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
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.