Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Story Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

*yawn*...right?  I mean, who the heck ISN'T talking about the latest installment in the series.  So I gotta come up with a new angle.  It's a great movie, great book series, yadda yadda yadda.  There's not a whole lot else to say.

So I'll focus on...location.

Story Setting.

In the Harry Potter series, of which I am a great fan, J.K. Rowling has probably created one of the most intricate and comprehensive worlds since the Star Wars saga.  Star Trek, Middle Earth, these are stories that fit into a world so detailed and well-thought out that if the writers were going to a shrink, they'd be the most complex delusional cases ever.

The writers could describe every aspect of those worlds.  Down to the names of the little creatures that crawl into one's ears like the ones on Seti-Alpha-Six (see Wrath of Khan.  And then tell me what those things are called - I don't feel like looking it up).

J.K. has done the same.  She didn't just make up a world, she transported herself into it.  She probably had dreams of the Hogwarts world, and could, from memory, tell you how many left turns you had to make to get from Professor Snape's class back to Gryffindor.

And that's PRECISELY why the series was such a huge hit.  Not the only reason, for sure, but a big part of it.  Because, as I learned after watching this movie, it all fits.  And readers or audiences HATE it when a story doesn't fit.  When the rules of the world they're investing themselves into are violated.

It's the most critical point of fantasy / science-fiction writing.  If you violate one rule you'll lose the reader.  They'll know.  They're not stupid.

In my book, which deals with time travel, Caitlin and I have worked hard to make sure the rules of time travel are not only known and understood, but are consistent throughout.  How often can they travel back in time?  Why doesn't one trip totally disrupt the time/space continuum?  Why does one watch take them wherever they want to go but the other doesn't?  These are questions that a good agent will ask, because he or she will be reading your book as a regular reader would.  Even if they've read it before, they will look at it each time with new perspective and perhaps even ask new questions.  And your answers better be consistent with your world.

You can't fake fantasy.  One slip and the reader will know you're dodging.  One sudden appearance of something that couldn't possibly have been there before and they'll feel cheated - like you're making it up as you go.

CAUTION:  Not all of these details have to be spelled out immediately or even explained.  YOU have to know them.  You can reveal them as you wish, but don't bog your reader down with the details.  Just have them ready.

That way, when your reader enters your world, as we have all entered the world of Harry Potter, even if it's never been seen before, it will all make sense...

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