J.K. Rowling plays nicely with all the tropes and genres..


Our love worn copy of Harry Potter

I’ve been thinking about Harry Potter today in relation to writing my own novel.  I dusted off my son’s battered old copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, abandoned now that my son is twenty and moved out into the muggle world as a young adult, and began rereading it, with an eye for what drives this little volume that started a worldwide reading frenzy.

After a few chapters, I caught up on a few things that I had seen before in many, many books happily read over the years.  At the most obvious, this is a classic coming of age story.

Harry has the ability to grow, and the reader, if he starts reading this as a child, will mature right along with him, can relate to him from every aspect of what it is to be a kid.  From what he is required to eat as opposed to what he wants to eat, from  the tedium of studies, to happiness with professors  he enjoys, and the schoolyard bullies, lurking around the corners, kids, and adults who remember being a child, can relate to him.

Then there are the friendships that develop as Harry gets to know Hermione Granger, Ron and the whole Weasley clan, and learns how to relate with the other students.  He goes from a lonely child to a boy with close friendships.

Finally, there are the adult figures.

Harry has absolutely no experience with adult characters beyond the Dursleys, and he has no reason to trust any adults.   But with the arrival of childlike, if intimidating Hagrid, Harry begins to see adults in a new light, and this will continue as he grows and meets Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and the rest of the cast, keeping in mind, he meets the not so nice ones as well, but chooses who he will associate with, once he has freedom of choice beyond the Dursley House.   Thus, Harry Potter comes of age before our very eyes through his interactions with humanity, or rather Wizards and Half Bloods and Muggles who touch his life, and change him mostly for the better.

Next, Harry Potter is a rags to riches story.   He sleeps in a cupboard, and lacks bedroom, pets, toys, friends, family and good inside or outside activity.  He has no one who sees or cares what is happening to him at the Dursley’s hands.  Creature comforts as simple as a decent bed and a good meal are denied him.  Just a couple of chapters in, he is eating savory sausages,  has a protector and companion in Hagrid, and finds a new place, richly vibrant and alive in contrast to his life with the Dursleys.  The money wealth is only secondary with all that comes his way.

Last, but only because this is such an involved subject, the tropes available just endless, Harry Potter is the classic tale of Good against Evil, and the struggle of our protagonist to learn about himself, the sacrifices his parent made, the eventual knowledge that his father wasn’t always the nicest kind of guy, the ambition to push forward and become a leader, albeit reluctantly, and the battle against the Ultimate Foe, one who goes after children…well, the need to choose between the good and the ugly and the middling ground in between lay in at the door of this classic Genre series.

So, what to do with this deluge of information?

I take it as a lesson that my novel doesn’t have to fall into just one category or subject arena.  Sure, it’s nice to bust out with something original, but the tropes laid down in stories past are still going because they are beloved familiars.  I can twist and tweak them at will just like J.K. Rowling did and does.  The good guys can become bad, the bad good.  The rich can become richer, and the poor stay poor, or the poor can gain wealth to no good end.  The lonely find a host of company, or just the reverse, find delight in the art of being alone.  It’s all up to me, and to you, the writers.

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Back to writing


Well, no one is going to see this but the bots as they have taken over my referral box and comment box!  Alas, Askimet does not catch them and they have overridden the Kingdom at wordpress. So I’m going to leave off Blogging for awhile until they fix the referral spam problem.  I’m not writing the Blog here for the bots, I’m writing it for the exercise it gives the mind, and for contact with other Writers and Authors, to see what they are doing, and to share what I have found in researching the road from Writer to Author.  I’m writing less, and I find myself spending more time trying to find a way around the bots and worrying about my stats than writing, and since that is what the whole blog is for, but it has been corrupted, *sigh* I just don’t see any other option.

On a happier note, I’m going back to writing offline, of course, where I always compose.  I’m about half way through the manuscript, and the decision to put my energies to that instead of fighting the bots makes me feel better already.  Makes me wonder if the Blogging is really worth it?  Perhaps the best author sites are true feedback sites, where they critique each others work.  I think that after working on my manuscript for about a week, I’ll do some research in that arena.  I’ll see you later folks!  I hope the writing links provided in my blogs will help you on your way!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

>Two Important Links for Writers!


Traps

Image by Gabe Racz via Flickr

If an offer for your manuscript smells funny, say because you will have to buy copies of your own books, or the agent’s offer still seems too good to be true, though you will be handling the printing costs, the perfect publishing packaging of your dreams may be an Author’s trap.

So, how does an anxious Writer, eager to get published, avoid the pitfalls and bad guys that lurk around every corner of the publishing business?

The answer is do your homework!  Do some research on those editors, agents and publishing houses to whom you intend to submit your manuscript.

Here are two must see resources for Writers and Authors:

Writer Beware, go to their site here  is a direct affiliate of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site (SFWA) which has included members such as Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, and Anne McAffery. Writer Beware exists to aid Writers and Authors in avoiding literary scams and unscrupulous editors, agent and publishing traps.  They do not accept manuscripts, but offer advice on staying clear of fraud, and if you have been scammed, a place to begin the process of reporting it.   Their site is well respected and the advice is sound.

Preditors and Editors, go to site here ,was recommended to me by Nishi Serrano, Author.  The site has inside information about agent listings, editors and publishing houses, along with basic and advanced Writer and Author manuscript submission advice, query letter and synopsis guidance.

In Preditors and Editors Agents and Attorneys section there is an alphabetical list of possible sites for you to query with your manuscript.  There are some that are listed as NOT Recommended, and others that have a High Recommend, according to feedback from aspiring Authors and Published Authors.  Still other listings are marked as Highly Not Recommended for various reasons.

From what I hear the industry is trying to shut down Preditors and Editors, which says to me, go print it out just in case the information is gone one day!  But I hope that will not be the case.  Just out of curiosity, I checked a couple of NOT recommended agencies, and sometimes no address is posted, link won’t go to the posted addy, etc.  Take a look for yourself!

Preditors and Editors alongside Writer Beware and SFWA are a Writers and Authors goldmine of protection and writing advice.

Thanks so much Nishi, for the Link!!

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