I want the premise to be that throughout the 20th century, witches and wizards have faced a steep decline in numbers and due to the Cold War, secrecy has become more important, but with the fast development of technology, magic could cease to exist soon. I plan to have a school and the elite school be in the US with many nationalities. I also want to add "blood status" such as pure/half bloods and muggle borns without those names. Is this too similar to Harry Potter?

I know this might be hard to do,but I want part of their lives to be the same as Hogwarts years, but not the one book per year.

Thank you to everyone who has already responded. What if I try to put the story in an alternate universe like Man in the High Castle style. That why magicians and normal people can work together.

  • 2
    When you look very broadly at things, especially books, it’s very easy to find new creations that are “too similar” to something else. It’s the details that matter. There are plenty of rehashes of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet that clearly lack that detail. If you’re into metaphors, think of it like this: every lake looks pretty much the same, underneath the surface is where all the life and uniqueness is. (TL;DR as long as the nitty-gritty is different enough, the superficial similarities don’t matter.)
    – Lea
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 20:11
  • Your world looks similar to Harry Potter's, yes, but what about your story, your characters - are they also very similar?
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 21:36
  • Similarly, but witches and wizards can loose their powers as the "Muggles"(I can not call them that, I know) can edit out their magic genes if they know where to look for it.
    – user52912
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 23:02
  • Also, I plan to focus more on many characters such as what their lives were like rather than one special boy or girl.
    – user52912
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 23:11
  • There is no Writing question here. You have Hogwarts as a location for a teen X-Men conflict. That's as good as anything else – people will recognize it, sure. That's what genre is about.... Now work on your characters and what they do to each other. That other stuff is not the story, it's the backdrop.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 4:05

5 Answers 5


If you steal from one person it's plagiarism, if you steal from 5 it's research.

This question keeps coming up on forums, and it's almost always about HP. There is something about HP that seems to trap people's minds. It must have something to do with it being a children's book, and maybe the only series people have read.

To me this sounds like someone how has never eaten anything but pizzas. They are now trying to cook a new dish, but they can't imagine anything but a pizza. The only solution is to try other food, and expand the pallet.

It does not need to be reading, but there are lots of books, movies, and TV shows that can give you other aspects of how to write Magic Schools, or just urban fantasy. I think once you study those, you won't feel like your work just copies HP, and you will be able to mix and match from many fictions. And just maybe even add something of your own.

And no matter what you do, you do have to name everything yourself, or use folklore names that no one owns.


It is only "too close" to Harry Potter if it is targeted at children, as Harry Potter is, or copies too many of the themes: Don't write about a Quidditch style game. Don't write about moving staircases. In fact don't write about anything that you cannot find in some earlier fiction that predates Harry Potter: Elves, cloaks of invisibility, magic rings, dragons, that is all fair game. Do not write about anything you can only find in Harry Potter, that is likely invented by JK Rowling. Invent your own stuff.

There were many books written about "magic school" before Harry Potter, the American TV Series "The Magicians" ran for five years, won awards, and was about "Brakebill's University", a magic school strictly for university-age magicians. It feels nothing like Harry Potter.

You can do a similar thing.

Just don't forget that JK Rowling is a billionaire, with billionaire partners, and they all have an obligation to protect their IP (intellectual property) or lose it. And they will not risk losing it. This has nothing to do with whether you earn money or not, if their lawyers don't shut you down,they risk somebody else citing you as precedent to defend their own profit-making rip-off. So they will go to the expense of suing you.

Add on top of that, Agents and Publishers won't risk a dime on something they think is a rip-off of the IP of an existing author, or too derivative of that, be it Rowling or King or Dan Brown or whomever.

It is possible to be original in the magic fantasy realm, Harry Potter did not kill the category. Just make sure you create your own world and magic. Don't write the story you wish Rowling had written, with your own little twists.

Also, know that just changing the names from Muggle or Half-Blood doesn't defeat copyright at all. These cases are not tried on technicalities, they are tried before juries of people that can see through such transparent trickery. That's why we can't get away with copying Harry Potter by just rewriting every sentence and changing all the names. Humans can tell it is the same thing, if they suspect we ripped off Rowling, we are toast.

My personal opinion is anything with children protagonists is probably too close, the comparison to Potter is inevitable. It would sound like copycat fiction.

I'd find a good reason to make your students adults. All the Potter books were actually mystery stories; come up with your own mysteries.

  • Thanks. I thought I could do part of a magic school BUT, instead of focus on one kid going to a magical school, I focus on certain questions such as "pre-Hogwarts" and "post-Hogwarts." I also want to add a POV from a Muggle of the weird events of the world and what they might think.
    – user52912
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 23:12
  • 2
    @user52912 This sounds like fanfiction, at best, and fanfiction is an infringement of copyright. Even if you don't use characters from the original work, settings and plot elements can be trademarked. Such cases are tried by juries of humans, and do not rely on technicalities: You can't just change the names of people and things and claim it is different; the jury will decided if it is similar enough that you are ripping off Rowling. And she and her partners have billions of dollars at stake and an army of lawyers to shut down even the hint of copyright or trademark violation. Continued...
    – Amadeus
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 11:07
  • 2
    @user52912 Invent your own thing. Pre and Post Hogwart's belongs to JK Rowling. As I said, if readers would know that is what you are talking about, then so would a jury. If you want to write you have to invent your own characters and your own settings, and your own plots.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 11:16
  • 1
    I think you might be overstating the case a bit, see my answer, below: Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 17:05

Very little about the setting of Harry Potter itself is completely original or innovative, so in that sense you're okay. However, the fact that you're referencing specific Harry Potter elements (muggles, Hogwarts) in describing your own book does make your work sound derivative.

