Occasionally I get a hankering to try something new here on the old blog, and today is one of those occasions. I've been trying to read more critically of late, hoping that some of my observation of other writers will rub off on my own writing. Consequently, I started thinking about my favorite stories and what changes I might have made had they been mine.
For some, it's really a challenge to find anything that could make the story better, the writing tighter, etc. In the end, this is all just fanciful jealousy aimed at having some fun. I'm by no means seriously critiquing any of the stories I feature. It's just a way to stimulate some debate and thought.
So if it's for fun, why not start with the Holy Grail? It's the story and author that I have placed on the highest pedestal in terms of YA. For the sake of our examination, I'll be looking at the series as a whole.
3 Things I'd Change - Harry Potter (There may be spoilers, but let's face it, if you haven't read them by now I'm not sure I can care about you.)
3. Headmaster Snape? Dumbledore was the ultimate headmaster of Hogwarts. He was fair, even-tempered, brilliant, and beyond wise. He was perfect. Too perfect.
I know, I know. He didn't always make the best decisions when it came to Harry, but his heart was always in the right place. Furthermore, the Dumbledore we get to know in book 7 was a very flawed person. However, that was all after the fact. When he was alive and kicking he was a goody-goody.
Great conflict = great fiction. Consequently, I'd have loved to see the potions prof we love to hate, Severus Snape, take over the head spot in book 3 (or so). Here's my thinking: Why not have Dumbledore run afoul of the Ministry way earlier and leave Snape in charge? He (Snape) is still obliged to protect/hate Harry, but has much more power. Dumbledore was at his most badass when he was making the Ministry look like fools and operating outside the "law". In the end, I think it would have added some depth to both characters.
It took a major character biting the dust 6 books in for the bond between Harry and Ginny to fully manifest. Sure, he saved her life way back in book 2, but I think the main squeeze of the Boy That Freaking Lived deserves a bit more spotlight. Having her 'sit out' most of the adventures of the 7th book due to Harry's fear of her getting hurt felt a little like a copout for an underused character that suddenly found herself in the spotlight. JK is a masterful writer, and she could have easily made the Fabulous 3 (Ron, Harry, & Hermione) a foursome from book 2 on.
Not killing him off was fan/author service. I realize that. However, I felt it weakened the overall impact of the story. JK did such an expert job of weaving themes into her work, and by not killing Harry, I think one of the major themes was left a little tarnished. Harry made so many sacrifices to defeat Voldemort, but never the ultimate one. If it were mine, I'd have killed Harry and left Dumbledore alive.
So tell me I'm crazy! What do you all think? Would you have made any changes to the most popular books of our time? We can all debate this while JK swims in her money bin ...
Let me know what you think about the 3 things. Should I continue to nitpick timeless works or let them be? Maybe next week I'll tackle the Bible or some other hack-job like To Kill a Mockingbird. :)