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I am designing a magical world for which I have plenty of ideas but I am worried if they are too much like Harry Potter.

Please look through this list and tell me which ideas are too much like Harry Potter, and what I can do with the ones that aren't so I can make them distinguishable, so it doesn't sound like I'm just copying.

  1. Wands and brooms - I know wands are alright. I am going to give wands a base to be made from, and I am going to include a ritual to make them. but I want to add brooms as well.

  2. Robes and old clothes - I want to add these clothes, because older style clothes and robes seem more fitting for magic.

  3. Old houses - I want to have my sorcerers live in old houses and cottages from the early 20th century, Victorian era, or Tudor Era because it seems more fitting.

  4. Paper - My sorcerers aren't going to have electronic equipment, no phones, no tv, no computers. So is using magical newspaper, letters and posters too much like Harry Potter?

  5. Hidden buildings - I am not going to create an alley of shops, but I am going to make shops, pubs and villages in hidden locations throughout UK

  6. Set in UK - My books are going to be set in the UK. I picked the UK because we have a wide variety of old buildings, houses and huts that I thought would be a good fit.

  7. Magical system - I am going to create a magical democratic system of laws and rules. I am also going to create departments that deal with various things.

  8. Racism - I would like to include racism towards, creatures, sorcerers with extra powers and those born from humans, or is that too much like Harry Potter.

  9. Prison - I want to create a prison on a rocky cliff, but it is going to be different from Azkaban.

  10. Dark army - My main villain is going to be female and I am going to brand her followers and I am going to give her a mark, but I am going to make it different and I am going to giver followers magical jewellery, that is branded with its symbol, to communicate

  11. Spells - I am going to create some spells that do the same things, but I am also going to make different ones and I am going to give them all different names.

  12. Vaults - I want to create a place of underground vaults, that are used to store precious and dangerous things, but I am not going to call it a bank.

  13. Bigger on the inside - I am thinking of using, bags/structures that are bigger on the inside

  14. Creatures - I am going to create beasts for my world, and I am going to make some of them ride-able, but I also want to create different species of dragons and I am going to make some creatures, pets.

  15. Vehicles - I was thinking of using pirate like ships, and land vehicles (chariots, old cars etc.) that can fly and move on their own.

  16. Potions - I am thinking having potions that do the same things they do in Harry Potter as well as my own, but I am going to give them all different names.

  17. Portals/teleportation - My world needs some form of magical teleportation, but I am not going to call it vaporation. Can I include objects that can make portals?

  18. Tournament - I am considering making one book about a magical tournament, but I am going to structure it differently and give it a different name.

  19. Non sorcerers - I need a name to give to non magic people.

  20. Memories - I am thinking of creating a way to see into people's memories, but if I can't use a pool, please give me an idea.

  21. Sports - I want to create a magical sport for my world. Is that too much like Harry Potter? If it isn't then can you please give me a starting point?

  22. Wraiths - I am going to create dark skeletal, cloaked creatures. They are going to be wraiths and they are going to feed on souls, not happiness, but can I put in the cold effect.

  23. Animals - I am thinking of having witches/warlocks that turn into animals, but I need a different name for them.

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    Most of these things are general Fantasy/Mythology things. 99% of what JK Rowling " created" existed already, she just made some tweeks and put it all together.
    – A.bakker
    Mar 2, 2023 at 7:22
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    @A.bakker True, but using all of these things within the same universe and just changing the names would still almost certainly be recognizable as Harry Potter. Given the frequency with which the OP seems uncertain about taking an idea straight from Harry Potter and then just changing the name, I think it's clear that the answer here is that until OP learns how to generate their own ideas this story is very likely going to be too much like Harry Potter.
    – Onyz
    Mar 2, 2023 at 12:27
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    There's a rather large difference between the Tudor period and the Victorian era! Hardly anyone in the UK would have lived in a 'hut' in the early 20th century. Mar 2, 2023 at 15:16
  • It's an interesting question, because I see a lot of generic material similar to Harry Potter.
    – Sayaman
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:50
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    Unfortunately you'd be hard pressed to avoid it - Harry Potter is really just a sort of compendium of pretty much all the well-known magical / mythical / fantasy tropes. So if you want to use them, you're probably going to fall afoul of Harry Potter often enough. The broomstick-riding wand-waving potion-brewing witch / wizard has been around a lot longer than Harry Potter. But please, if you can, avoid - a) wands are guns and spells are bullets, and b) the Golden Snitch!
    – komodosp
    Mar 6, 2023 at 11:32

3 Answers 3

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"Is my story too much like Harry Potter?" is a question that gets asked here with alarming frequency. However, this is the first one I've come across which lacks any mention of what, IMO, would be the two plot points most likely to invite comparisons with Harry Potter: a "chosen one" as the main character, and a magical school at which they attend. That alone is enough for me to suggest that no, your story is not too much like Harry Potter.

Your world may have similarities with Harry Potter, but that series' influence is so great that any story set in a magical version of the modern world is likely to be compared to it. I'm not going to address all 23 of your points in detail, because that's a lot to go through, but I will say that:

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 14, 16, 17, and 23 are very common in the fantasy genre (indeed, many of them were common before JK Rowling came along), and will only invite comparisons with specific works if your implementation of them is exactly identical to those works. You even acknowledge how 2 and 3 "seem more fitting" - they seem that way because they're so intrinsic to the genre.
  • 18 isn't even exclusive to the fantasy genre; it's just an outright cliché.
  • 13 is more commonly associated with Doctor Who than Harry Potter.
  • 9 isn't something JK Rowling invented; Azkaban is literally just Alcatraz.