However, that doesn't mean you can't still write it. Lev Grossman's The Magicians is often described as "Harry Potter for adults," or "Harry Potter goes to college," and the author has openly acknowledged his debt to both Rowling and CS Lewis. But it was a huge bestseller and even became a tv series.

The best advice is to write your own story, and bring as much originality and your own voice to it as you can. If it's a strong-enough book, people won't be thinking about Harry Potter when they read it, even if there are some similar settings or themes.

  • 1
    Yes, I mentioned The Magicians in my answer, I don't think that felt like Harry Potter at all. I did immediately recognize it was "college for magicians" it did not have, really, any of the same elements, and was definitely not for kids. (.e.g a main female protagonist gains enormous power by drinking a half gallon of thick white god semen.) I think T.M. is a great example of grabbing a best-selling theme, forgetting all the H.P. details, and re-imagining, with a new plot, new characters, new relationships, different magic, etc. Do it again! In medieval Europe, this time. (not Merlin though).
    – Amadeus
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 17:33
  • 1
    Oops, I missed that reference in your answer. I haven't seen the TV series, did you read the books? The author basically comes right out and admits "This is HP for adults" (although it's even more of a --again, acknowledged --Narnia ripoff). I imagine they downplayed the HP similarities for the series. // The point being, that I don't think it's as stark as you paint it. I don't think it particularly makes for great writing, most of the time, but a few derivative elements are not enough to put you in court. Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 17:55
  • I did not read the book; I just noticed the pilot on SYFY and gave it a shot. Perhaps the books are a good example of how to avoid infringement; I believe back around the first movie deal, I read that Rowling (and partners) let very little slide, they are pretty quick on the draw with the "cease and desist" letters. Perhaps the books show how to walk the border without stepping over.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 18:44
  • I don't know what the author thinks but The Magicians is about as far from HP as possible. It's a book about depression, chasing a high, and how magic is as mundane as anything else once you are used to it.
    – Andrey
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 19:50

In a post-Potter world, anything with a magic school in it is going to remind people of Harry Potter. Yes, there are other successful stories based on magic schools; IMHO, that just leaves less room for yet another one. My friend Alma Alexander wrote a YA series set in a magic school but sadly, it was not embraced by the reading public. For now I think you're going to be paddling uphill with this setting. (In a decade or two, who knows?)

Could your story do without a school? Maybe training in magic is passed down orally, by lore, outside any official organization, in the margins of society, only understood and practiced in dangerous places. Or you have to apprentice to an established practitioner, a member of the Guild—that's a well-used trope, too, but there's a lot more room for your own spin on it since there isn't a Potter-sized elephant in the room.


So Harry Potter is not the first story to do "Teenager Learns Magic" in the world... just the most famous. It's also not the last. Consider that "Sabrina the Teenage Witch". The first appearance of the character was in 1962 in comic books, but even then the more famous live action sitcom debuted in fall 1996 (Harry Potter wouldn't debut until June of 1997). Sabrina is the daughter of a human woman and a Warlock (the series' term for male witches) and most of the plots revolved around her learning how to use her magic, which witches have to keep secret from non-witches (here called mortals). Hell, she even lived with her aunts, rather than her birth parents.

Now there are differences. Sabrina attended school, but it was a mortal public high school. Her magic was largely taught in a home school fashion by her two paternal aunts. Harry lived with his maternal aunt, who was the sister of his born to muggles mother and learned magic at a private(?) boarding school (boarding schools are very rare in the United States, at least prior to college).

Both had magic only communities too, though again, they were executed differently. Sabrina had "The Other Realm/Magic Realm" which was a different dimension that could be accessed from a closet door, while Harry Potter had Diagon Alley and Hogsmede which were places on Earth that were difficult for muggles to access.

To point out post-Harry Potter world, the Disney Channel Series "Owl House" depicts a world where Witches (here a gender neutral term. Males are also called witches) and Demons live and work, that is separate from the "Human World" but accessible via certain magical devices. Like both Sabrina and Harry Potter, the series revolves around a character learning magic, initially as an apprentice to a Witch, who comes to realize she's not a good teacher and enrolls her student into a magic school (not boarding like Harry Potters, but does retain elements of the Houses in that the uniforms are color coded to a Witches chosen "tract" or "major", an area of magical, making it more akin to a U.S. Magnet School (a public high school for specialized study). The series also mocks Harry Potter and Hogwarts. The popular sport has an element similar to the Golden Snitch (apparently all sports in this world have this as a game play element) that, upon discovery, causes the main character to rant about how it renders all the other efforts of the team pointless. The school also used to determine student's placement into tracts by the "Choosey Hat", until the Hat decided that eating the prospective students was more important than sorting them. Now the school just lets the kids choose for themselves.

As mentioned above, you can have these elements, but the stories, characters, and world should largely be your own. Going to a school for kids with powers isn't locked to just fantasy either. X-men is a school for superheroes (well mutants) and there were several sucessful book series in the Star Wars Universe about Padawans learning to become Jedi.

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