Damn You Robbie Coltrane!

Aside from the theme song, I don't think there's a line I identify more with the Harry Potter franchise than Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid saying "You're a wizard, Harry!" It was used in so much promotional content. I heard it over and over again. And it's a great line. I tells a new audience to a new franchise what the story is about. This kid over here? He's a wizard and he didn't know it. Let's go have some hijinx!

Perfect. So what's the problem? Well, the kid who doesn't think he's special discovers he's extra special! is a pretty established trope in children's fiction. Hell, it's pretty frequent in adult fantasy/sci fi as well. Big things in little packages and all that. Oh no, I'm crippled! or No one likes me! or whatever and then bam, I have magic powers that more than compensates for any shortcoming I previously had (often erasing that shortcoming in the same stroke).

As with all my other writing, I am


of these kinds of things. They're not bad, not necessarily. They can still be awesome if the writing is awesome, but we've seen it SO many times. You're a wizard, Harry!

So here I am writing my first middle grade fantasy, and I make sure I have a completely mundane main character. His name is Mirza. He works in the stables as a groom. You know what? I'll go one better. He's a runt. He's small for his size, has trouble handling the horses, and the other grooms don't like him. (This should have been my first warning because now I've given him a deficiency to overcome.)

This was the character that was going to save the shahzadi. He did not have magical powers or any kind of special skills. He wasn't a thief. He wasn't a fighter. He knew how to raise cats to be good mousers and he got beat on by his father and the other grooms, so he was tough but psychologically scarred. And that little guy was going to have to do great things!

...but as I started writing, a whole sub-plot with Mirza's mother surfaced that I had not even thought of. My original plan was Introduction > Inciting Incident > Action > Resolution > The End. Somehow > Character Development snuck in there and all these things happen that I had never planned to have happen and a character says, "You're a wizard."



That's the sound of a 20-car pile-up on the highway after someone dropped Robbie Coltrane right in the middle of traffic. Mirza can't be a wizard! Everyone's expecting him to be a wizard! Just knowing it's a middle grade fantasy, there's a high probability that the kind is going to end up having some kind of magical powers. He's supposed to be different. He's mundane. He's the everyboy character! If every boy was short and beaten by his dad.

The problem? The story's better for it. The sub-plot is an awesome one and has directly affected the climax. He's a better character and I'm trying my damndest not to fall into that bottomless pit of cliche. I will have either walked the tightrope or just don't realize I'm already falling.

So here's my question to you. Is it possible in a MG/YA novel to have your character be a wizard and to actually call him a wizard? Or has Harry Potter ruined that for the next decade? Do I need to call him something else? Sorcerer, magician, magus, djinn, or what not?