Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Toast to Writers...

JK Rowling is responsible for me having a very distracted husband and an equally distracted daughter for most of this year. Lots of disturbed nights and yawning children before school. DH waited until near the publication date of the last book before he started reading the series because a) he isn't very patient, and b) our daughter was only seven this year.

DH and DD were/are totally absorbed in the story (I feel slightly ashamed to say I haven't read them, but I love the movies).

I admire Joanne Rowling immensely for many reasons. First she was a single mom when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Secondly she supports some of my favorite charities and thirdly, she has dealt pretty well with the publicity considering the unprecedented amount of fame and fortune the Harry Potter books gave her.

Could any author really have expected just how huge those books were going to be? I don't think so. I think Dan Brown is still in hiding after his success--DH also loves his books and there must be huge pressure on the guy regarding his next story. I think JKR had the advantage in that regard because she'd very carefully planned the seven book series.

So what makes JKR and Dan Brown such huge success stories? What pinch of magic did they put in their writing? Some people say none at all, it was just marketing and good luck. Well I'm sure that plays a part, but they both tell excellent yarns. Is it following the hero's journey? The classic storytelling structure of old? Maybe. We humans definitely seem to identify with it. One thing that always makes my forehead knot in confusion though, is that both these authors have such rich detail that sometimes slows the pace. I'm told, again and again, that this is an absolute no no. So again I ponder the mystery.

I'd like to propose a toast to the success of writers, famous and unknown, okay we can't all expect the fantasy careers of JKR, Dan Brown, Suzanne Brockmann or Nora Roberts, but we can all aim high, and we can all wish upon our own magical stars.


  1. I'm not very happy with the words "Harry Potter" right now (read the blog), but I join you in the toast.

  2. Here! Here! I join in the toast as well!

  3. Definitely a toast to writers! What would we readers ever do without them? (Well, miss out on new shows, that's for sure)

    I agree about the impact of Harry Potter and Dan Brown and Nora & Suz. I've read books by all 4, and they each have a way of telling a story that draws the reader in, and by creating characters we can identify with on some subconscious level. I know Brown gets criticism for clunky writing, but you know what? It worked for me. I've loved his books, so there.

  4. I'll be happy just to finish something. I think there is a lot to say for having the resolve to get through an entire work.

    I think what has slowed me up is early criticism I got from a writing group, the classic show-vs-tell. I told a bit of back story and got flayed for it. Reading some published authors, I see them doing the same damn thing as I was trying to do.

    I think I just need to get it done my way. Look at the rules these famous people have broken. They probably would have been roasted by their peers and could possibly have been discouraged.

  5. Bails--not Harry's fault :)
    Cheers Brandy and Stacy :)
    Scott, criticism is hard. You have to know how to ignore anything that doesn't work for your story, but also be able to see if some advice would make your story better. Never easy. Finishing the story is hard, but you can do it :)

  6. Laurie11:35 pm

    Can I join in this toast? While I'm not a Harry Potter fan, or even a Dan Brown fan, I think that adding rich detail and description is an art that needs to be brought back to writing. So, those two authors should be toasted. I see too much "spare" writing, that when you analyze it, could've been written by someone in grade nine who had a spark of imagination. So, here's to backstory, breaking rules, and putting in rich description and enough detail that you can be drawn into the story.

    And Scott, I've missed having crit partners and am on my own now. However, they can be just as bad for you as *good* for you. If your story feels good when you break a rule, then for heaven's sake - break it! Through in that backstory to give the story some texture. Often, writing groups just say something to you for the sake of saying something and trying to sound like they know what they're talking about.

    Maybe I should read Dan Brown's first book and start from there!