I’m on Book 5, The Order Of The Phoenix, and I can’t put it down.
Before I know what’s going on, my fingers turn the page and I’m reading at warp speed to know what happens next? Then I’ll pause in the middle somewhere and trace the current situation to something that happened in a previous book. Yes, I’ve been reading the books in chronological order and simply love how each book builds on the ones before!
But that’s true for all series – you say, right? Which is why it’s coined a ‘series’.
With Harry Potter it’s different. Everything is different. From the Muggles who live on Privet Drive, to the charms, wands and spells that create magic at Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, Harry Potter is an incredible creation of wonder that will surpass the test of time because it’s not always all fantasy, paranormal and magic. The series highlights the nuances and intricacies of life. Real life. As we know it today.
Take for example, the scene my bookmark is wedged in (about half-way through book 5). Hermione (one of Harry’s close friends) decides Harry should privately teach Defense Against The Dark Arts classes to “a couple of” students who want to learn how to defend themselves from Voldemort, the villain, on the rise. Harry is quite surprised at the idea, shocked at the army of student who march in the bar and quickly says he doesn’t know how he performed a Corporeal Patronus Charm (to save him and Dudley from the Dementors (beginning of book 5), how he slayed a Basilisk (Book 2), or how he saved the Sorceror’s Stone (Book 1). As the students barrage him with questions, demanding to know how he flew around a fiery dragon on a broom and got the golden egg (Book 3, Triwizard Cup) and more, Harry can’t take the pressure and says,
“I… I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be modest or anything, but… I had a lot of help with all that stuff…”
I closed the book, turned to the work-in-progress manuscript on my laptop and grinned. Isn’t that what we writers say when asked how we wrote the book?
I’ve had wonderful mentors like USA Today Bestseller Jade Lee, New York Times Bestseller, Haywood Smith, and published authors from my local Georgia Romance Writers group critique my work. I attended writing conferences, local writer chapter meetings, listened to the wisdom from successful authors, who have proof of a series, backlist or stellar writing awards to populate their website, jacket cover and social media banners. I’ve tried to learn and hone in on what they did, did right, did different, to become who and what they are.
But the answer is pretty much the same.
Successful authors wrote the best book they could and didn’t give up. Some had support from a writing community, mentor, or a figure in the publishing industry. Others had a strong following to back their release. In any case, like Harry Potter, they just did the best they could with what they had and gave it their all. AND THE PATRONUS WORKED!
Writing is hard. Very hard. It’s never been easy. I don’t think it ever will be. We might have more tools to speed up the process (from the manual typewriter to Scrivener) but the act of putting words down, stringing together clear, coherent sentences and doing so over the next hundred or so pages will always be unique and personal to the creator. You can get all the help you want and rightly so, but in the end, like Harry, you have to twirl that wand, perform the Patronus Charm and wait for that silver unicorn to appear. And if it doesn’t (Book 3), try again and again.
The end result may not be a silver unicorn at first. It may be a shadow of what you are aiming to achieve. But I guarantee you will end up with a personal and emotional experience that will reel readers back to you, the author, book after book after book.
So, what did you like best about Harry Potter and why?