July 26, 2007

Why Harry Potter

What Rowling doesn't have going for her:
  • >> Solid grasp of punctuation (grrrrrr)
  • >> Strong pacing
  • >> Economy
  • >> Any idea that names precede character development
  • >> Great originality
What she does:
  • >> Poster child for "show, don't tell," sometimes ad nauseum
  • >> Fundamental conflicts, both good v. evil and child v. adult
  • >> Characters who are recognizable "types" but still all individuals with their own goals, preferences, habits and failings
  • >> Deep understanding of the myriad ways in which people are cruel to each other
  • >> Humor
  • >> Eye and ear for mannerisms
  • >> Main character who is the reader's stand-in for the introduction to all that is weird, wonderful and scary

July 02, 2007

Being a Writer

One of the standard pieces of advice for aspiring writers is to identify one's self as a writer, claim it as part of one's identity. I've always resisted doing that.

Part of my reaction is that I don't like being tied down to a single identity. It feels like being a butterfly pinned to a board, wings outspread, and labeled. Every one I've seen like that was dead. Not that being alive in that situation appeals any more. I've spent a good chunk of my life flitting from display case to display case, and I want to be able to do it again if warranted.

The other reason not to identify myself as a writer is that I'm pretty sure I could stop, unlike most writers I know. Why don't I? After all, writing is a vale of tears, self-torture, humiliation on demand, etc. ETC.

Yeah, right. This stuff is a hoot.

Where else in life do I get to make up as much nonsense as I like and persuade people to take it seriously? Where else can I march people around without worrying about hurt feelings and trampled rights? Where else can I funnel the creative urge, which makes me edgy and unsatisfied if not indulged, into something that has a shot making its way in the world? Where else can I stretch myself this much, learn and risk failure without real-world consequences?

And how much of that would change if I told myself I was a writer? How much more seriously would I have to take it if it were something I am instead of just something I do?

No thanks. I think I'll stretch my wings a bit longer on my own before I go looking for that pin.