Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

But I'm trying. Has it really been a month since my last post? Yeesh. I'd promise to do better, but let's face it: I'll probably do this again. I'm hoping this short post (because it will be short) will kickstart me into posting regularly again.

First off, the news: I sent my middle grade novel into the Utah Original Writing Contest and it passed all the basic formatting checks, so I'm in on that. I'll hear results in September and will report them to you, my readers. All 12 of you. I also attended the Books for Young Readers Symposium and met writers like Maggie Stiefvater and Nathan Hale. It was a good two day conference that didn't drain me but exposed me to what some good writers had to say about their craft. And, like always, I got inspired to write more.

I haven't gotten angry over books lately, except for the whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing. I'm against book burning; I think that although no book is perfect the vast majority of books have some redeeming value (Twilight included). However, should the zombie apocalypse come and I'm in need of toilet paper, I have my option picked out.

That was rude. But I meant it. Stay tuned for future rant.

Anyway, today is July 31st, otherwise known as Harry Potter's birthday. I went to a party celebrating it at a local restaurant and had a pint of butterbeer (it comes in pints).

(It didn't look this nice, but it tasted great)

So, here at least, there is a real party celebrating the birthday of a fictional character. J.K. Rowling, please accept my awe and admiration.

So here it is: instead of talking at you, like I normally do, I want to ask you why you think Harry Potter has made such a splash. Is it cross-cultural details (aka, Americans finding boarding school life fascinating), the development of a world (Quidditch, butterbeer, and other elements that can be pictured and recreated in our world, along with jargon like "muggles"), the characters, the plot, and politics...what is it? Every time I think about it, I have a new idea. Please, if you want to weigh in, post your thoughts below. If we can figure out what is working in the Harry Potter books, I think we'd all become better writers.

Mischief managed.


  1. I just finished rereading all 7 books a few weeks ago. And it was wonderful. What stood out to me this time around were the relationships between the characters. And not just Harry's relationships with everyone (dead and alive)--although those are fascinating--but the other characters relationships with each other as well (for example, Ron and Hermione's changing interactions with each other are fun to watch develop, and not just because they end up marrying each other. Rather, it's interesting to look at them as two people trying to understand and help Harry). Similarly, Voldemort's lack of relationships is interesting to look at when compared with all of the relationships of everyone else around him.

    Also, I feel like the story could be pretty great on it's own, but the relationships give the characters life by fleshing them out and preventing them from being one-dimensional representations of character traits.

    The other thing that is neat to me is the fact that J.K. Rowling could write a different set of books for nearly every other character. While Harry takes the main stage, her other characters are developed such that she could go on to write a book or two about them.

    Anyways, those are some thoughts (and I apologize if I didn't articulate them very well). But huzzah for Harry Potter!

  2. Thanks for commenting! I think you're totally right; the relationships do flesh out the characters and make them more real, especially when (I think) those relationships aren't always pretty. I'm thinking of how Ron gets jealous of Harry, specifically, and how the Weasleys have that family trouble with Percy. You know they care, but like all relationships, they have their sour moments. I also agree with your thought that Voldemort's lack of relationships makes him stick out. I think Harry and Voldemort are shadows of each other; had they chosen differently, they could have been the same person. But Harry has all these relationships and Voldemort chooses to remain distant.

    And you articulated them well. Again, thanks for commenting!