Changing a character; is it any better?

quill-and-paper
A while ago a wrote a post about one of my minor characters I was very unhappy with, I have sub-consciously try to write Snape into my book and it didn’t work. I have finally got around to re-writing him, his part in the plot is still the same, he is responsible for, or at least conspires towards a very unpleasant action however I have made him appear more benign and slightly strange. Here is the before and after, let me know what you think.

‘My name is Alan of Greybridge I am a Wizard of the order of Commutates. I neither know nor care who any of you are. It is my unfortunate duty to teach you the basics of magical theory. You will address me a sir at all times. You will listen and take in everything I say, I do not make a habit of repeating myself. I may test you by asking a question, you will answer it correctly first time or suffer my displeasure.’ At this pint he reached for cane that was on his desk, if was 3ft long and despite it thickness very subtle as he demonstrated by swishing through the air. Most the boys including Tybalt looked on apprehensively.

‘We will make a start by looking at the eight orders of magic.’ He turned to the board and drew and eight pointed star. ‘The orders are Potentiae, Defunctus, Commutatea, Abditus, Tuitus, Caratus, Adfectus and Arsus.’ As he said each order he wrote them on a point on his start, starting back at the first point he continued. ‘These orders specialise in power, necromancy, transformation, illusion, shield, healing, mind control and elemental magic.’’ He had labelled all the points, not that Tybalt could read it. He turned to face the class. ‘Wizards are not limited to using just one type of magic some can use several.’

‘Sir?’ a tall blond hair boy at the end of the row put his hand up. ‘What about the ninth order, where do they appear on the star?’

‘There is no ninth order!’ he glared at the boy looking extremely angry.
‘But sir’ the boy persisted, very foolishly in Tybalt’s opinion. ‘My father says there was a ninth order who,’

He didn’t get to finish the sentence, Alan grabbed the boy by his hair dragging him screaming to his desk, he pulled him over the desk grabbing his cane with his free hand started savagely beating him, not caring weather the cane fell on his bottom, back or legs. At first the boy struggled, but Allen held him by his hair firmly, after the tenth blow the boy stopped struggling and lay on the desk sobbing while Alan continued to hit him. Eventually he stopped and threw the boy on the floor where he curled up and carried on sobbing. Out of breath very red with his robe hanging off one of his shoulders, Allen turned to the other now terrified boys.

‘There is no ninth order! It is an abomination! It will never come back all you need to know is that. Any questions?’ Tybalt looked down at the desk trying not to make eye contact, horrified at what he had just witnessed.

The new version

The door open and a powerfully built middle aged man appeared wearing yellow robes. He looked at the five boys waiting they all looked at him nervously, he paused for a few second then smiled. Tybalt could help but notice the smile did not quite reach his eyes.

‘Well come in we mustn’t waste the whole day dilly dallying!’

The boys trooped in after him with Tybalt at the back. The room was set up as a classroom with six tables in rows of two, each with two chairs behind them. There was a larger desk in front on a slightly raised platform, behind that desk was a large black board taking up most the wall.

‘Sit down, fill up from the front.’

All the boy did as they were told meaning Tybalt was left on the second row by himself. The man stood on the platform to the left of the desk he grasped the front of his robes with both hands and addressed the class.

‘My name is Alan of Greybridge I am a Wizard of the order of Commutates. It is my fortunate duty to teach you the basics of magical theory. You will address me a sir at all times. You will listen and take in everything I say, if you don’t learn the theory how do you expect to become a great wizard! If you don’t understand anything then ask, don’t leave my classroom without understanding the topic of the day or we will have both wasted our time! I may test you by asking a question, always take a second to think of the answer. Then stand up and speak clearly, I can’t abide muttering. Young people do nothing but mutter nowadays.’

Tybalt glanced at some of the other boys to judge their reaction to his speech, was it just him that thought he was a bit strange?

‘We will make a start by looking at the eight orders of magic.’ He turned to the board and drew and eight pointed star. ‘The orders are Potentiae, Defunctus, Commutatea, Abditus, Tuitus, Caratus, Adfectus and Arsus.’ ……………

‘Sir?’ a tall blond hair boy at the end of the row put his hand up. ‘What about the ninth order, where do they appear on the star?’

‘There is no ninth order!’ he smiled at the boy as if he was trying to make up for his short sounding answer.

‘But sir’ the boy persisted, very foolishly in Tybalt’s opinion. ‘My father says there was a ninth order who,’

‘Young man this is magical theory not history, there may have been fifteen magical orders in the past but knowing this will not help us in our pursuit of magical excellence. There are currently eight orders. That is all we need to know!’

The boys opened his mouth as to argue but then thought better of it and closed it again. Alan smiled and nodded at him.

‘Good if we are all ready to continue, unless anyone is about to ask me about the order of Fulgur, started 250 years ago by the Wizard Eric who believed he could increase his power by harnessing the power of lightning. The order ended after his untimely death during a storm.’

The class all laughed nervously.

Better or worse?

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13 thoughts on “Changing a character; is it any better?

  1. The magical theory sounds well built, but I do wonder about the parallel between “There is no such thing as the ninth order” and the pronouncement by Dolores Umbridge that there “is no need to practice defense against the dark arts”. I know it is a stretch, but I couldn’t help remembering that same obdurate attitude the adult presents in the face of a student challenging his authority. Perhaps I am just looking for connections because the first draft definitely reminded me of Snape. I found it interesting that you have your main character observing this exchange rather than being the one to challenge the professor. Is he intended to be an ‘outsider’ to this class? His placement in seating suggests that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well spotted he is an outsider and there is a very good plot reason why he isn’t the one asking the questions. Something happens latter in the scene. I’m trying to avoid Harry Potter parallels but they keep sneaking in. In one draft he had two friends one of whom was a clever girl with bushy hair. I hadn’t even noticed what I had done until a friend pointed it out!

      Liked by 1 person

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