Monday, November 28, 2016

Joy and Wonder

Hello, everyone, and happy holidays!

Thanksgiving is over, so it's officially my favorite time of the year. The tree is up, I'm listening to Christmas music, and it's snowing outside. It looks like this:

Yes, my apartment overlooks a parking lot. But you can see the haze of falling snow and the way the maple tree looks lacy.

I'm in a good mood, despite the fact that I was out walking in this snow today because I'm enamored with the first snow of the Christmas season and because I don't trust myself or other drivers in the snow. Turns out I'm right not to; there were 2 people making turns while on their phones as I passed, and, as I said, it looks like this outside right now:

Distracted drivers on the phone, the ground covered with wet globs of half-melted ice...what could possibly go wrong? Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine. I'll tell you, I'm glad to be home for the rest of the day. No driving for me. Just writing.

The writing is going well. I'll have to do major revisions on my current work, but I like it so far despite its many gaping holes. I took a break over Thanksgiving, so I'm refreshed and ready to finish NaNoWriMo strong.

Thanksgiving was good. It was restful, and I got to spend it with extended family. We spent the holiday eating a lot and playing games, like card games, Telestrations, and bingo. Nice, chill weekend. I also may have reached a 7-minute mile while running. May have. Probably didn't. But the math is lining up too nicely to ignore.

Finally got my pics from the Haunted Half. I thought this one summed up about how I feel about maybe achieving my best time ever on the Weekend of Gluttony. I wish I was smiling more, but hey, I was a few miles into a half marathon and trying to pose as I ran.

I also saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It was good. I really liked the magical creatures, especially the thunderbird. And the niffler and occamy and demiguise. But mostly the thunderbird. Look at it!

It makes storms as it flies!

So, as I was watching, I was wrapped up in the wonder of the story and the world, just as I was with the original 7-book, 8-movie Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling's worldbuilding isn't perfect; I can list many, many issues with the wizarding world that cause some gaping plot holes. But why bother? Other people have already done it.

But I think one thing she's great at is introducing wonder to the reader. I think she does this by having a character who is new to the magical world, just like the reader/viewer is.

In the original books, Harry is new to magic. He doesn't know he's a wizard, and he hasn't been raised in the wizarding world the way Ron has. So, when he comes to Hogwarts and sees magic, it's for the first time. Everything is new and interesting to him, so he thinks about it and comments on it and is amazed by it, just like the readers are. We see his wonder, and we feel our own, and it feeds itself. Can you imagine the stories from Ron's perspective? He's grown up with magic, and sees nothing interesting about it. The first day of school would be just that: the first day of school.

For Harry, it's a step into a brand new world. And so it is for us, too. We're allowed to feel all the wonder available.

Fantastic Beasts does this too. I won't give spoilers to the plot or anything, but in case you haven't seen it yet and really don't want to be spoiled for it at all (I'm talking, you haven't even seen the trailers), then stop reading now.

In Fantastic Beasts, the No-Maj (Muggle) character of Jacob Kowalski is this character that helps the viewer see the wonder in the magical world. Every other character is enmeshed in the magical world, and even though Newt Scamander sees wonder in his creatures, he's used to them. Kowalski is non-magical and seeing the magical world in New York City for the first time. Just like us. The magic and the creatures are all new and wonderful to him, just as they are to us.

I think having a character that is new and amazed by the wonderful and amazing in a story can be helpful in establishing the world of the story. You see this happen a lot: Lucy Pevensie, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe being one example. Charles Marlow in Heart of Darkness being, perhaps, another. In both cases, the world comes alive through the eyes of a character seeing it for the first time, and it draws the readers in more.

Stories filled with wonder, like Fantastic Beasts, seem appropriate for the holiday season, when, I think, it's easier to see the world anew and appreciate magic in our lives we don't see as often. It's a time of joy and wonder and light. Before I go make some cocoa and watch the snow fall, I'd like to post this video. The #LightTheWorld campaign is put out by my church and it's all about service. The video is lovely. I hope you watch it and you have a wonderful week!

No comments:

Post a Comment