What Your Hogwarts House Says About How and Why You Write

Apologies, y’all. This is a bit of a frivolous post for today as I am under deadline for book 2 and therefore do not have the mindspace for anything more significant or useful. Anyway! The other week, I was out to dinner with Roshani Chokshi and a friend of hers, who was also an aspiring writer. We got to talking about our Hogwarts Houses and the reasons for why we write, so I thought I’d write a little bit about our conclusions.

To preface this, I am going off of my Hogwarts House Matrix in terms of alignments and core values, not necessarily what J. K. Rowling says via Pottermore!

Gryffindor

In my Hogwarts House Matrix, I defined the core value of Gryffindor as Justice. I think that at their best, Gryffindors give voice to the voiceless through their writing. Of all the Houses, I think Gryffindors tend to be the most passionate about championing causes in literature: diversity, literacy, accessibility, etc. They’re generally the ones at the forefront of hard but necessary conversations, and their books are often filled with characters overthrowing oppressive governments or fighting against prejudice. (Like…all of Harry Potter.)

One of the pitfalls of being Gryffindor is that, in your zeal to bring attention to your pet cause, you risk trampling over others. Giving voice to the voiceless is admirable…when you remember to hand the microphone over.

Hufflepuff

As the core value of Hufflepuff is Fairness, I tend to think of writers in this House as the craftsmen of the writing world. They’re the ones who are forever striving to better their craft, to listen and take in everyone’s feedback. I think Hufflepuffs are the most conscientious readers and writers of the four Houses—the ones most likely to hire sensitivity readers, and also the ones most likely to evaluate what they read based on objective execution, not personal enjoyment.

One of the pitfalls of Hufflepuff is working so much on your craft that you fail to take the next step, believing your work needs to reach an objective idea of “good” before it can be published. There is a difference between Good Writing and Good Storytelling, and in publishing, it is the latter that matters more. (But both are ideal, obviously.)

Ravenclaw

It seems natural that Ravenclaws, whose core value is Knowledge, would probably gravitate towards nonfiction, but there are plenty of Ravenclaws (like myself) who more or less write fiction exclusively. I can’t speak for all other members of my House, of course, but personally, I write to better know myself. Nearly everything I’ve written has involved me trying to work through something—a theme, an idea, etc. Often I figure out what it is I’m trying to work through in hindsight (“Oh, I was trying to examine how colonialism affects feminism!”) because the subconscious brings things to the table that the conscious may not necessarily notice straightaway because it’s too busy trying to resolve plot logistics. Similarly, every book I’ve written has been an amalgamation of things that interest me: German typography, Underworld narratives, goth tropes, etc.

One of the pitfalls of Ravenclaw is getting so caught up in research, you never move forward with actual writing. (Guilty as charged.) Ravenclaws can also get lost in the forest because they can’t see it for the trees. Little details matter less than big picture narrative arcs.

Slytherin

Slytherins love Success. How they choose to define said success is incredibly individualistic; some believe success means a lot of money. Others believe it is critical acclaim. Still others believe success means they get better with each book. However Slytherins choose to define success is their raison d’être for writing. Now, I’m not one who subscribes to the hybrid House idea, but I think the writing world is weirdly full of Slytherpuffs. Well, maybe not so weird, as I think a lot of writers hunger for success, but also want things to be fair. I think what determines whether or not you are Slytherin or Hufflepuff comes down to how you answer this one question: Would you keep writing even if it meant you never get published?

Really think about this for a minute. If you’ve been writing and writing and writing and writing for years and keep getting close, but no cigar, do you think Maybe someday or What can I change to finally get there? There is no right or wrong answer, only your own subjective response. It comes down to a matter of validation, whether or not you wait for the world to change to meet your writing goals, or whether you change your writing goals to meet the world. The former is Hufflepuff, the latter is Slytherin.

One of the pitfalls of Slytherin is that you can end up betraying your personal aesthetic or voice if you think it would help you achieve however you’ve defined Success. Instead of changing your work, maybe changing your definition of Success would better serve you in the long run.

That’s it! Let us know in the comments what House you are, and whether or not you think I’m way off base with my analysis.

              

13 Responses to What Your Hogwarts House Says About How and Why You Write

  1. Leandra Wallace Mar 13 2017 at 9:30 am #

    I’m Hufflepuff! And that seems kind of spot on, for me anyway. =)

  2. Nicole Mar 13 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    As a fellow Ravenclaw, I have to agree with your thoughts. When I write, I look at what aspect of my personality I want to think about and create characters appropriately. 75% of my writing is about something I’ve discovered about myself and what to explore with others.

  3. Laura Slate Mar 13 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    The Hufflepuff was so true for me!

  4. Dana Nuenighoff Mar 13 2017 at 12:13 pm #

    I’ve always saw myself wth both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff traits with Gryffindor usually being stronger. This is spot on.

  5. Patchi Mar 13 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Love this analysis! I’m a fellow Ravenclaw–writing fiction based on facts, such as a heavy load of history and/or science in my wordbuilding. Sometimes I worry I favor grammar over voice, but I can’t seem to write any other way 😉

  6. Dee Mar 13 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    Slytherin here, and personally, I define success on a per-story basis. What am I trying to achieve? Have I achieved it as hard as I can? (Wringing out emotions often features.) In that regard, fanfic was a hard forum to leave behind for orig fic, because there’s nothing like the instant feedback of the fandom audience as to the emotional impact of a story!

  7. Marina Mar 14 2017 at 3:16 am #

    I’m Slytherin, but this analysis doesn’t suit me at all. Ambition could be the drive to create the “perfect” story and not necessarily getting published. I liked the comments on the other houses, though.

  8. Melody Simpson Mar 14 2017 at 9:08 am #

    I LOVE this post!!!!! Also, I’m Gryffinclaw (though I’d be placed in Gryffindor) and these are spot on.

  9. Vanessa Mar 14 2017 at 10:27 am #

    The combo of whimsy/writing persona analysis in this post is so refreshing and I just dig it. Also, just in case someone hasn’t heard it yet, J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech is SO inspiring for writers. 🙂

  10. Amy S. Mar 15 2017 at 9:35 pm #

    I felt your Hogwarts House matrix was spot-on, but this evaluation doesn’t work for me as a Hufflepuff. I’m sensitive to criticism, even when I know it’s needed, and I really don’t like focusing on the minutia of my craft at all, even though I know it’s important. In my writing I zone in on my characters and their story, and the reason I write is to share the heart of these characters, and my heart along with it.

  11. Margaret Pinard Mar 31 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    Interesting…I feel like Gryffindor has been my badge for a long time, but Hufflepuff is really what I am without any pretense…been thinking my need for Justice has been eclipsed by my need to see my writing go forth…anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this fun archetypal interpretation! 🙂

  12. AT May 9 2017 at 9:53 pm #

    I think I am a Gryffindor.

    I remember being at a Creative Writing Showcase and hearing a person read from my class. The piece was good but it wasn’t anything different or life-changing. Secretly, I wished I was presenting at the showcase instead of him.

  13. Jordan R. Jun 22 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    Ha! This is so accurate! I’m a Ravenclaw, and am constantly thinking about the theme and how it is being communicated, and outlining, then reoutlining, etc. I love the actual writing part, too, but when I’m not writing I am constantly questioning the direction I chose and whether maybe another path might have been better.

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