10 Things I Learned From J K Rowling, Part 2

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your humble host

I’m on a mission to see why Harry Potter is such a phenomenon – and whether it can teach us anything about storytelling. (Part 1 is HERE)

Chapter 2

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.

Allison 2 will keep you guessing at every turn

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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).

we went here! and that started all this!

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.

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your humble host

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!

11 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned From J K Rowling, Part 2

  1. Dan I sense your eventual ‘views to likes ratio’ could be an education for you … J K Rowling … the ultimate story teller … feel it … genius beyond analysis … it’s the way it is … magic … you have it or you don’t …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, we will see as the series unfolds. I don’t know if a lot of people are even viewing it because they feel they either know the stories or don’t feel like having some Johnny-come-lately casting disparaging remarks at their favorite author. Also, folks who have seen the movies and not read the books aren’t going to be interested in this analysis at all.

      But the views have been there because I recently started doing some StumbleUpon links to the blog. That has caused quite a jump in views but not much else. I’ll do a post on that in about a week or so, when it will make more sense, but had I not done the StumbleUpon, I’m not sure my views would be very high at all right now. This being a holiday week people tend to be off doing whatever and not doing their usual habits.

      November of last year was my highest number of views ever, though, for some reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m enjoying your dissection of probably the most read book under the bible. (Lol. I need to google that)
    I haven’t read the books. I tried but couldn’t get into it. Figured it was because it was a children’s fantasy. The movies kick ass though. I was so happy to find something I could enjoy with my children.

    I don’t mind telling…they gave each other a dark look…or whatever it was. I get tired of reading peoples descriptions of facial and body motions. He raised a brow, her lips rose. Damn. Everybody knows what a smile looks like etc. Why try to compartmentalize anger to he clenched his hands and pulled his brows together, when he threw her an angry glare works just as well for the most part. I know, I get the immersing the reader in the story, and I can see where descriptions work well, but really, sometimes a dark look is a dark look. I don’t need an example. It’s like a waste of my time.
    Just my opinion. 🙂 and yes, in my book, I bowed and chose showing 99% of the time. God forbid we piss of the writing Gods. They’ll whack me with a pen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think it’s like dialogue tags and adverbs and a lot of other stuff. You don’t want to use it all the time, you just want to use it when it’s the best way to go. There are plenty of times when dialogue tags work because the story is confusing without them. Same with an adverb – like you say, why take 10 words to say something if you can say it in one? And if your audience is “children” you would be better served by a different style than you might if the target was, say, 35-year-old women.

      But from what I’ve read you do a good job of all that stuff anyway!


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