Do you remember when Bustle offered “The ONE Question That Will Determine Which Hogwarts House You Belong In”? This one:
If you could take on huge risk right now, and undo it if it didn’t end up with the result you wanted, what would it be?
It was a horrible question, completely non-canon. Artists kept getting sorted as Slytherin, because our answer involved taking risks for the sake of art, A.K.A. “our career.”
Should we really trust a sorting hat method created by a Slytherpuff anyway? (I’m totally kidding. I’m married to one.)
The Sorting Hat Is All You Need
If Hermione were in charge of sorting students, she’d go to the primary source: The Sorting Hat. Not even Pottermore, which is what caused existential crises in all of us when THAT first came out.
Example: I’m a Gryffindor. If you’d have asked in 2012 which Hogwarts I would be in, I would’ve said Ravenclaw. They’re brilliant, and they live in a tower. (Those conditions were the only aspects I considered. Clearly I’m not as brilliant as I think.)
Then Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, triggering an existential crisis.
Now I totally get it. I’m like a hybrid Minerva/Molly/Hermione.
You can view everything the Sorting Hat sayssings on the subject of houses here, but read on for the defining characteristics of each.
Images belong to Pottermore. Become a member to take their sorting quiz.
Ravenclaws are CLEVER. They might be wise, or they might be “smart” (as in, “Don’t be smart with me!”). They are more concerned with self-betterment than measurable success; they are motivated by improvement, not competition with others. They need to be informed … and to inform others.
The Ravenclaws who kept hiding Luna’s things can show the dark side of Ravenclaw: removing whatever makes oneself look less than best.
Gryffindors have NERVE. Bravery—maybe. Willingness to talk back to teachers, sure. Standing up to bullies / defending others? Definitely. They aren’t afraid to break the rules for the greater good.
Taking risks isn’t necessarily a defining factor of Gryffindor! You can be a scaredy wormtail and still end up in Gryffindor. You might avoid risks if the stakes are personal (like failure or rejection) but be braver if someone else is at risk. Neville showed a ton of courage in The Deathly Hallows, but do you think he tried out for the Quidditch team? I’m thinking No.
Slytherins have AMBITION. They are the most valuable allies and the most formidable foes because they will fight/sacrifice to achieve their goals. Slytherins get things done.
You don’t have to be a liar or a cheat to be in Slytherin, but if you are, then at least all the other sorting tests based on superficial stereotypes will confirm that you’re in the right house. *shrug*
Hufflepuffs are TRUE to self & others. Loyal, kind, and hardworking if they believe in the work. Hufflepuffs are the most altruistic, possibly the most practical, definitely the most fair.
Why isn’t Harry Potter a Slytherin? He totally could’ve been, except that he was prejudiced against them by the Weasleys, who considered evil, racist Death Eaters as being representative of the Slytherin house. #NotAllSlytherin
Why weren’t Hermione Granger or Minerva McGonagall Ravenclaws? Because they both have a lot of nerve—they’re willing to break rules.
But Hermione wasn’t willing to break the rules when she was first sorted! I think the Sorting Hat is either into divination—it saw how Harry and Ron would rub off on her—or it felt the need to inject some wisdom into Gryffindor to balance out the Weasley brothers.
Why isn’t Neville Longbottom a Hufflepuff? Neville is very loyal, but more than that, he’s willing to lose house points (and their good sides) to stand up to Harry & co. He’s a Gryffindor.
Why wasn’t Snape a Gryffindor? He was brave and sacrificial, but ultimately his actions were motivated by obtaining his goals: becoming Dark Arts professor or (spoiler: [acting out his love for Lily]).
Why wasn’t Luna a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff? Simply put, she’s the cleverest of all Harry’s friends. You might say she’s a rule-breaker, but she can’t really break rules if she marches to the beat of her own drum.
Do you have any more examples you’d like to add? Based on the defining characteristics above, which house would you be sorted into?
If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ll get daily doses of writing and editing tips with an occasional sprinkling of bad jokes and fangirl gushing over Clark Gregg or Nathan Fillion (unless you follow me @LaraEdits, which is my new account for editing tips). You may have seen this tweet:
Drama, that magic stuff that keeps us reading, requires CHARACTER (protagonist, w/ goals) and CONFLICT (obstacles, stakes). #writingtips
Next morning I awoke, looked out the window and nearly died of fright. My screams brought Atticus from his bathroom half-shaven.
“The world’s endin’, Atticus! Please do something!” I dragged him to the window and pointed.
“No it’s not,” he said. “It’s snowing.”
—To Kill a Mockingbird
In first-person narration, the narrator is a character in the story and uses the pronoun “I.” We never see into anyone else’s head, unless there is more than one narrator. The narrator is aware of an audience and needs to have a reason to tell the story. As in omniscient narration, the voice of the first-person narrator must be distinct, interesting, and well-crafted.
In first-person movies, we usually hear the thoughts of the narrator but see the character.In fiction, however, the narrator should not be remembering scenes as an out-of-body experience. In other words, there shouldn’t be any filtering.
In this clip from A Christmas Story, we can see Ralphie most of the time, but we can also hear his thoughts and sometimes see from his visual point-of-view.
First person novels:To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Frankenstein, Dracula
Third-Person Omniscient Narrator
There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C…(before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy…. Well, this one left them all behind.
