Alright World Creators, let's get into the Neville Longbottom discussion.
Neville Longbottom could have been the chosen one, but Voldemort saw more of himself (the qualities that he hated about himself to be exact) in Harry Potter and assumed he was the enemy.
Neville had all of the same qualifications as Harry.
"The odd thing is, Harry," he said softly, "that it may not have meant you at all. Sibyll's prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom." -Dumbledore, Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
The main difference in Harry and Neville?
Harry was a half-blood. Neville was a pure-blood.
The main aspect that Voldemort hated about himself? Being half-blood.
Can you imagine if Voldemort had marked Neville as his equal instead of Harry?
Neville, who was raised by his grandmother, whose uncle threw him out of a balcony to see if he had magic powers?
While he was not raised in a room under the stairs, Neville had his own complicated life.
This is why character history is important. Why choice is important. We go into these two factors and more in the Character Mindset Planner.
Hear my initial rant on the subject in the Happy Write Now podcast episode 17.
Discussed on the podcast:
Neville's family life
Voldemort's relationship with his mom
How the prophecy came to involve both Harry and Neville
How our characters react to what they are given, whether or not they have coped with their past, the motivations behind their actions... those are the driving forces in our novels.
If Voldemort had chosen Neville Longbottom, would the wizarding world have survived? Would Neville's mother have been able to save him?
I don't know. There are so many tiny factors that aligned because Voldemort chose Harry as his equal. Without each of those tiny ripple effects, where would the story be?
Keep that in mind when creating the history of your world and main characters.
Learn more about the Character Mindset Planner here if you want some assistance building characters with the same diverse histories.
And what is very interesting about the rise and fall of Voldemort and his use of Horcruxes is that his quest for immortality lead him down a path where he lived less than the average muggle lifespan.
When wizards can live an average of 137 years in Harry Potter, Voldemort only lived to 81.
Talk about ironic.
Now, onto some magic system tips for my fellow fantasy authors.
Three magic system tips for fiction authors:
1. Use your own world as a guide
Are the problems in our world still prevalent in the magical one? Add magic to our current problems and let your reader know, is it still a problem?
Do your characters have concerns about climate change?
Do universities still exist?
In Harry Potter - magic leads to a longer life-expectancy
2. Create consequences (and kryptonite)
No magic can be all-powerful. If it were, there would be no conflict in your plot.
For every type of magic, bring together a list of drawbacks.
If you are at this peak level of power and gain your sun robe, is your lifespan shortened?
To reach the top of the priesthood, do you have to sacrifice who you love to prove your commitment to the lord of water?
There is a potion that can turn the drinker into stone. The one antidote? Goat poop. Who would have guessed that? Does this mean goats are sacred?!
In Harry Potter - Voldemort becomes less and less of himself as his soul splits into each Horcrux
You get the picture. Everything needs a balance, cure, or price.
3. Even when there is magic, the characters should still be the focus
No matter how amazing and beautiful your fictional world is, if your characters fall flat then no one will care about the elixir of life you introduced to the storyline.
Would we care that Harry was on this journey if he weren't relatable?
Keep your focus on the heart of the story and build a world around it.