real life make these sorts of compromises and messy decisions, but not Harry. Harry's a Gryffindor! He follows his gut! He does what's right + what he really wants and believes in! There's no way Harry wouldn't be changed deeply and forever by an intimate association with Draco. This much, I think is just obvious from his canon characterization.


So... I guess it's like, if they're together, they'd have to influence the progression of events in their lives as much as those events influence them and bring them together, no? Even if Draco wouldn't be as 'rawr! action! initiative!', Harry would be; he wouldn't allow shit to tear them apart. I think. Unless he actively gave up on Draco, and to do that he'd have to write Draco off the way he tried to write Ron off in year 4. And then Harry ain't coming back unless Draco begs. Hahah probably not even then, 'cause it's not Ron. But anyway, Draco wouldn't so the point is moot.


The most believable scenarios are the ones where 'fate' or 'device' work/flow seamlessly with the personalities/choices of the characters, where you shape the 'fate' by your own actions-- which is how real life works. Some things are outside our control, some are-- it's a fine balance; it depends on your personal opinions on this, but I believe we are more in control of our lives if we believe ourselves to be (and less so the more powerless we believe ourselves). Any one event (like a potion, a spell or an event within a war) is always in the context of the character's larger life & circumstances, which are what determine their reactions and the further flow & direction of events. There are always multiple choices-- y'know, like in a game-- and many possible outcomes. To write most believably and well, you as the writer shouldn't presume any single outcome, including that where Harry & Draco end up together. I mean, ideally it should seem obvious that they got together in the end-- it should *seem* like all the events led up to that inevitable point-- but you shouldn't really force the events to lead up to it too much. It should evolve organically because of their personalities & choices, if that makes sense.

What I'm saying is, if you believe in H/D, it will happen organically in any fic (even if you're not trying for it to, as I should know, or even if you're actively trying for it not to). So forget about H/D while writing. Just write Harry and Draco-- and whatever cool event you like-- and see how these things interact. See what happens! The more you don't know about the ultimate relationship ends (no matter what you know about the plot end/structure), the more exciting the journey would be for the reader as well!



In conclusion, EHEHEHE BOYS FIGHTING FOR WANDS!!

*excited!*
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Last Edit: 2007/12/15 06:05 By reenka.
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#606
who_la_hoop (User)
Ickle Firstie
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Re:What makes a plot bunny hop? 11 Years, 7 Months ago House Points: 0  
I think the magical combination that brings a fun H/D fic from simply being enjoyable to being OMG fantastic is three things:

1. Harry and Draco in character, rather than being two romance heroines who’ve mysteriously body-swapped with our boys. Because come on, Draco’s a bit of an arse really, and our Harry’s not always quick on the uptake and that’s half the fun. If they’re suddenly deeply romantic and emotionally competent, then they’re not Harry and Draco.

2. A plot, or plot device that forces them together in some way. Because if we’re thinking about canon, it’s quite clear that our boys are a bit unlikely to wake up one morning and go “hmmm, today I think I’ll sleep with Malfoy/Potter, even though I know Malfoy/Potter (appears to) hate me and (appears to be) against every moral standpoint I hold”.

3. Lots of good words, in the right order.

But that's not really answering the question. So what makes a H/D plot work? Any plot-line where it’s terribly easy for them to get together doesn’t quite cut it for me. For two such different boys to fall in love – to face the potential disapproval of friends, family and the whole world, and to overcome their history – takes struggle and hard work. It’s not love at first sight, because (obviously) they’ve already seen each other quite a few times! So they need a situation where they’re forced to interact with each other – to fight and shout, and to be forced to realise that the boy opposite them isn’t who they think they are at all, but someone rather more intriguing and complex.

In a way it is a bit Romeo/Juliet-ish – but then again, Romeo didn’t join up with a Dark Lord who wanted to kill Juliet, so it’s darker and a bit more twisted. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny, and light-hearted – but I think that if a story ignores the history behind the boys then it can be great, but it can’t be fantastic. The pinch of salt gives it the flavour.

I think what I’m trying to say is that to a certain extent it doesn’t really matter what the plot is (as long as it has the vital “shoving them together” ingredient – because if they just meander together then I won’t believe in it) – as long as the characters are written well, the boys’ dark history is an undercurrent throughout and their eventual discovery of their new feelings for each other is believable (rather than making me go, huh? When did that happen?).

(And as a final note, bashing Ginny just pulls me out of the story, and tells me that the author dislikes Ginny, rather than Harry disliking her. If you don’t like her, just skim over her, for pity’s sake).
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