BYOF (Fireworks)

I asked my son for a blog topic tonight, and (after I rejected a few ideas that were quite creative, but sparked nothing in my brain), he turned back to reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and tossed over his shoulder “Write about Professor Umbridge.”

You remember Professor Umbridge? She’s the woman from the Ministry of Magic who Fudge sends to take over as Headmistress of Hogwarts, after Dumbledore escapes to avoid being tossed into Azkaban. (Who can blame him? I mean, I doubt they’d let him have any lemon drops there!) Anyway, I started thinking about Umbridge…

  • Mean and nasty
  • Takes pleasure in squelching creative ideas
  • Fears truth
  • Removes art from the walls and replaces with stupid, narrow-minded rules
  • Sees the only true purpose of a pen as its ability to draw blood from the writer
  • Has a shrill, prissy voice that grates on your ear & blocks out more pleasant sounds
  • Makes cats look bad
  • Wears way too much pink

Who is this woman? Let’s face it–she’s your worst nightmare, your inner editor!

She makes Dumbledore wince, sends Professor McGonagall into fits, tortures Harry, confuses Ron, and makes Hermoine so mad she can only sputter. And she makes us worry, slow down, or stop writing.

Luckily, in writing this character, J.K. Rowling has once again given us a gift. She has personalized our inner witch, drawn her so beautifully onto the page that we know we are allowed to hate her, to ignore her, and to send her packing. As a reader, we have no doubt that Umbridge is on the wrong side of creativity, that she doesn’t belong anywhere near Hogwarts, or that it is our Fred & George’s job to tell her off.

In other words, the next time your inner editor tries to shove her way into your writing business, unpack those fireworks (don’t forget the dragon), and set them off under her nose.

Then watch the sparks fly & get writing.

Today’s comments–how do YOU recognize your evil editor in Professor Umbridge? Add to my list, and we can all watch for the signs!


  1. LK Hunsaker says:

    Nice analogy!

    As from where her name likely stems, my evil editor is likely to take offense (umbrage) when she finds mistakes and tries to shove me away from the work instead of giving me the chance to fix it. I don’t let her win for very long.


  2. Tricia says:

    She sucks the soul out of a story. She shines it till it’s dull.


  3. Great post, a very creative way to work to tie in a fictional character to the writing process.

    For me Umbridge as an evil editor doesn’t like waiting on the sidelines to long and wants to be in control. I’ve been pretty good at managing to keep her aside while working on my first drafts. Though I think I’ve upset her because she’s being very uncooperative in the revision process I’m trying to work on. 😛


    • beckylevine says:

      It is all about control, isn’t it. Umbridge (and the editor) doesn’t trust that anyone else might have a better idea than her! Good for you for upsetting her this round. 🙂


  4. Funny, as soon as I saw the topic, I thought “Inner Critic.” Great minds (or is that critical minds) think alike! Anyway, do you remember how Umbridge made Potter carve, “I will not lie,” into his hand? My inner critic tries to make me carve, “I will not write,” into mine … hah! I defy her! All I need to do is shut the door until I get through the first draft. Then, when she realizes she has no power over me, she melts away, like the other witch we love to hate.


  5. Traci VW says:

    “I will not lie, I will not lie,” written in blood. Yikes! “Writing fiction is telling lies,” Umbridge Editor says in that prissy, fake, nice voice that grates every nerve I have. “No!” I scream, “I banish you to the Forbidden Forest. Let the centaurs take you away! I will write all the lies I want and others will enjoy reading them.”


    • beckylevine says:

      I was thinking about the centaurs–trying to figure out how to work them in. Letting that evil editor be carried away by things she doesn’t believe in–that’s pretty cool!


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