A couple years ago for Christmas I gave the kids the Harry Potter series of books. When they orignially came out, they weren't interested but that changed. Recently though, my son has started rereading the series.
Which makes me ask... just what is it about HP and the series that is so fascinating? Not only to kids, but adults too.
Is it the characters? I mean, each character is fully fleshed out and practically real. They each have problems, hopes, dreams and things that make them special. They are, dare I say it, people we can relate to in our lives too.
Or is it the plotlines? There's been other stories about magic and wizards. So what makes this one so special?
The setting maybe? I have to admit, Hogwarts is really a cool place. I'd love to go there...not sure if I'd want to stay but definitely visit. When you think about it, Hogwarts is practically a character.
I forget how many agents turned down the first HP book before someone took a chance on it but she kept on until she found that one person.
I don't guess I have any answers for what makes HP such a hit but there are things we can take and apply to our own writing.
First...our characters have to be real. Not only to us, but to our readers. We have to give our reader ways to relate and connect to them. Cause...if the reader doesn't care what happens to our characters, they won't continue reading.
Second...it's not the plot or the idea that's terribly important, it's what we do with it.
Third...our setting should be real to our readers too. If we build a world, it needs to be fully formed and we should know them better than we know our own neighborhood. If we are using a place that already exists....then we need to make sure we get those details right. If we don't, there will be someone who notices. And when they do...they'll stop reading.
Lastly...never give up. Getting our work published isn't easy. But...the process is one we're going to have to deal with if we ever see our writing published.
Actually...I think I know the secret of the Harry Potter series.
It's called "suspension of disbelief." Even though we know there's no such person as Harry and no place like Hogwarts...for just a little while, we can go back to a time when we believed in magic and Harry and Hogwarts do exist.
So...I'm off to ponder what it's going to take to create a little of my own suspension of disbelief.