Veritaserum. The magical potion that makes one speak nothing but the truth. For me it has become an illness. An illness that attacks creativity. The idea for such a potion is self-evident. Imagine there to be magic. Imagine you could ''bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper in death.'' A truth serum? Top of the list.
Now the difficult thing when writing in a magical universe like Harry Potter, is to remember that magic is just a different method. Sometimes it will seem highly superior to the Muggle way. Sometimes it is astonishingly old fashioned and even backward. What it never is, is a universal solution to all kind of problems.
Sadly enough many fanfication authors, and maybe even more fanfiction readers, seem to think of it that way. And Veritaserum becomes the magical mess-remover for all complicated and angsty plot lines.
The favourite field of application for this potion is of course the tragic case of Sirius Black. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the character of Sirius. I think killing him of like that was a waste. I write stories about him because I feel there is so much more to tell. So the question is... how can we save him? Now, before you raise your hand, remember that we want to write a story. A story needs a plot. If possible an intriguing, original plot.
Possible summary: There was a problem. I took a potion. The problem was solved.
Anyone think that one is fascinating? Yeah, me neither. So for Merlin's sake, forget that damn Veritaserum! If you want good reasons, here are a few:
J.K.R. stated herself that Veritaserum is unreliable, and therefore never to be used at a trial, much like a Muggle polygraph. That's why it could not be utilized to prove Sirius' innocence in the books.
Yes. Did you notice? It is NEVER used to PROVE anything. It's a device to get information. Whether that information is reliable is a questionable matter.
Sirius was innocently imprisoned for 12 years. He was on the run or hiding for another 3 years. Now, did anyone ever wonder why he didn't simply demanded to be questioned under Veritaserum?
For me, as an author, it's a question of pride, credibility and creativity to NOT use Veritaserum but find another way. That's what we call a plot.
In real life there are no quick and fast instant solutions. And thankfully there is no such thing in Rowling's magical world. Do we all long for it sometimes? Of course. But if we do, we are just looking for comfort, not for an intriguing story to read. Stories need conflict. The author's job is to solve it. So, as an author, we should embrace it! And see what lies behind the next cliffhanger...
; ) Zaira