—The Princess Bride
The omniscient narrator knows what is going on in any person’s head at any time, in any place. The narrator is its own voice and can make its own judgments about the characters. It’s the least intimate of the POVs, but the distance can be comic distance, used effectively for humor. This style of narration calls attention to itself (remember, it’s presentational), and it carries the story. Omniscient narration must be interesting and exceptionally well written. It can have a distinct voice that makes comments, like in the narration at the beginning of 500 Days of Summer, or throughout Amelie.
A fair warning, though. Many people consider omniscient narration to be sloppy or lazy, and “head hopping” is a common mistake made by writers. Unless you are writing comedy or are briefly creating an establishing shot, you might want to consider using Third Person Limited Omniscience.
Third person Omniscient novels:The Princess Bride, parts of The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, books by Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Austen
Third-Person Limited Narrator, Light
It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew—and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents—that there was all the difference in the world.
― Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Third person limited omniscience, light penetration consists of a neutral narration which sometimes dives into the head of a character (or two or more, but only one per scene—it is limited). This POV is usually replaced by deep penetration during emotionally tense scenes that need to be more fully experienced. In movies, soliloquies are the closest thing to hearing the characters’ thoughts, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is full of them.
Third-Person Limited Narrator, Deep
It was stupid, pointless, irritating beyond belief that he still had four days left of being unable to perform magic…
—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Marvolo Gaunt’s ring lay on the desk before Dumbledore. It was cracked; the sword of Gryffindor lay beside it.
—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I’ve given the two examples above to illustrate different examples of deep penetration in a novel that is primarily light penetration. In the first, the narration is what Harry is feeling, though it doesn’t say, “he thought,” and it stays in third person rather than switching suddenly to first. In the second, we have come from seeing Harry seeing through the pensieve—using filtering words like “Harry saw,” “Harry noticed,” etc.—to seeing the objects for ourselves, without filtering.
Like first person, in third-person deep, we see into someone else’s head and everything is told from his or her point of view, but the narration uses third person pronouns instead of first. This can actually be more intimate than first person, because the reader sort of becomes the POV character. Think of it like having a dream. In a dream, you can be someone else. You know it isn’t you, hence the third-person pronouns, but you still see from someone else’s POV. No filtering is used—no “he thought” or “she thought,” and any separate narrator disappears so that the POV character becomes the narrator.
Imagine a movie like Cloverfield, in which we can also hear the filming character’s thoughts. This is what reading first person or third person deep penetration should look like.
Third-Person Cinematic/Objective Narrator
I can’t really give a short example of an objective point of view, because for all you know, the next line might have a description of someone’s thoughts, and objective narration is characterized by what it isn’t rather than what it is. If you’re reading a suspenseful tale that has a scene featuring the villain or suspect, chances are, that scene is told in objective narration. To see into the mind of the bad guy would give up his motive.
If you really want to see this in practice, compare Voldemort’s scenes in the first few Harry Potter books, in which we/Harry can see into his head, to the first chapter of Deathly Hallows, which is so cinematic, none of the characters are named until after they are physically described. The reader is forced to make guesses and assumptions about the characters, because the narrator is completely silent.
In a cinematic view, we can’t see into anyone’s thoughts, so we rely on our own observations of the characters and their dialogue.
Most movies never go into the brain of a character, which is why this style of narration is called cinematic. So to illustrate, I’ll pick a scene that is painfully, obviously cinematic, from The Hunger Games.
In the books, we see everything from Katniss’s brain. It’s written in first person, present tense, and the effect is immediacy. We hear her thoughts as she has them. In this scene of the movie, the director relies on clunky sports commentary to explain what Katniss may or may not be thinking. It’s insulting to the viewer. The director assumes you aren’t smart enough to figure out what’s going on. If we really couldn’t figure it out, all Katniss had to do would be to mutter, “It’s mined.” Or even, “It’s a minefield.” Or, hey, even, “Well, I declare! I do believe they have taken the mines from under the launch pads and moved them there, to create a booby trap!” It’s not like humans never say anything to themselves aloud. I assume they wanted a sort of pinch point, to remind the audience of the Capitol, and they probably wanted to get Stanley Tucci some more screen time, but UGH.
Here’s how it plays out in the book, and notice how, even though she doesn’t have to, she whispers OUT LOUD:
I realize I’m grinding my teeth in frustration. Foxface has confirmed what I’d already guessed. But what sort of trap have they laid that requires such dexterity? Has so many trigger points? Why did she squeal so as her hands made contact with the earth? You’d have thought … and slowly it begins to dawn on me … you’d have thought the very ground was going to explode.
“It’s mined,” I whisper. That explains everything. The Careers’ willingness to leave their supplies, Foxface’s reaction, the involvement of the boy from District 3, where they have the factories, where they make televisions and automobiles and explosives. But where did he get them? In the supplies? That’s not the sort of weapon the Gamemakers usually provide, given that they like to see the tributes draw blood personally. I slip out of the bushes and cross to one of the round metal plates that lifted the tributes into the arena. The ground around it has been dug up and patted back down. The land mines were disabled after the sixty seconds we stood on the plates, but the boy from District 3 must have managed to reactivate them. I’ve never seen anyone in the Games do that. I bet it came as a shock even to the Gamemakers.
If they really had to have Caesar Flickerman in that scene, he could have explained that second paragraph after Katniss figured it out, giving the backstory, and not insulting both the protagonist and the audience.
But I digress and rant.
That’s about all I have to say on Point of View for the time being. Let me know if you need something more clearly explained, or if you want to know more about another writing topic. I’m open to suggestions!