Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Keeping a reader reading

I've mentioned here before that I'm reading the first Harry Potter book in Welsh at the moment. It's quite an interesting experience in several ways. It has to be getting on for 50 years since I read anything so slowly. I was not a precocious reader, unlike many in fandom who are only too quick to boast about reading War and Peace at the age of 3. Well, I exaggerate, but not by much. :) I, on the other hand, clearly remember struggling with Janet and John and the joy of finally transferring up to the more complex Dick and Dora. Memories of further progress is fuzzy, but at some point I mastered the art of reading without moving my lips and tracing every word with a finger. Yet in Welsh I'm right back at that stage!

Despite this, Harri Potter is holding my attention. Yes, even despite the fact that I have to look up a word in the dictionary every sentence or two, I am enjoying the story.

I know that many people are rude about Rowling's writing, but she tells an interesting story and it's still interesting, even at the speed I'm currently reading.

This is no mean feat.

I can see how she became so popular with the habitual non-readers.

For instance I'm just past the point where Hagrid has told Harry about his parents being wizards and how they were killed by Voldemort. Harry wakes up next morning, convinced that it's all a dream. The writing isn't fancy, the descriptions are sparse but adequate (it just says that the cottage is full of sunlight, there's no loving description of the quality of the light or the texture of the coat Harry's sleeping under), but the pull of the larger story keeps the reader wanting to read on (will he get to Hogwarts despite his uncle's opposition?) and there are amusing details -- like the owl bringing the newspaper and requiring payment -- that make it fresh and different.

I think that combination of overall story pull plus neat thing on every page is something I need to bear in mind with regard to my own story telling...
Tags: writing, writing reflection
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