Why Harry Potter is So Good

J K Rowling is a master of the art.

Not really a revelation, I know. But having read one of her books for the first time recently, it blew my mind how devastatingly good her story-telling is.

But what makes it so good?

As a writer, I’m supposed to be able to read analytically. But, damned if I don’t always just get caught up in the story.

So, with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone still fresh in my mind, I’ll try to do so retrospectively.

J K Rowling’s writing is accessible.

I reckon part of the reason the Harry Potter series appeals to so many ages is that they are eminently readable.

The author doesn’t dress her prose up; she doesn’t wax lyrical for the love of her own words; she doesn’t alienate her readers with flourishes of wordsmithery.

She writes simply and directly.

Sure, she’s no Annie Proulx or Graham Greene.

But, to write an engaging and immersive story, she doesn’t need to be.

The author knows her world intimately.

An axiom of the art of writing is to show, not tell.

J K Rowling does this in spades.

She is the queen of providing enough small detail–for an object, a person, a place or an emotion–to allow the reader to imagine the rest.

This is the core of the covenant created between writer and reader.

In giving the reader mere hints of the world of Harry Potter, the author has brought the world so much more vividly to life.

The flow of the story is paramount.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, detracts from the flow of the story.

In a 2007 documentary about J K Rowling, she spoke about removing tracts of backstory and details about characters’ lives from the last of the Harry Potter books.

Her reasons? They hindered the story.

This is the skill of a master storyteller.

When the reader is led too far astray from the story, they disengage from it. And once that starts, the slope only gets steeper.

I can’t imagine there are too many people left in the world, particularly if you are reading this blog, that have not read the Harry Potter series of books.

But if, on the off chance, you are as out of touch as me, dive in. If you appreciate a good story, Harry Potter will not disappoint. Trust me.

All images from pixabay

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