Skip to main content

View Diary: Write On! Well-done stakes. (145 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I think the threat of killing off (4+ / 0-)

    a loved character is more suspenseful than the actual killing.  Once that character is dead, the stakes are over...except in the ghost world of course.

    Proving one is ruthless enough to kill off a character is not a good enough reason for me.  I want an author who can keep the lady in danger, but not abandon her.  Just me.

    I said in a comment last night that a book I dearly love warned me the character would die all through the book and she did, but I was ready for it and it was an honest death.  I had to accept that.  It hurt mightily.

    Rambling...

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:05:07 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Well, you don't kill the character to (4+ / 0-)

      increase the stakes of that character, but of the book at large. Did any of the students dies in Harry Potter? If so, in what book did the first one go? (I mean current students, and good guys, not graduates.)

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:07:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  4th book? (4+ / 0-)

        Cedric?  That hurt.  It hurt Harry and Cho and the whole school.

        But she had so many characters...

        I don't have that many...yet. :)

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:27:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I bet from that point on, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SensibleShoes, cfk, Hill Jill, Deejay Lyn

          every reader read the books with a bit more tension and investment, knowing that nobody, not even sweet moonfaced Cedric, was truly safe.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:28:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but she'd killed a whole lot more by the end (5+ / 0-)
          including everone's favorites... including her own favorites. Lupin was my personal favorite, and, I was suprised to read, the author's own; I thought his killing was gratuitous.

          (I expected Tonks to die because everyone who was first introduced in "The Advance Guard" at the beginning of book 5 was obviously wearing a red shirt.)

          (Actually I expected Lupin to die because all Harry's father figures die. But it was still gratuitous.)

          But you can't get around this: without all those deaths, the books would have been less scary, less gripping, and less popular.

          -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

          by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:30:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gratuitous how? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SensibleShoes, cfk

            And please tell me he wasn't a werewolf.

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:36:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course he was a werewolf. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GussieFN, cfk
              But also a metaphor for Persons With AIDS. Which was rather well done.

              About 50 good guys die in the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of book 7. No need for Lupin to be one of them; most of them are not identified.

              Worse-- he's killed by a Death Eater who Harry fights with earlier in the battle, but merely stuns instead of killing because Harry's too nice to kill Death Eaters.

              -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

              by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:43:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I figured he was the opposite of a werewolf. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SensibleShoes, cfk

                Like Dumbledore being the smartest guy around, and, um. That's all I got.

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:45:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's an old word for "bumblebee", it turns out. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  GussieFN, cfk
                  Dumbledore. Tolkien used it in some poem. He was probably the only guy who knew it, besides Ms. R who presumably learned it therefrom.

                  -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                  by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:49:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ah. At some point I'm gonna need to read (4+ / 0-)

                    the Cliff Notes. I miss a crazy amount of references not having read the Potter books. People talk about how this is like Crudlumber and that one has a sort of Lupin thing going on, and I nod sagely.

                    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                    by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:51:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  ROTFLMHO (5+ / 0-)
                      You are very funny this evening.

                      You could read the actual books. Several people have found them quite enjoyable.

                      -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                      by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:03:51 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You even say H instead of A! (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        SensibleShoes, cfk, JamesRhetor

                        You're adorable.

                        I read the first three when the third one came out, to see what the fuss was all about, but I'm afraid it make no impact at all, and I don't remember a single scene, except the first one where someone is a cat, and there's an owl, and Harry's under the cupboard, and I resented Potter for poking fun at the fat kid.

                        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                        by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:13:23 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I am beginning to think you had a happier (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          GussieFN, SensibleShoes, JamesRhetor

                          childhood than I did.  :)

                          I identified with Harry and the idea that he could go to a special school where he could be himself and belong was appealing...though it didn't turn out well that way.

                          Hagrid as a friend was so cool.  I just loved Hagrid.

                          Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

                          by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:18:54 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I identified with the fat kid! (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SensibleShoes, cfk, JamesRhetor

                            And all the Muggles. I hate all special people, being such a normal myself.

                            And a buddy of mine said that there was some subplot about freeing gremlin slaves or something, but that just got dropped because, hey.

                            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                            by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:21:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, people wanted there to be. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GussieFN, cfk
                            A lot of the stuff in the books is analogies for stuff in the muggle world, so people wanted the house elves to be an analogy for something too, but they couldn't figure out what.

                            The house elves aren't really an analogy for anything.

