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

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
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      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 2 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
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        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 3 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
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          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 4 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
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            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 5 of 10 , Nov 9, 2003
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              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 6 of 10 , Nov 10, 2003
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                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 7 of 10 , Nov 10, 2003
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                  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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