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Re: [mythsoc] Of Sitcom Plots and Pocket Framistans: The Trouble with Rowling's Plotting

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  • juliet@firinn.org
    ... I perhaps shouldn t butt into this conversation, but it bothers me when people think that books intended for children need not adhere to the same standards
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
      On Sun, Nov 09, 2003 at 01:14:09AM -0800, darancgrissom@... wrote:
      > You are aware these books are intended for children...right?
      >
      I perhaps shouldn't butt into this conversation, but it bothers me when
      people think that books intended for children need not adhere to the same
      standards of quality as those intended for adults. I agree that young
      children like more repetition than adults do in general (my one- and three-
      year-old children are evidence of that), but if we as adults provide them
      with good quality literature from a young age, they will, like Wendell,
      be bothered by the shortcomings of literature containing glaring oversights.
      If they're not bothered, we can blame ourselves as adults for not exposing
      them to enough higher quality literature.

      That's my $.02 as a parent.

      Julie
    • David S. Bratman
      ... happened ... I agree that this can be rather annoying, and that it works only in an outright farce like Comedy of Errors - and even then for only a
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
        At 07:23 PM 11/8/2003 , WendellWag@... wrote:

        >Something will happen to Harry and some adult will blame him for what
        happened
        >without making the least attempt to find out what really happened. Nothing
        >Harry says will change this person's opinion of him (even though Harry had
        >shown
        >himself to be trustworthy in all previous situations). This is why it seemed
        >to me that all the adults in the books were idiots.

        I agree that this can be rather annoying, and that it works only in an
        outright farce like "Comedy of Errors" - and even then for only a limited
        period of time.

        But it's not unrealistic. I am very VERY used to people disbelieving or
        ignoring everything I say, and portraying themselves as idiots as,
        frequently eschewing actual arguments, they insult and abuse me in absurd
        terms very similar to those that Prof. Umbridge uses on Harry in "Order of
        the Phoenix." I wonder how she gets away with it, and I wonder how they
        get away with it too.


        >There doesn't even seem to be any coherence to the sorts of magic
        >that exist there. In each novel she's introducing new aspects of the wizard
        >world that ought properly have been introduced much earlier, but she seems
        >to be
        >saying to her readers, "Oh, I've got to tell you about this completely new
        >aspect of the magical world, which I need to make the present novel possible."

        Here also I agree. The example that bothered me most was ... now I've
        forgotten exactly what it was. (Another problem with these books: I don't
        find them very memorable.) But it was the teleportation system, or magical
        flying bus, or something, that showed up in book ... two? three? At any
        rate, it could get you to Hogwarts with no fuss nor muss, and completely
        obviated the need for the famous school train.


        >In many ways Rowling is a good writer, which makes it all the more irritating
        >that she never learned basic lessons in writing which would have prevented
        >her from relying on such absurd plot cliches.

        Yes, she is good at what she does, but could be much better without losing
        her good qualities. Sort of like Peter Jackson.


        >I wish that when she had
        >submitted the first novel to the publisher, some editor had told her, "O.K.,
        >we're
        >going to accept this book, but you've got to write the rest of the series
        >before we publish it.

        Ah, now that might indeed have made a difference. The Lord of the Rings
        drafts suggest very strongly that if Tolkien had written and published it
        one volume at a time, he would have dug himself into some very deep holes
        indeed. Even as it is, the stylistic and subcreational clashes between
        LOTR and "The Hobbit" have often been noted, and that even after Tolkien
        substantially rewrote portions of "The Hobbit" to make it fit better.

        On the other hand - Ransom is hardly the same character throughout the
        three books of Lewis's trilogy, and not just because of the experiences
        he's undergone, monumentally life-changing as those were. But I can't
        imagine that OSP would be improved had Lewis re-written the character in
        the mold of how he appears in THS.


        >And we'll keep the later novels to a reasonable size."

        I, however, consider books 4-5 to be superior to books 2-3 because they
        have room to breathe. I prefer my school stories to be about school and
        not just about the plot. But this seems to be a minority taste: I
        considered that feature to be the prime virtue of Pamela Dean's "Tam Lin"
        while others considered it the book's principal flaw. Rowling's amazingly
        zippy writing style keeps them from bogging down, though the
        repetitiousness is beginning to get to me.