                            -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                            by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:47:00 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh. I thought they were slaves and the (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SensibleShoes, cfk

                            girl wanted to free them but then decided--look over there, a unicorn! But as the man said, sometimes an elf is just an elf.

                            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                            by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:50:26 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, they are kind of slaves but (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cfk
                            they get very upset with her for trying to free them, and so people were all what does this mean but yeah, it was just an elf.

                            -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                            by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 08:08:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You are making me think (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GussieFN, SensibleShoes

                            You liked the fat kid and I liked Hermione a lot and there were a lot of things that...well, that made her seem odd just for the sake of making her seem odd.

                            That bothered me.  That she was considered a mudblood was scary because it made her a special target.  That she wanted to free the elves and was ridiculed even by the elves...

                            not sure how I feel about that even now.  

                            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

                            by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 08:09:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  The third one was a how-to-plot text. (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          GussieFN, cfk, JamesRhetor
                          The Shrieking Shack Scene (say that three times fast) ought to be studied by anyone who wants to write a billion-copy-bestseller.

                          Harry matures in re the fat kid. But it takes the first six books.

                          -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                          by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:20:30 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  And that's not gratuitous, then! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SensibleShoes, cfk

                It'd be gratuitous if it were just some random Death Eater. But if it's one that Harry spared, then it's v. meaningful, no?

                And if they're death eaters, why are they killing living people?

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:46:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah, except she didn't even say so in the book. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  GussieFN, cfk, Deejay Lyn
                  She said so in an event in NYC a couple months later, when some kid asked her who killed Lupin, and she just said the Death Eater's name, and my brother looked up and saw it was the one Harry had earlier stunned.

                  He was quite scathing on the subject in an article he wrote for a law review.

                  Death Eaters is just a cool name. The woman is the world's reigning champion of cool names.

                  -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                  by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:52:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh. Yikes. (4+ / 0-)

                    (And the idea that the author can say what happened, even if it's not on the page, baffles me.)

                    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                    by GussieFN on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:56:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I agree--bad form... (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      GussieFN, SensibleShoes, cfk, Deejay Lyn

                      I think it all needs to be on the page. If it's important, show or tell us... Like the fact that Dumbledore was apparently gay. (So JKR has said in post-publication interviews.)

                      If it's important to the story, include it. If it's not, then don't tell us after the books are done and published. What's the point?

                      ~j.

                      •  Well, it was for charity. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        cfk, JamesRhetor
                        I don't got a problem with this-- I wanted those answers too!

                        Stephen King organized this event at Radio City Music Hall, which featured himself, JKR, and John Irving.  For charity, but I suspect mainly because Mr. King wanted to meet Ms. Rowling, he being a huge Potterhead.

                        Book 7 had just come out and naturally people had lots of questions. I'm not sure if this was when the famous "Dumbledore is gay" declaration was made (something most adult readers had probably guessed) but there was a great deal of curiosity and lots of questions about details that weren't in the books-- and the answers not only went all over the blogosphere, but even all over the SCLM (kossish for "so-called liberal media").

                        We should all be so lucky.

                        Poor Mr. Irving probably ended up feeling like the kid who gets picked last for the team.

                        Also, she could hardly have made the books any longer.

                        -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                        by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:14:10 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Well, don't get me started on the length of HPs (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          GussieFN, SensibleShoes, cfk

                          I have strong opinions about that...

                          I guess I don't have an issue with these unknown elements being true--heck, in writing my characters' back stories, there's a ton of stuff that will never make the text of the story proper--but when it seems to be such a significant element (like the Death Eater having been challenged by Harry and not being dispatched only to kill Lupin later), it makes me a bit frustrated to have it not be in the narrative.

                          That seems like it means something. To not include it means it wasn't meaningful to the author, but to say it later makes it meaninful to the readers... but only those privy to the statements made on that occasion.

                          This was news to me, and I feel like it is indicative of sloppiness and lack of attention to detail. I don't mean to be judgmental, but I guess maybe I am. It's one of those things I am working hard to avoid in my own writing.... Time will tell if I will be successful in that, so I should probably be more gracious.

                          It just bugs.

                          ~j.

                          •  it worries me that some editor (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SensibleShoes, JamesRhetor

                            made her remove it...

                            There is another lady...one of the ones that I said I quit reading...who seems to have whole chunks missing as if someone said to her that the book was too long so cut this, and she cut too much and left us going, "huh?"

                            There is a problem with a long series, too, where the author is just tired of the whole thing and "phones it in."  

                            I got that feeling with HP #7.

