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Get on with it, Potter

21 Jan 10 | Re: Writerly nit-picking

Been reading the Harry Potter books, and very much enjoying them. I must say I do find that a lot of the moaning about JK Rowlingova’s (as she’s called in the Czech Rep) writing style a bit churlish and misplaced - they’re for kids, and very readable. But having got to book number five, there is one habit of hers that is bothering me.

Here’s a quote for you by way of illustration:

The injustice of it all welled up inside him so that he wanted to yell with fury. It it hadn’t been for him, nobody would have known Voldemort was back! And his reward was to be stuck in Little Whinging for four solid weeks... How could Dumbledore have forgotten him so easily? Why had Ron and Hermione got together without inviting him along too? How much longer was he supposed to endure Sirius telling him to sit tight and be a good boy; or resist the temptation to write to the stupid Daily Prophet and point out that Voldemort had returned?

There’s a lot of this kind of thing - interior monologues pondering the as-yet-unanswered questions that the reader is meant to ask him or herself. But come on - these are stories with a strong element of mystery, so you expect the reader to wonder what is happening, but you don’t actually write all the questions out, do you? It’s as if Charles Dickens had written:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Now, you might wonder, why have I told you that? What was so good about these times, and which times am I talking about? What was so bad about them? How, indeed, can times be the best and the worst at once? Perhaps they are good for some people and bad for others? Perhaps some really interesting events are taking place, that I will tell you about in a minute, after I have finished asking you all these silly questions. Can I even expect my readers to read as far as this, without skipping a bit further down the page...

If you ask me, it detracts a bit from the mystery and interrupts the narrative flow.

Posted by NED RYERS at 18:35

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