Chris Columbus, et al. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. USA/UK, 2001.

I always get weird looks when I say that Severus Snape is my favorite character. I mean, let’s face it — he is kind of a terrible person. So let’s not confuse my appreciation for his character with condoning his flaws. In fact, I’d say that it’s because of those flaws that I gravitate toward reading or writing fanfiction where he is a major character. But this isn’t supposed to be a defense of Severus Snape, no — this is how to write him.

To be fair, this is how I write him in fanfiction and how I view and consider the character. And while I wouldn’t call this an “official fanfiction standard,” it’s my definition of what constitutes a well-portrayed Severus Snape.

So how to go about it? I can tell you all the descriptors I reserve for him, what kind of behaviors I observe, the adverbs and diction. But that’s not enough to produce a faithful and original portrayal. Mechanics aren’t enough. If you want beautiful original characters that have depth and meaning, they need to live. They are people. They have wants, needs, flaws, problems, histories, aspirations — they have a stake in their own existence. You are investigating their lives, revealing more of their character — not creating it.

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