Sympathy. Connecting with a character.
We were introduced to the Durslys by some amusing descriptions, but they didn’t seem to be terrible people, they just were a little snooty about their in-laws. Now we are informed they are quite cruel.
We know Harry Potter is an orphan but they told us in the opening of chapter 2 there are two children in the house but the pictures indicate only one. Harry’s place to sleep is in the cupboard under the stairs where he has to deal with spiders. The other child has a mountain of presents.
That makes us all go Aww.
Harry is bullied by his cousin Dudley. So now we are really pulling for Harry. Strange things happen that aren’t his fault but he keeps getting blamed. More empathy.
There are two Dun Dun dunnnn!! moments so far. One in chapter 1 and one here. The omni POV steps in and says something He knew it wouldn’t last. In ch 1 it was How very wrong he was. Allison teases me for doing that but I guess my audience isn’t kids so okay.
But about now I can see him wanting to leave.
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Chapter three baits the hook even more, but we already know about the wizards, we just wonder how much the Dursleys know. More mystery.
How much description of settings have we gotten? Not much. (See part 1; that’s part of why I’m reading this book)
We assume the settings from how the people act. Their demeanor. And hints. They had everything they wanted. His sister is on vacation in Majorca. Then Isle of Wight. And Dudley has a mountain of toys.
So they’re well off, and we assume a nice car (Mr. Dursley says it’s new) a nice home (fireplace with pictures) and a nice life (zoo and private school).
The street is prim and proper because nothing like Dumbledore is welcome here – and he is described in detail to show a bedraggled appearance. So messy isn’t welcome. Neither is weird.
So we describe the unusual and imagine the rest.
Again, there’s something I would’ve advised my critique partners to change, which is we don’t know that it’s a four bedroom house until it’s time for Harry to move upstairs. That could’ve probably been slipped in earlier and it wouldn’t seem like, oh, I need this now so I’ll tell you now. That reads more like an oops.
There are lots of tells. They looked at each other darkly. What’s that look like? But again, I give it a pass because it’s a kids book. And successful. But I would try not to do it.
Continue on with me and my analysis of Harry Potter and whether it is great storytelling. I’m starting to think it is. Part 3 tomorrow.
Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!