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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Wednesday, 20 July 2005
The Middle Aged Woman Who Read A Book

I have finished Harry Potter And the Half Blood Prince. I now know who dies and who the Half-Blood Prince is and who snogs who. It takes a lot of time to get through a 652 page book, so I skipped yesterday’s entry. Hope you all don’t mind.

Anyway, I feel as if I’ve eaten an entire box of Chocolate Frogs. An immensely enjoyable experience to be sure, but you feel a bit bloated when you’re done and more than a bit sad that the candy’s all gone now. It’s even worse knowing that there’s only one more book left in the series. After that one, there will be no more Harry Potter books. That truly is a sad prospect.

J.K. Rowling is an amazingly gifted story teller. She has what Stephen King calls “the gotta.” As in you just gotta keep reading to find out what happens next. When describing “the gotta” in the book Misery, King even goes so far as to compare it to a particular sexual technique practiced by cheap hookers. It’s that guilty pleasure of staying up late with a book that you can’t put down.

I’d say Rowling has more of the gotta than any writer in history, but her writing style is not the greatest. Since I’ve read the books so many times, I find her overuse of the word “muttered” instead of the word “said” irritating. And she has an annoying habit of describing how every character says each sentence– Hagrid said gruffly. Harry said loudly. Ron said brusquely. Hermione said uncertainly. Dumbledore said calmly (Those were all found at random in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, by the way.)

There’s a cardinal rule among writing groups–if you find an adverb, kill it. The idea is that the reader should be able to tell how the character said the sentence by the words themselves. “I know what you’ve been up to, Malfoy, you sleazy dark wizard!” he said. See? You already know he said it menacingly or icily, or forcefully or whatever.

Now of course, you’re all reminding me that Rowling has sold something like 200 million books. And you’re right. With that kind of success, she can use all the adverbs she wants. You can bet that hundreds of millions of people, including me, will still read the next book, adverbs and all.

Posted by judy5cents at 11:39 AM EDT
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