As a final note, some of your points ask us to give you ideas. We're not going to do that, as idea generation is not something we do here. It's ultimately up to you to decide which aspects of your world you want to change to avoid looking like a Harry Potter rip-off, and how you're going to change them.

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  • Alcatraz isn't on a cliff as Azkaban is depicted.
    – hszmv
    Mar 2, 2023 at 15:47
  • I definitely recall Azkaban being on a rocky island surrounded by the sea, much like Alcatraz was, and that Sirius Black had to swim to shore as part of his escape.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 2, 2023 at 16:12
  • Perhaps in the book. OP is referring to the movie depiction, which places it on a rock jutting out of a waterfall.
    – hszmv
    Mar 2, 2023 at 16:15
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Harry Potter is the copyrighted work of J. K. Rowling, meaning effectively that others are forbidden from passing off her work as their own. Additionally, certain names and terms used in Rowling's works may be trademarked, meaning that others may not use them in their own works without license.

As long as copyright and trademarks are not infringed, there is no reason why similar works couldn't be written.

Making a work too similar Rowling's Harry Potter/Wizarding World works could lead to accusations of being too derivative and lacking in imagination.

The list in the question is basically a list of tropes. As sites such as TV Tropes shows, any given trope may be used by a wide variety of different works, and it is also difficult to invent an entirely new trope. Tropes are not protected by copyright or trademark law, so you're free to use whatever tropes you wish in your work.

If you're concerned with seeming "too Harry Potter-ish", I would suggest that you add and focus on some tropes that are different from those of Harry Potter and work to ensure that whatever the trope similarities that may exist, your story is your own.

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The areas I see as most problematic are the Dark Mark, Spells that do something similar, and potions that do something similar are going to give you problems, since it might be some spells are exclusive to problems in Harry Potter. For example, a spell similar to Expecto Patronus will stand out as ripping off, as in Harry Potter Lore, the spell does three things, one of which was a last-minute addition and the other two are counters for unique creatures within the book. With the magical creatures, there's a little bit of a helpful hint if you get the right copy of the "Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them Book" (in the original book release, the creatures whose names are given a capitol letter in the text are original creations by J.K. Rowling, while the creatures with lower case letters at the start of their names are based on myths and legends that are in the public domain. So "Nifflers" and "Fwoopers" are not something you should go near. But creatures like dragons, unicorns, and trolls are fine to adapt as your own. Rowling used a mix of original creations and her interpretation of myth. Some cases the thing being described is based on a real myth or thing... but given an original description... such as the "Didriclaw" which is a bird that muggles call Dodo. Not looks like a Dodo... the two names direct to the same animal. Muggles believe the Dodo is extinct, where as wizards know the Didriclaw can naturally teleport.

As far as the "see people's memories" the actual ability is not unique to J.K. Rowling and there are lots of people who can do that (such as Cal Kestis from the Jedi series of games) though Cal needs an item imprinted with a force echo of the owner to see any memories. The Pensive in Harry Potter is quite unique in this regard, but the way the memory is visualized once it's looked in is fairly consistent, with the viewer being unable to interact with the people in the memories. This rule was seen as far back as "A Christmas Carol" when the Ghost of Christmas Past explains that while Scrooge is experiencing his memories as if they were happening for real all over again, he cannot interact with them as the past is immutable. They're just recreations of Scrooge's own previous actions, which is how the memories act in Harry Potter when Harry tries to talk to them. So... experiencing someone else memories in a realistic fashion is A-Okay. Sticking your head into a birdbath filled with liquid memories of someone is not so...

Other than this most of the elements you described are not Rowling originals. Most of fiction is based off previous stories and do things in new or different ways. Some may even make tongue and cheek reference their inspiration (such as in Owl House, which has theme of a magic school in common with Harry Potter... and very little else. That still pokes fun at Harry Potter, often to deliberately point out they are very different.). For example, in Owl House, when Luz is asked to pick her magical major (the school sorts students... but by type of magic they want to specialize in, much like how colleges have majors and study tracts). Luz asks if they have some kind of article of clothing to make the choice for them, the principal says they used too but there were complications with that method (a cut scene shows the hat being placed on a very Harry Potter like child, then forms eyes like a mouth like the sorting hate, and declaring in a demonic voice, "Now I feast". The hat's brim then closes around the child's entire head like a venus flytrap and we cut back to the principal, who shudders at the memory. Even more hilarious, the scene ends with a loud crash being heard offscreen and a terrified principal leaving the office shouting, "Oh No, The Choosy Hat is loose again." Adding to the hilarity. Another episode has Luz playing a sport popular among witches, that they manage to end up in a point lead towards the end of the game time, when it's revealed that a member of the other team caught a "Rusty Smidge" which means they automatically win the game. Luz goes into a long rant about it, that's clearly directed at the Golden Snitch in Harry Potter, and how the mechanics of it effectively nullify the effort and entire point of the rest of team in a team sport. Her friends try to calm that down by explaining that most of the games witches play have some kind of mechanism that does this in their rules set.

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