        - David Bratman
      • Berni Phillips
        From: ... Butting in further, I don t think darancegrissom was implying that children s books have lower standards of quality but that the
        Message 3 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
          From: <juliet@...>

          > On Sun, Nov 09, 2003 at 01:14:09AM -0800, darancgrissom@...
          wrote:
          > > You are aware these books are intended for children...right?
          > >
          > I perhaps shouldn't butt into this conversation, but it bothers me when
          > people think that books intended for children need not adhere to the same
          > standards of quality as those intended for adults.

          Butting in further, I don't think darancegrissom was implying that
          children's books have lower standards of quality but that the point of view
          is that of the kid's. A child may feel he is not being listened to when an
          adult feels he has listened to the child -- it's all in the point of view.

          In the Peanuts comic strip, Schultz chose not to have adults in it because
          it was all from the kids' point of view. In Calvin and Hobbes, you have
          both, and some of the best humor was showing the same scene from Calvin's
          point of view and also from his dad's, getting two radically different
          interpretations.

          In Potterworld, we have adults and kids (although they are rapidly
          transitioning into young adults) but the point of view is always Harry's and
          his friends'. Right through book 5, we have a very puzzling portrayal of
          Dumbledore who is acting totally different from how he was in earlier books.
          He's cold and unresponsive and doesn't seem to care about Harry. This is
          all from Harry's point of view. It's not until the end of the book that we
          find out why Dumbledore has behaved like this.

          Berni
        • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
          Well, okay. Some of these complaints are pretty legit, but as has been pointed out, it s actually a familiar experience to be in the right and have nobody
          Message 4 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
            Well, okay. Some of these complaints are pretty legit, but as has been
            pointed out, it's actually a familiar experience to be in the right and
            have nobody believe you. And as a kid, or, worse, an adolescent, life is
            very much like that. I haven't picked up book #5 yet, but I'm only human,
            and I'm awfully adolescent, so the POV of the beleaguered adolescent would
            seem to make sense, at least sometimes.

            I do agree with wanting to keep juvenile fiction to some kind of standards.
            Just sorting through the stuff offered by the primary school libraries, and
            the Scholastic take-home papers, can be enough to make one pretty upset.

            And pick as we want, Ms Rowling is a successful gal. Remind me if I ever
            get published to turn off my list mail.

            Lizzie Triano
            lizziewriter@...
            amor vincit omnia
          • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
            Right through book 5, we have a very puzzling portrayal of Dumbledore who is acting totally different from how he was in earlier books. He s cold and
            Message 5 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
              Right through book 5, we have a very puzzling portrayal of
              Dumbledore who is acting totally different from how he was in earlier books.
              He's cold and unresponsive and doesn't seem to care about Harry. This is
              all from Harry's point of view. It's not until the end of the book that we
              find out why Dumbledore has behaved like this. >>

              PLEASE tell me that we find out the scoop about Snape. I will read that
              book sooner rather than later if I have some sort of carrot reward to look
              forward to.

              Lizzie Triano
              lizziewriter@...
              amor vincit omnia
            • Carl F. Hostetter
              ... Yeah, the Internet is quite frustrating that way, ennit? ;)
              Message 6 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
                On Nov 9, 2003, at 11:31 AM, David S. Bratman wrote:

                > But it's not unrealistic. I am very VERY used to people disbelieving
                > or
                > ignoring everything I say, and portraying themselves as idiots as,
                > frequently eschewing actual arguments, they insult and abuse me in
                > absurd
                > terms

                Yeah, the Internet is quite frustrating that way, ennit? ;)
              • alexeik@aol.com
                In a message dated 11/9/3 3:30:40 AM, Wendell Wagner wrote:
                Message 7 of 10 , Nov 10, 2003
                  In a message dated 11/9/3 3:30:40 AM, Wendell Wagner wrote:

                  <<There
                  doesn't seem to be any bounds to the magic that can be performed in Rowling's
                  universe. >>

                  You may change your mind about this particular point once you actually finish
                  the book. One of the main things Harry learns in this volume is that there
                  *are* rigorous bounds to what magic can do.
                  Alexei
                • Berni Phillips
                  From: Elizabeth Apgar Triano ... Well, in a way. Harry sees Snape as a student and gets an understanding of why Snape is so
                  Message 8 of 10 , Nov 10, 2003
                    From: "Elizabeth Apgar Triano" <lizziewriter@...>
                    >
                    > PLEASE tell me that we find out the scoop about Snape. I will read that
                    > book sooner rather than later if I have some sort of carrot reward to look
                    > forward to.


                    Well, in a way. Harry sees Snape as a student and gets an understanding of
                    why Snape is so distrustful of him.

                    Berni
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