                            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

                            by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:30:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good point... I hadn't thought of editorial (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SensibleShoes, cfk

                            pressures with respect to that. But the length of the later novels made me think that no editor was willing to tell JKR much of anything. How can you mess with that kind of success?

                            I agree with the comment earlier, though, about #7 being so different in tone that it was off-putting. Was that because JKR was tired and phoning it in? Maybe. Perhaps it was her attempt at building gravitas during the series... but it did seem like an uncomfortable shift.

                            ~j.

                          •  What I think happened (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cfk
                            was that the tendency to sentimentality is her own, and that the editors were reining it in in the earlier books. (And she was probably reining it in herself.) Her sense of humor is terrific, but you can sense the sentimentality in some of her speeches, public statements, and interviews.

                            I don't think editors ever stop trying to set you straight, but there certainly comes a point, for a few writers, when they no longer have to listen to their editors. And this is almost always a mistake.

                            -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                            by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:43:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree; it should have been in the books. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cfk, JamesRhetor
                            In fact it wasn't only those who were privy to the later info: they also had to have looked back at the book and seen that that was the DE Harry had stunned-- which means they had to have half-remembered it, as my brother did.

                            Of course, a thousand or so people read his law review article, so now they all know.

                            I think the last four books should have been edited heavily. Well, not book 5. I really enjoyed every minute of book 5.

                            Actually I enjoyed every minute of all of them. So I'm torn between my literary sense and my feelings as a Potterhead.

                            Bottom line is, she could get away with it because she is J.K. Rowling. You (to the best of my knowledge) and I are not.

                            -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                            by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:38:17 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, I'm a nobody... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            SensibleShoes, cfk

                            I only share two initials with the HP Queen. Beyond that, all similarities end.

                            At least you have published!

                            And that's my sense, too--she got away with it because of who she is and her past success. Should I ever gain such popularity (ha!), I hope that I have good friends and editors who can keep me grounded and help me pare down my prose and avoid diarrhea of the pen....

                            ...for just because you can doesn't mean you should!

                            ~j.

                          •  Still, what always gets lost in these discussions (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cfk
                            is that the lady is one hell of a writer.

                            -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

                            by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 08:07:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

          •  She taught me a lesson (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GussieFN, SensibleShoes, JamesRhetor

            That I can quit a series and I should have quit hers before the last book.

            Since then, I have happily quit two very famous and important series that I had been reading for years...one since 1991 and one since 1990.

            I proclaimed myself satisfied and said enough!  

            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

            by cfk on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:43:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What, with Voldy still running wild? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cfk, JamesRhetor
              I thought there were three major problems with book 7, only two of which were her fault.

              One was pacing. They spent too long camping, etc.

              The second was sentimentality. The tone in the first six books was sarcastic and funny; in book 7 it was sentimental and that didn't suit the characters or the world.

              The third, which wasn't her fault, was simply that when you've got one-fourth of the world's literate population discussing and trying to figure out what it is you're going to do next, then even if you follow the Rule of 20-- they're still going to guess right.

              -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

              by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:47:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I think it's refreshing when an author is willing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GussieFN, SensibleShoes, cfk

            to sacrifice his/her darlings to advance the story and the theme.

            I'm not sure that I thought Lupin's death was gratuitous, but I did expect it, and because I cared about Harry, I was gripped by that loss for him.

            I recall seeing an early episode of a Joss Whedon TV series where there were only a few wonderful characters that we were already growing attached to, and one of them heroically sacrifices himself. It was gripping.

            Not only did it grab my attention (and surprise me, because TV doesn't typically do that!), but it made me sit up and take notice that the perils in this universe were real and dire.

            Smart way to up the ante, methinks.

            ~j.

            •  Yes. Of course in the Whedonverse (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cfk
              death tends to be merely a temporary inconvenience.

              Once Sirius died, Lupin was pretty much the sole survivor of Harry's parents' generation (if you don't count Wormtail). So there was that too, to indicate he was toast. I liked him as an educator: of all the teachers at Hogwarts, he was the only one following sound educational practices.

              The closest runner up in this field was Snape. But, as one of my colleagues in the education dept said, Snape didn't provide a low-stress classroom environment.

              (And this is how you can tell the lady's a great writer. There's still so much to discuss. My brother writes articles about the legal aspects of the wizarding world. There are books about law in the wizarding world. Scholarly books, natch.)

              -9.0, -8.3 "...the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year" --AP, 6/9/2010

              by SensibleShoes on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 08:24:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site